Fashion from the sexy ’s60s

  • 2012-05-10
  • By Rokas M. Tracevskis

TRIUMPH OF ELEGANCE: Photo from the exhibition “Fashion from the 1960s.”

VILNIUS - The exhibition “From Mini to Maxi. Fashion from the 1960s” at the Vilnius Museum of Applied Art, which is a branch of the Lithuanian Art Museum, will be on show until Nov. 4. The exhibition presents women’s clothing, as well as hats, shoes, handbags, and other accessories. There are also some big black-and-white fashion photos from the 1960s. The exhibition presents clothing produced by the most prominent fashion houses of the 1960s, such as Chanel, Dior, Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, Cardin, Courreges, Laroche, Cassini, and Valentino. This exhibition has already partially been exhibited in Sidney, Istanbul, St. Petersburg and Moscow. The new variation of the exhibition was on display in Riga, and now it is presented in Vilnius.

The exhibition is the collection of Alexandre Vassiliev, who was born in Moscow and later moved to Paris via his marriage to a Frenchwoman to avoid service in the Soviet army. Now Vassiliev is a frequent guest in Russia’s various glamor magazines and Russian TV shows, but his two favorite homes are outside Russia – an apartment in Paris and a house in Vilnius, where he spends his summers and presents his exhibitions on fashion of various epochs.

The fashion revolution of the 1960s started when the British fashion designer Mary Quant invented the miniskirt, although they were the choice mostly for young women, while the elderly ladies preferred longer skirts. Quant named the miniskirt after her favorite car, the Mini, which, due to the fuel shortage of the Suez Crisis of 1956, was started to be produced in Britain from 1959.

The 1960s was the time of sexual revolution and The Beatles and it deeply influenced fashion design. There are some dresses from Italy, Britain and the USA in the exhibition though the production of Paris dominates. 1960s produced many French habitual revolutionaries: Johnny Hallyday, who is considered French rock and roll’s biggest star of all time, though he is unknown outside the French-speaking world (too French for the common people while not French enough for Frankophiles); songwriter and singer Serge Gainsbourg, who with his future British girlfriend Jane Birkin released the song Je t’aime… moi non plus (“I love you… nor do I” in French) where Birkin simulated loud female orgasms among explicit lyrics; Jean-Luc Godard and other filmmakers of the French New Wave, whose movies had no taboo themes, no easily predictable characters and no silly happy endings.

The peak of that cultural revolution was the student uprising in Paris of 1968, which meant the victory of the liberal jeans culture and hard times for the fashion houses presented at the exhibition. This exhibition presents dresses and accessories for the upper class, not some raggedy jeans. Anyway, some echo of the revolutionary spirit of the 1960s is felt in the exhibition: for example, there is a necklace decorated with the pacifist peace sign on one of the dresses. o

The Museum of Applied Art (Arsenalo Street 3A) is open on Tuesdays – Saturdays from 11:00 to 18:00 and on Sundays (and the days before national holidays) from 11:00 to 16:00. Closed on Mondays and national holidays