The generation born immediately following World War II was coming of age in the sixties; the world saw the explosion of youth culture and art, music, and fashion saw a remarkable change in style and message. Haute couture was still being produced, yet it was dwindling in its influence. Young fashion designers, making cheaper, trendier ready-to-wear dominated the market and brought fun and vitality to dressing. Over the course of the decade many bew styles emerged from the sophisticated polish of the Mods to the exotic ecclecticism of Hippies. Here are three women who made the most of dressing in the Swinging Sixties.
1. Anita Pallenberg
Anita Pallenberg was a model and actress, but is perhaps best known for being romantically involved with both Brian Jones and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. She influenced the style of the band throughout the sixties, and is the inspiration for such songs as 'Angie.' I think Marianne Faithfull best describes Pallenberg in her 1994 autobiography Faithfull:
" She was the most incredible woman I'd ever met in my life. Dazzling, beautiful, hypnotic and unsettling....Other women evaporated next to her. She spoke in a baffling dada hipsterese. An outlandish Italo-Germanic-Cockney slang that mangled her syntax into surreal fragments. After a couple of sentances you became hopelessly lost....It was all part of her sinister appeal."
Born Vera Grafin von Lehndorff-Steinort, the aristorcratic model Verushka led a difficult childhood during World War II in East Prussia. Her parents were part of the German Resistance, and she spent time in labor camps as a child due to her parents rejection of Nazism. By the early 1960s, Verushka was working as a model in Paris and New York; her exotic looks and Amazon figure made her a favorite of Vogue editor Diana Vreeland (she appeared regularly in the magazine throughout the decade). She was more than a fashion model; Verushka was an artist herself and viewed her modelling as a creative collaboration between herself, the clothes and the photographer. The results were spectacular- the theatricality and drama she brought to modelling was perfect for the wild and ecclectic clothing of the period.
3. Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin was a Texan singer and songwriter who rose to fame in the sixties and became one of the central figures of the Hippie movement. Although she had many issues with drugs and alcohol (which would lead to her untimely death at the age of 27), she is regarded as one of the most expressive performers and a premier blues singer. After seeing Joplin perform Stevie Nicks said, "I knew that a little bit of my destiny had changed. I would search to find that connection that I had seen between Janis and her audience. In a blink of an eye she changed my life."
Jopin was also followed for her unique fashion sense; she wore the wildest ensembles of skarves, feathers, fur and beads. Her wild, thrown together look was actually carefully crafted- Joplin employed a designer to work specifically with her (her own personal couturier if you will!) The resulting ensembles of this collaboration would make Joplin the posterchild for the counterculture movement of the late sixties.