Fashion Flashback:

For this week’s Fashion Flashback, we look back at a decade that changed Britain as it did the world —the 1960s — and take a look at Peggy Moffitt in what is considered to the world’s first-ever fashion film.

           —By Luisa Tarantino

Globally, the 1960s had a massive impact on culture, politics, and social issues, and for Britain, the ‘Swinging 60s’ was a defining decade. Coming out of the Second World War, the city of London completely transformed, developing from a war-torn country to the place to be, being one of the leading cultural capitals of the world.

London was more than just exciting — it was ‘swinging.’ Imagine this: revolutionary movements in music, art, culture, and fashion and the recreational and hallucinogenic drugs to go along with it. As culture thrived and developed, social changes began to mirror what was happening culturally, bringing about a slew of societal changes across the board. Fashion, too, began to reflect these new and more liberal times. For women, the mini skirt became one of the iconic symbols of 1960s fashion. Just like previous evolutions of women’s dresses and skirts throughout history, the mini skirt allowed for more movement, and tied in with the ongoing fight for women’s liberation. Women began to express themselves through the sorts of colours and prints they wore as well, ushering in more playful, youthful, and experimental fashion trends.

peggy moffitt

The 1960s was also when several popular fashion models came about. From Twiggy to Jean Shrimpton, Britain contributed its fair share of iconic models. But Britain’s American cousins were contributing to the culture as well, with American Model Peggy Moffitt finding her place on the icons list. She worked closely with designer Rudi Gernreich, an avant-garde designer who is widely considered as having created some of the most innovative fashion of the 1960s. She often modelled his work, photographed by her husband, American photographer William Claxton. Her signature asymmetrical five-point cut, her dramatic makeup, and her electric style made her an embodiment of the 1960s and all it brought about.

She featured prominently in what is considered to be the first-ever fashion film: Basic Black, filmed by William Claxton in 1967. Meant to be a promotional reel, it quickly catapulted hairstylist Vidal Sassoon and designer Rudi Gernreich into the spotlight. The film perfectly showcases the avant-garde fashion of the 60s, Moffitt’s unique modelling style, and the energy of the Swinging 60s. We think the film speaks for itself — you can watch it below.


For previous segments of Fashion Flashback, click here.

Written on: August 1, 2020