The iconic garment of the swinging 60s is back on the fashion radar again. And what would be a better time than summer to add a mini to your wardrobe once more?
Most recent revival of the teeny skirt was in 2014, however the history of short hemlines starts thousands of years ago: some of the archaeological finds include figurines dressed in clothes with short hems dating as early as from between 5400 and 4700 B.C. Ancient Egyptian frescoes depict acrobats wearing minis. While the garments resembling miniskirts have also been seen on illustrations of the Duan Qun Miao (a subculture in China) in the albums antedating early eighteenth century.
It was twentieth century when the evolution of mini started: in today’s world you’ll hardly surprise anyone with a thigh-skimming hemline, but back in the day a miniskirt was a sign of rebellion, a political statement, a way to empower women – the emancipation of feminist ideas. With the arrival of 1920s flapper style, it was Josephine Baker performing at the Folies Bergère in Paris wearing her banana skirt that created the most significant impression in 1926.
The rise of the miniskirt began in the 50s: it wasn’t in the common fashion scene as you would expect, while cinched waists and below the knee hourglass silhouettes prevailed the conventional standards at the time, the imagination ran wild on the screen with futuristic sci-fi films and television series like “Flight to Mars”, “Forbidden Planet”, “Space Patrol”, planting a seed for miniskirt fashion.
1964 was the year when it all changed. Though the debate continues as to who exactly was the inventor of a miniskirt as we know it today, it’s the British designer Mary Quant, co-founder of the famous Bazaar boutique in 1955 in London’s Chelsea, who is proclaimed to be the mother of the miniskirt. It was Quant who gave the skirt it’s name, she called it after her car – The Mini Cooper.
The mini car went exactly with the miniskirt; it did everything one wanted, it looked great, it was optimistic, exuberant, young, flirty, it was exactly right…
Unlike Mary Quant, who refused to accept the title of the inventor of the garment and always credited “the girls in the street”, André Courrèges, among other pioneers of the design like John Bates and Jean Varon, claimed the fame. Miniskirts were the arrogant, sexy, attention-grabbing celebration of youth, freedom and opportunity.
Since the 60s the short hemlines thrived. Despite the lull in the 1970s, the revival of the miniskirt in the 80s was unstoppable from the rah-rah skirt to power suits; minis entered the 90s on an all-time high. Popularised by movies and TV shows miniskirt became a wardrobe staple. Early 2000’s have seen the minis get even shorter giving birth to micro-miniskirts, contagion of which fueled by celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.
The current return of the mini was expected, since we live in a time when designers revisit the bygone eras for inspiration, and bring back iconic designs, modernising them to fit the fashion notions of today. And the miniskirt is trending. It’s up to you whether to love it or hate it: even Coco Chanel and Christian Dior weren’t the fans of the trend at the time; but it’s officially a fashion approved right to bare your legs this summer.
by Olga Permyakova
Cover photo: Remy Muntu
Styling: Victoria Kolotova @victoriakolotova
Model: Polina Pavlikova