News

Mini-skirts still riding high after 50 years

It was all too much for Coco Chanel.

As the 60s started to swing, the French fashion icon pronounced mini-skirts to be "just awful". She also famously declared that she had never met a man who liked women wearing them.

How wrong can you be?

Half a century later and with Mary Quant, the woman credited with inventing it, turning 80 on Tuesday, the mini remains a wardrobe staple worldwide.

A hemline halfway up the thigh is no longer synonymous with rebellion and newly-won sexual freedom, as it was in the mini's first decade.

But the style remains as popular as ever, with the likes of Kate Moss and Sienna Miller having lately given it a contemporary twist as an element of the "boho chic" look copied by millions, AFP reported.

Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel's current artistic director, recently described Coco's dismissal of the mini as one of the biggest mistakes she ever made.

The German designer has underlined that belief by making above-the-knee skirts a staple of the Chanel suit.

"Coco must be turning in her grave," observed Laurent Cotta, a fashion historian.

Mr Cotta echoes Ms Quant's own admission that the mini was a trend on the streets before she gave it its name, taking inspiration from another 60s design classic, the Mini car.

Said Mr Cotta: "It was a revolution but it didn't come out of nowhere. The trend was already established.

"It was in the air - a mini-skirt was a way of rebelling. It stood for sensuality and sex. Wearing one was a sure-fire way of upsetting your parents."

Ms Quant, meanwhile, is still brimming with enthusiasm for fashion and women's rights.

She admits a certain nostalgia for the "high excitement and innovation" of 1960s "Swinging London", but told AFP it was "wonderful to be a woman and alive right now".

"Women are enjoying their lives more than ever before," she said in an e-mailed statement, and gave an approving nod to current trends: "It is all legs and bottoms."