The Miniskirt

"Wear it if you dare!" That was the challenge any fashionable sixties girl wasted no time embracing in 1965, when this iconic garment first hit the streets. Before miniskirts, female knees and thighs were rarely seen away from the beach or the swimming pool.

miniskirt

SPACE-AGE DESIGN

In London, designer Mary Quant had been producing cutting-edge clothes for several years. Bazaar, her shop in the King's Road, was a magnet for the capital's hippest trend-setters.

Quant hemlines had been rising steadily but when she produced a skirt that ended several inches above the knee the fashion world went wild. The miniskirt - said to have been named by Quant after the Mini car - was an instant hit on the streets of London and rapidly spread across the globe. Hemlines shot up everywhere but nowhere more so than in London, where skirts were finishing a breezy 7-8 inches above the knee.

Quant wasn't the only designer experimenting with short skirts at that time, though. Some fashion historians suggest that the true inventor of the miniskirt was a French designer called Andre Courreges. Courreges was inspired by "space-age" clothing and - around the same time as Quant - is said to have produced a short skirt to go with his Go-Go Boots, the original name for the thigh-length boots still popular today.

MORE THAN JUST CLOTHING

Perhaps Courreges was first. But Quant undeniably popularised the look, often teaming it with another new garment - tights. Until the miniskirt, tights hadn't really taken off but, with all that leg on show, designers went to town with wacky colours and elaborate patterns.

Of course, a miniskirt looked best on you if you were young and slim. It was more than a piece of clothing. It was a statement that directly confronted the deferential society of post-war Britain. The miniskirt said there was nothing wrong with showing your legs. It was saying, in fact, that there was nothing wrong with being young. Now, that's groovy, baby!