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Colourful 1960s fashion

August 28, 2015

So what happened to the psychedelic mods of the 60s? While everyone else was heading for the bunker with their fishbowl helmets on, psycho-mods headed for the fields and meadows with their guitars and the most colourful 1960s fashion wardrobe Earth has ever seen.


The interflora brigade replaced their Courrèges tinfoil with some Emilio Pucci or James Galanos silk kaftans, slim-fitting or A-lined dresses, headscarves and string bags full of illegal substances.

Colourful 1960s fashion and art

Psychedelia and 60s counter culture

As the decade wore off, the geometric prints gave way to rich florals and motifs borrowed from Art Deco, Art Nouveau, folk and Eastern art.


The garments sold relatively cheaply in boutiques or via popular mail order, along with a greater disposable income for the young changed the way young women consumed fashion. However, as a reaction against growing consumerism, some artists and designers turned towards the Eastern values and Eastern-inspired way of dress.

Colourful 1960s fashion -Paper Dresses

As Pop replaced Op, paper dresses replaced chain mail and heavy plastic. First introduced in 1966 by the Scott Paper Company – the producers of toilet tissue – as a marketing stunt, disposable paper dresses soon became a symbol of the consumerist fashion craze of the 60s.


From Campbell soup’s ‘Souper Dress’, to various daily newspapers and political campaigners, the paper dresses begin to appear as a valuable promotional tool, either as a cool poster art or as a political statement.


Tailored as simple shifts or pinafores, they were perfect for the youthful, optimistic generation of festival-goers – hopefully worn away from the rain.


The dresses used cellulose or nylon to make them more durable (a bit like today’s hospital gowns), but were in general not very comfortable to wear. They were flammable and their bright colours wore off quickly, but this didn’t stop the paper dress craze from surviving till the end of the decade.

Poster art and couture of the 60s

Art and music continued to influence fashion, and vice versa.The groovy, colourful 1960s fashion designs of the psychedelic art, especially the fantastical poster art of Wes Wilson, enhanced the mind-melting and mind-bending effects of the hallucinogenic drugs.


Wes Wilson borrowed the streamlined, fluid drawing from the Art Nouveau and teamed it up with ‘melted’ lettering in acid colours, creating some of the most coveted poster art classics of the period. The poster art was often worn – on t-shirts, dresses, or painted directly on to the body, whereas some of the fashion illustrations (like those by Antonio Lopez) are also collectable art.


Colourful 1960s fashion - Lingerie illustration from McCall’s, 1967.

Lingerie illustration from McCall’s, 1967.


Influenced by all this, fashion houses of Christian Dior and Jeanne Lanvin created some of the most beautiful patterned silks of the decade.


Kaftans were worn short, with long flowing sleeves, with hair in a soft bouffant, accessorized with lots of plastic beads and colourful make-up. Make-up and body paint came into their own in the 60s.

Colourful 1960s fashion -60s superheroes!

After all that acid, it was hardly surprising that the 1960s opened up a season of superheroes, heralded by the houses of Carven, Givenchy and Balenciaga. This flying fashion squad made a short, billowy cape a chic indispensable companion to a mini- or micro-dress. It’s nice to think that superheroes of the Marvel comics very likely owe their powers to the drug-fuelled mastermind of the psychedelic artists of the 1960s.




Alice In Wonderland Poster, 1967
Swinging Sixties girls all agree that tree over there is especially groovy
Camouflage frocks from the 60s
Camouflage frocks from the 60s
Op Art beach wear
Sitting in tall grass was a favourite pastime
Headache induced by smelling too many flowers
Colourful 1960s fashion – Dress by James Galanos-1965
Penelope Tree by David Bailey -1969
Bob Dylan paper dress, 1967, photograph by Harry Gordon
“I like boys… John, Ringo and Mao”
Mobile exhibitions on disposable dresses
Veruschka by Henry Clark, 1966.
Colourful 1960s fashion – Flammable party girl
Jane Asher in Ossie Clark paper mini dress
Emilio Pucci was all about a bodystocking
Flatpack dress
Some paper dresses came with instructional arrows
Paper dress from 1966
Twiggy in a chip wrapper, June 1967
Paper dresses used for political campaign during the Nixon Humphrey era in the USA
The Doors concert poster by Wes Wilson
Wes Wilson for Jefferson Airplane
Antonio Lopez, 1960s
Antonio Lopez, 1968
Antonio Lopez, 1967
Christian Dior, 1960s
Flower power 1968
Colourful 1960s fashion – Jeanne Lanvin, 1960s
Marisa Berenson in 1960s psychedelic mod fashion

Twiggy in a psychedelic dress, 1960s

Audrey Hepburn wearing Valentino cape on the set of Charade, 1963

Little Red Riding Hood, August 1961
Superheroine, Pierre Cardin style

Nothing says Superhero like this fetching shorts and cape ensemble