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1966-1968 mini-dress (1999.101)

During the later 1960s, some dress designs were so innovative and striking that they became classics as soon as they were launched on the catwalk. Yves St Laurent's "Mondrian" look of 1966 was one of these, influenced by the Dutch abstract painter, Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), and his "neo-plasticism" which used blocks of primary colours. The department store C&A copied this design in a wool shift dress made in geometric bands of contrasting purple, green and black in direct emulation of YSL's dresses which used scarlet, black and white. Only a handful of wealthy women could afford Parisian prices; hundreds could shop for something very similar on their high street.

The simple shapes of these later 1960s dresses provided an ideal canvas for such bold "painterly" patterns, as did 1920s beaded dance dresses. Some contemporary clothes, such as the top illustrated here from Top Shop, also base their design on blocks of contrasting colour imitating abstract art works and, as in this example, they can be deliberately very reminiscent of YSL's sixties Mondrian look, and in effect, copies.

Full item descriptions:

"mini dress" [1999.101], C & A, Yves Saint Laurent (pattern)
"top" [2004.103], Topshop

Related Themes:

1920s Dance Dresses
High Street Fashion
1960s Fashion