I loved the sixties from an early age. It began with an interest in beehives and mini-dresses. Like many I adored the images of Twiggy, all large eyes and long legs. Other cultural touchstones fed my fascination: Mary Quant, Biba, The Beatles, Carnaby Street, The Kinks, Flower Power, the CND peace sign, brightly coloured VW camper vans. After the visuals came the movements. Feminism. Youth Rebellion. Martin Luther King’s marches.
I’m reducing the fleshed-out figure of a decade to a few rib bones, but it gives a taste. Besides, to many my age the sixties is composed of this skeleton-like assortment of bits. I guess it’s the case with any decade. With the seventies come flares, glam-rock and NHS glasses. With the eighties it’s shoulder pads and Thatcher. So much happens in the course of ten years. Music, fashion, film, politics, cultural output, revolutions, economy, wars, trends, technology – the list of changes and transitions stack up quickly. Labour to Conservative. Rock n’Roll to Pop to Punk. The cinema to TV to computer to tablet.
A varied set of recognizable markers usually stands in for the whole. The whole can only really be gauged if one is a historian or a keen enthusiast. It requires books and research and plenty of interest.
I wonder what the 2000s or the decade we’re currently living through will be condensed down to? There will be the major global events, of course. But what if we focus on fashion? There are no unifying looks – no style that seems so unique that it could become a symbol. Or maybe there are. Maybe we can’t pinpoint what will represent our times because we’re still living through them. But it seems that it will be different from before. Where the sixties could be distinguished by certain patterns of fabric or the length of a hemline, now is the time of constant change. Things don’t alter by the year, but by the month – or even week. What was considered trendy in May has already moved on. A look that once took time to develop is now produced, publicised and deemed passé within a short time span.
The advantage of this is greater acceptance when it comes to wearing what you want. Rigid conformity does exist among the most serious of style devotees (and perhaps remains strong for many young adolescents still trying out an identity). But we plunder the past more than ever before. Twenties' flapper dresses rub shoulders with seventies' lurex. Whatever you’re interested in, there will be something to suit you. Technology advances have also given rise to Mary Katrantzou’s extraordinary prints, with interiors and postage stamps transformed into wearable items.
We live among great possibility. But is there just too much of it? Every day thousands of new snaps are uploaded and comments made. You're reading this on one of the millions of blogs that currently exist, with new ones springing up every single day.
I’m fascinated to know how the years from 2010 to 2020 will appear to the next few generations. Maybe we’ll look back and find ourselves distinguished by an obsession with reality TV and Twitter (I hope not). Maybe it’ll be seen as a time of immense change, for better and for worse. Or maybe so much of it that feels important right now will be forgotten, filed away, left for academics and obscure books. That’s a lot of maybes. But then again, nothing is definite.
This multicoloured sixties two-piece was picked up in a local charity shop for £10. The dress and little coat were actually on separate hangers in different parts of the shop. I fortuitously found both and bought them together. The sandals are from Jones bootmakers and all accessories are vintage - including original sixties clip-on earrings from my paternal grandma.