Trends in the 1960s can be credited to a few sartorial pioneers: Mary Quant invented the mini-skirt, Jackie Kennedy popularised the pillbox hat, Yves Saint Laurent created the Le Smoking tuxedo. The French designer André Courrèges is best known for introducing the revolutionary Space Look – an intergalactic breed of dressing, featuring white boots, goggles and boxy dresses, designed in futuristic metallic shades, high-shine fabrics and PVC. His technical garments pioneered a new look that blended avant-garde geometry with sport classics, driven by the youthful energy that defined the decade, and are celebrated in a new book by Emmanuelle Dirix and Charlotte Fiell, considering fashion in the 70s.
“I believe one can make women happier by bringing both more white and more colour into their lives,” Courrèges preached. “It’s ridiculous to focus on hemlines. Wearing my clothes is a question of spirit.” Courrèges translated the 60s space-craze into clothing, and when at last in 1969, man landed on the moon, Courrèges celebrated with a range of mirror-disc stamped overalls, created in the White Salon at his Avenue Kléber studio.
An engineering graduate, Courrèges completed an apprenticeship with Balenciaga before launching his eponymous label in 1961. Inspired by Le Corbusier, his clothing was very architectural: sculptural dresses in stark white, metallic squares and triangular forms. He is also credited for the ‘second skin’ – the all-over tights adopted by women in 1967. “A man must consider woman for what she really is, beyond bosoms, buttocks and all female shapes,” he advised, adding playfully, “it wouldn’t be bad to remember that bosoms and brains are inversely proportioned in a woman.”
Fashion in the '70s by Emmanuelle Dirix is out on November 6, published by Goodman-Fiell.
Words by Mhairi Graham