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Dresses from Alexander Vasilyev's collection

Maximally Short “Minis” 0

Exhibition of Alexander Vasilyev's collection from Paris

“From the Mini to the Maxi. Fashion from the 1960's”

Museum of Decorative Arts and Design

Riga, Latvia

July 8 – October 2


In the 1960's, guns were loaded with flowers and the fashion doll Barbie was a popular choice for a present; the  1960's gave us the pop-music group “The Beatles” and the Latvian satire/musical group “The Chicago Five”. This is also the decade that put the “mini” in women's closets. Where were you when all of this happened?

The world-famous fashion historian Alexander Vasilyev's collection from Paris, “From the Mini to the Maxi. Fashion of the 1960's”, is on display at the Decorative Arts and Design Museum from July 8 to October 2. There is a tendency to look upon the 1960's as one separate era in the chronology of the 20th century and, in terms of fashion, that assumption is correct. The 1960's can be separated into two fairly distinct periods. The first years of the decade balanced on the swaying pedestal of 1950's style, yet the nearing of a radical revolution in the world of fashion could be sensed. Experimentation continued through the cultivation of previously drawn trends, as well as through the emergence of new, contrasting ones.

The later years embodied an explosion in the folly of feral fashion. Laconic lines, psychedelic color combinations, dramatics and contrasts, geometric figures and large fields of color, black and white graphics, visual illusions of pop-art and op-art in clothing – all of these not only brightly characterized the world of the 1960's, but they also still symbolize the ways that art manifested itself in that time. Everything that had to do with color and form (design, photography, fashion), as well as anything that induced emotional reaction, was included in the category of art.

In the middle of the 1960's, when British designers like Ossie Clark, Bill Giba and Mary Quant dictated the fashion world and Paris's Courreges, Ungaro and Yves Saint Laurent were already iconic names in the world of high fashion, an unprecedented fashion phenomenon appeared – the “mini”. Hemlines shrunk to just 7 to 8 cm above the knee, gaining followers and opponents alike. The expansion of the “mini” in fashion gained further impulse and popularity when, in 1964, the fashion designer Andre Courreges debuted this new trend of reduced clothing in Vogue magazine. Coco Chanel, however, called the skimpy article of clothing “the most absurd trick that a woman can use to seduce a man”, and encouraged a more conservative form of opposition – the pantsuit.

Alexander Vasilyev's collection that is now on exhibit is dedicated to the fashion of the 1960's and includes dresses from such legendary houses of fashion as Chanel, Christian Dior, Pierre Balmain, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Nina Ricci, Jean Lanvin, Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, Guy Laroche, Oleg Cassini, and Irene Galitzine. Alongside these designers, Vasilyev's collection also contains pieces from lesser-known ateliers of the time – Anne Sorrente, Valentina, Mansfield, Lord Tailor, J. Bernardon, as well as designs with authors unknown.

The collection has been created on the basis of scientific research with the goal of not only conserving this cultural legacy, but also making it available to the public.

It is worth mentioning here that Alexander Vasilyev's collection “Art Deco Style” is still on view at the Decorative Arts Museum in Vilnius until August 20. It was exhibited in Riga last year.


Skārņu Street 10/20

Riga, Latvia