“We were young, rich, and beautiful, and the tide – we thought – was turning in our favour. We were going to change everything, of course, but mostly we were going to change the rules.” – Marianne Faithfull
Fashion can be used as a statement and in the 1960s and 70s the generation of the so-called Beautiful People – the radical designers, artists, aristocrats, and musicians – expressed their individuality and political views through different textiles, fabrics, colours, and cuts.
The lifestyle of the hippie culture consisted of high-waisted bootleg trousers; colourful patterns on dresses and shirts; big round sunglasses covering people’s faces and music festivals with crowds celebrating artists from the Beatles to Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones.
Iconic London boutiques such as Hung On You, Granny Takes A Trip and Apple Tailoring inspired a young generation to get creative and incorporate the socio-political climate of the time, which more than anything, was about changing the rules. Hence, the designs are worn by artists and rock stars expressing their gender and sexuality. This laid a whole new ground for fashion, and many ordinary people incorporated the flashy, over-the-top looks into their wardrobes too.
To get an in-depth understanding of London’s 1960s counterculture, I would highly recommend visiting the Beautiful People exhibition at the Fashion & Textile Museum in London, running until March 2022. With over one hundred original ensembles as well as video snippets, magazine excerpts, and photographs, the exhibition explores one of the most dramatic periods of British design history and serves as a testimony of the fashion of the free-spirited and rebels who dared to oppose the established societal rules and norms.
Beautiful People: The Boutique in 1960s Counterculture
1 October 2021 – 13 March 2022
Photograph was taken for The Observer, December 1967. Copyright Patrick Ward
Reviewed by Giulia Ciccolella – Giulia is interning with Abundant Art during the month of October and supports the organisation writing reviews and helping with marketing and PR. Giulia is German-Italian and graduated with a BA in Media & Communications with first-class honours from Goldsmiths, University of London, and has been living in the UK for over three years. She is excited to explore London’s art scene further and to learn more about the work of Abundant Art.