The 60s and 70s were by far the most eventful and turbulent period in the 20th Century. Youth, politics, economy, technology, music, fashion were all factors of the changes that brought subcultures, movements, rebellions and lifestyle to another level.
The V&A’s incredibly innovative and beautiful exhibition illustrates four years in this period that saw the most creative and revolutionary art, youth organisations and gatherings such as music festivals, fashion but also social movements influenced by feminist movements, human rights/anti-racism, sexual freedom, anti-war. Too add, when looking at visuals that portray this period there is a clear influence from LSD, aka ‘acid’ the psychedelic drug that triggers distorted view of objects and reality and sometimes hearing and seeing things that aren’t there – hallucinating.
The exhibition beautifully presents all these notions by giving the visitor an almost personal tour, as each viewer has headsets with 60s music that changes as we are walking through the space.
The most impressive fact about this exhibition is the fact that it is focused on a four years time period only, but its content is impressively heavy and diversified.
While the cultural scene keeps expending with The Beatles first show in 1964, Jimmy Hendrix’s first album release in 67, magazine publication such as Time Magazine and The Observer devoted their issues to the underground scenes in London and elsewhere. TimeOut London’s first issued as a one sheet pamphlet in 1968.
Fashion photography changed as well with the most known photographers like:
ABOUT FASHION IN ENGLAND
In the 1960s – 60% of clothes on the market were bought by teenagers between 15-19 years old. This occurs as youth is tired of having to wear the same clothes as their mothers and want a more youthful and individual look. This individualism was highly influenced by the fact that ‘music becomes the most vital form of communication and identification for young people, replacing Hollywood films.’ (You Say You Want a Revolution? V&A, 2016)
‘In Regent Street and Leicester Square everywhere the Carnabetian army marches on, each one a dedicated follower of fashion.’ (The Kinks, 1994)
The reference of Carnaby Street in ‘The followers of fashion’ song of The Kinks, brings back the famous Carnaby Street to Swinging London in 1966. At that period, London became the epicentre of style, as mentioned earlier ‘style’ is no longer just for the wealthy. Music and fashion is very closely connected – London’s pop scene influences people dressed.
While the ‘Queen of Mod’ becomes the iconic face of 1966. Her image is directly linked to Carnaby Street and Kings Road, London which become the street of self-expression in fashion. Affordable designs, colourful, young, with influences of the ‘Space Age’ with different materials such as PVC or Perspex, Hippie-inspired patterns. The boutiques become clubs where people can shop, listen to music and dance until late at night.
ABOUT FASHION AROND THE GLOBE
Some other major references to the 1960s-70s
Blow-Up, 1966 (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060176/)
Woodstock, 1970 (Rockumentary/music)
The Doors of Perception, Aldous Huxley
On the Road, Jack Kerouac
One flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey
‘This Land is Made for You and Me’, by Woody Guthrie