Mod Fever

If I were to ask you what you thought of when I mention the 1960’s, what would you say?  Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr., the first moon landing, and Vietnam? Or would you think more about the pop culture surrounding the time such as the Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy craze, classic cars, and rock n’ roll?

Well, this fall you might be seeing a bit of the swinging sixties in stores with mod dresses making a popular comeback.  Fashion in the sixties was innovative, creative, bold, and brash, but it wasn’t our American celebrities that were setting the trends. No, sixties fashion belonged to, my favorite city, London, England.  Just as politics ushered in an attitude of “anything goes” fashion was breaking all the rules with influences from The Beatles and Mary Quant.  Now, I’m sure most of you know who The Beatles are (and if you don’t, shame on you) but some of you might be oblivious to who Mary Quant is.

Mary Quant is a British designer born in 1934 who, almost solely, was responsible for popularizing the sixties trends, including the miniskirt.  It was her instant success that made other, more cautious, designers re-think their designs and how it would appeal to the now, important youth market who set trends on fire.

Even today, we are seeing designers and businesses such as Derek Lam and Target re-invent their clothing lines or add a new line to their brand name such as Pendleton’s, The Portland Collection, to appeal to a more contemporary market.

Just as the clothing in the sixties was meant to offer a carefree attitude in a time of controversy, I think mod dresses today have the same meaning for 2011.  Mod dresses are easy to wear, comfortable, and can be fashioned several types of ways from pairing them with tights and a blazer to flats and a jean jacket to a turtleneck and boots!  Also, you can find them in tons of different colors and prints. Most popular would be the color blocking pattern of the sixties but also
ones donned with floral sequined patterns. We’re shedding the pastels of spring
and making a bold statement into fall with statement colors like red, black,
and white.

Calvin Klein Fall '11

Victoria Beckham Mod dress

Contemporary mod dress

While the cut has not changed so much, the fabric used for current day shift dresses has.  More and more we are seeing items of clothing, dresses especially, made out of nothing other than…Ponte-knit material! Why, you ask? Because of the comfort and ease of movement this fabric offers.  If I haven’t convinced you yet to step out of your polyester box, run to the store, and purchase a piece of Ponte-something, I’m not sure what else I can do.  Don’t expect this fabric to go away anytime soon.  I feel it is one to stay around for a very long time.

Twiggy in 1966

From Twiggy to Anne Hathaway to Victoria Beckham this dress is a must-have for fall. So, step back into the “modern” ages with a mod shift dress.  Experiment with a new color, pattern, and fabric, and as always, pile on the glam accessories!

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A Bit of European Inspiration: Stella McCartney

It would be difficult to state simply one thing that I loved about living in London.  Forget that there are more than a handful of different nationalities and cultures to experience within the city, the uniqueness in which each borough brings from trendy Islington to characteristic Camden, or the fact that each street has a deep and rich history behind its name.  London inspired me in every way from the architecture, people, museums, and parks.  Each weekend I would hop on the tube, travel to a stop unknown, hop off and find my way back by foot.  By doing this, I was able to explore the little spots that are not typically found in your Frommer’s travel guide.  I found great restaurants, intricate pubs, and of course…shops! 

I believe that where you come from and the experiences you collect throughout your life influence who you are, what you do, and what lies to come.  Each fashion designer has a different background, a different perception of what fashion is to them, as we all do.  To understand a designer’s collection, you must first understand the designer.  Since this week we are speaking of London and what inspires, I find it only appropriate to include one of my favorite designers in the topic.  She is young, inventive, and ambitious in helping women dress stylishly with ease.  Not only do her stunning collections take over the runways, but they do so being Earth friendly as well, not harming animals and opting for organic fabrics when possible.  She also just so happens to be the daughter of one of the most iconic men who ever lived, Sir Paul McCartney, one of four members of a band you might possibly have heard of…the Beatles!

Designer, Stella McCartney (shown far right with father, Paul).

Stella McCartney was born in 1971 and although she had a bit more than normal upbringing, she found that her passion in life was not in music, like her father, but in fashion.  In 1995, Stella graduated from the well known Central St. Martin’s college in London and immediately began creating her own collections.  Showing her keen sense of style and eye for fashion, she was appointed Creative Director for the chic design house, Chloé for Paris, in 1997.  While some believed she was not accomplished enough and too young to take control of such a large name, Stella drove forward and succeeded in redefining the company’s image and greatly increasing revenues. After four years, she decided it was time for a change, starting up her own company alongside Gucci.  She then opened up her own boutique to sell her designs in Mayfair, London. 

McCartney's Store Front in Mayfair, London.

Having been in her boutique, it is truly one of the most beautiful stores I have stepped into.  The house offers a home appeal with her pieces of work shown throughout various rooms in unique forms.  For instance, as I climbed the spiral staircase to the second floor, I entered a dining room with a table set with exquisite china, fancy glasses, and on top of each decorative plate setting, a pair of shoes from her latest collection.  Stella designs for the everyday woman.  She creatively mixes strong, masculine pieces alongside feminine ones to offer a fresh take on the look.  She shows in her collections that fashion need not be over the top, extravagant, and out of the ordinary to be in style but designs with clean lines and an idea that a well made garment speaks for itself. 

Pieces from McCartney's '10 Collection

As Stella McCartney’s pieces of work speak for themselves, Stella is influential in showing the world of young go-getters that anything is achievable if you believe in what you are doing.  Inspiration is everywhere; in the lines of your favorite book, the fantasy of motion pictures, and in the individuality of people.  I find it inspiring to know the history and background of those who have accomplished so much in their fields and feel it offers a greater sense of what you are capable of in life with a little patience, a generous amount of ambition, and a giant heap of passion.