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From Haughty to Nice: How British Fashion Images Changed from the 1950s to the 1960s

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Abstract:

Along with rock 'n' roll, fashion and its visual representations epitomize 1960s “Swinging London.” The 1950s look of aristocratic, haughty grandeur—where the models looked 30, even if they were 20—gave way to the demotic, nice, young look of the 1960s. The models ride, run, jump, and climb in the 1960s photographs, whereas the top British fashion photographer of the 1950s, John French, required a handful of static poses of his models. Yet, the idea of a radical break in the late 1960s is simplistic and unhelpful as a way of thinking about the history of fashion, photography, the media, and society in postwar Britain. Drawing on oral history interviews with fashion models, photographers, and editors, this article argues that the stars of the Swinging Sixties, such as Bailey, Shrimpton and Twiggy, were able to build on innovations from the late 1950s made by John French and Norman Parkinson, along with their models, and the "Young Idea" section of British Vogue. This article draws on research funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, for Conekin's next book, Pretty Hard Work: A History of Fashion Modelling in PostWar London and Paris .

Keywords: 1950S; 1960S; FASHION MODELS; FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY; LONDON; SWINGING SIXTIES; VOGUE

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/175145109X12804957025552

Publication date: November 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Photography & Culture is a refereed journal that is international in its scope and inter-disciplinary in its contributions. It aims to interrogate the contextual and historic breadth of photographic practice from a range of informed perspectives and to encourage new insights into the media through original and incisive writing.

    Photography & Culture publishes research papers, discursive critiques, and reviews. In doing so, it offers a leading platform for critical thinking on photography and as essential reading the world over for academics, curators and practitioners with a central and indeed tangential interest in the media.

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