This was just a book I spied in the new non-fiction section of my public library. There was one for the 1950s and one for the 1970s as well. But I’ve often admired the ‘mod’ style of the 1960s, even if I’m not much of a vintage shopper or fashionista myself. And this seemed like a fun, light book to flip through before bed.
The fifty “looks” described in this book include singers, models, actresses, movies, fashion photographers, designers, stylists, magazines, and boutiques. Fifty Fashion Looks is not a coffee-table size book, but about the size of a regular book. The layout of the book is very simple: description on the left, photograph on the right.
In this way, the book gives the reader a quick cram course in the who’s who of 1960’s fashion. It’s a starting place for a novice fashion hobbyist / student. According to the book, London took center stage in the fashion world during this decade, but this also was the decade that Milan fashion house Missoni got traction and Finnish company Marimekko rose in prominence.
Some people mentioned in the book I knew already, such as Jackie Kennedy, Dusty Springfield, Janis Joplin, Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra, and Twiggy. (When I was little, my parents named our pet ferret Twiggy.) I’d heard of the movies Blow-Up, La Dolce Vita and Bonnie & Clyde.
But there were plenty of people who I didn’t know at all, or only had a vague familiarity with, such as non-Twiggy models Jean Shrimpton (‘The Shrimp’), Veruschka, and Penelope Tree.
An interesting excerpt about Penelope Tree:
London might have had ‘The Twig’, but New York had ‘The Tree’. ‘She’s perfect. Don’t touch her,’ said [photographer] Avedon to an editor who suggested tweaking her look. Tree relished the possibilities a fashion career offered escaping her conventional background. ‘People thought I was a freak. I kind of liked that.’ When John Lennon was asked to describe her in three words, he is said to have replied: ‘Hot, hot, hot, smart, smart, smart!’
Her relationship with [photographer] Bailey and her fashion career ended abruptly when late-onset acne left her with scarring. She has recently told Louise France in the Guardian: ‘I went from being sought-after to being shunned, because nobody could bear to talk about the way I looked.’
I thought the fact that her career ended due to acne was interesting – I’ve wondered if that kind of thing happened.
The book also made me curious about fashion photographers David Bailey and Richard Avedon. As the book’s layout only allowed for one photo per ‘look’, the photos for Bailey and Avedon were photos of them, not photos by them. Their style was described, but I wanted to see for myself, and found these great photos online.
Of David Bailey, Reed writes: “His images had an engaging and uncompromising toughness: black and white, minimalist and very graphic” (p. 32).
The image I found of the Michael Caine photo is not great quality, but it just oozes such cool. And the Shrimpton one is just so lovely.
Of Richard Avedon’s photography style, Paula Reed writes: “He was the 60s frenetic energy in human form. As his friend and fellow fashion photographer Lillian Bassman once said, ‘Did you ever meet Dick? He was always jumping around.'”
Anyway, I had fun looking through this book and it was a great launch-pad for exploring more of the styles and fashions online. When I went back to the public library this weekend, I saw that the other two in the series were no longer there, but I think I may check them out someday.