1960s Swinging London

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by Mademoiselle Robot


In the mid to late ’60s, London had the swinging bug, and by swinging, I don’t mean those sexy parties that often have a big “ADULTS ONLY” sticker on the doors. We are talking cultural revolution, wild optimism and a very rich youth culture. It was a reaction to post war austerity and a celebration of the recovery of the British economy. I have been thinking about the Swinging ’60s a lot recently, as we are in the middle of a financial crisis which is already resulting in an outburst of creativity, especially in Fashion. I wonder what the atmosphere will be like when the crisis is over.

Swinging London saw fashion and photography finding their place in Queen magazine, putting designer Mary Quant under the spotlight. She is mostly known for being the “inventor” of the mini skirt and colored tights, but this is a disputed fact, as the mini skirt is also attributed to AndrĂ© Courrèges or John Bates, and the colored tights to Cristobal Balenciaga. Mary Quant’s role was mostly to bring those items into the mainstream. Her shop, Bazaar, was a well known shopping stop for the whole of the Chelsea set.


Twiggy, aka Lesley Hornby, was discovered in 1966 and modeled for Mary Quant. Together they created a high fashion mod look and took the fashion world by storm with Twiggy’s androgynous looks.

The Swinging ’60s Guide:

Queen magazine – It is a publication focusing on British “high society”. It was created in 1862. In the late 50’s, it was taken over by editor Beatrix Miller and restyled to appeal to a younger, more hip audience.


Mod – The mod scene developed when British teenagers began to reject the British culture around them. From the mid ’60s, the media often used the term “mod” to describe anything that was believed to be popular, fashionable or modern.


Twiggy – She is the first supermodel and was discovered at age 16 by Nigel Davis. She is mostly known for her atypical looks, short hair and unusual make up style.


Parisian expat in London, Mademoiselle Robot is a magazine Editor
turned fashion blogger.  On mademoisellerobot.com, she offers style
tips, interviews of artists and designers, outfit ideas and she even
launched her own TV channel!  Her blog has been featured in the
Independent, A nous Paris, Modepass and many others.

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1 eyeliah { 05.29.09 at 1:56 pm }

Would be such a wild time to be a part of!!

2 deja pseu { 05.30.09 at 7:04 am }

Don’t forget the influence of The Beatles. They really were a cultural phenomenon, and ushered in the era known as the “British Invasion” in music and fashion.
Twiggy was also known for being (for the time) shockingly thin. Today, she doesn’t look out of the norm for models, but at the time there was quite a controversy.

3 Jonathan Walford { 10.15.11 at 8:09 am }

Do you have a source for that middle image of the five women wearing that dress? I have that dress in my collection, its navy blue, and it is labelled Mary Quant. I would love to get a copy of that image, and also any information associated with it – date? etc.


4 Sandra { 10.15.11 at 12:04 pm }

Jonathan – unfortunately this was a guest post and I don’t know the source of the image. I have seen this image all over the web though.

5 Beatrice { 04.17.12 at 3:07 pm }

Anything Mary Quant is ultra cool. I just bought a cute short shift for a wedding that is so much like a Mary Quant shift I had back in the day. Always grateful for anything “Quantish”!

6 Roger { 09.19.12 at 1:24 pm }

My stepfather was the MD of the John Stevens group in the 60s,my mother was the founder of Securicor which involved cleaning Centrepoint,between them the 60s were heady days!For myself i went into fashion,theres a book there somewhere!

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