Review: Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution

In vocal it sounds like “Love, love me do” or perhaps “Shake it up baby… TWIST AND SHOUT”, but how does it look? It looks perky and bold, it looks like a miniskirt. Though a miniskirt sounds relatively innocent, the power of it is stated this spring with two major exhibitions at V&A and the Fashion and Textile Museum and the launch of a new book Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution.

All three centers around The Chelsea Set, a group of west London’s bohemian designers who revolutionized British lifestyle. The main represents are Britain’s Godmother of fashion, Mary Quant, and knighted designer Terence Conran. They visualized a social and cultural change, a change in the public mind that came with the end of the war. It was a change in sound, surely, but it was a change in looks too. Quant used bolder (that means smaller) silhouettes, different (that means smaller) materials and stronger colors. She made sure that the women of Britain could make the sixties swing, by concentrating her designs on functionality and practicality. Okay, miniskirts may have several functions, but hotpants and jumper dresses as opposed to hobble skirts eased a lot of work. Quant created ‘the Chelsea girl’ by putting herself in front as the face of the sixties’ bourgeoise and thought her choice of models, we’re talking Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton and Grace Coddington. Conran gave his to the revolution, with his furniture design that, “had something of an egalitarian idealism about it”. ‘The Good Life’ had finally made it to the Brits and you can leaf through it yourself when Swinging London: A Lifestyle Revolution launches the 30th of April.

Words by Mathilde Nielsen
For more information, see Fashion and Textile Museum