1967 Fashion and Vintage Clothing
At the beginning of 1967 the cage, the shift, the tent, the cocoon, anything that hid the body and revealed nothing, were still in evidence.
And then in the spring collections in America, belts reappeared with a vengeance: a four-inch span of leather from Norman Norell; a five-inch span of suede from France, from Yves St. Laurent; wrapped three-inch widths, sometimes wider than three inches, from Jacques Tiffeau. A Tiffeau dress symbolized the spring of 1967. Of wool jersey, it was all guile and softness and delineated the figure as no clothes had in years, revealing not only the waist but a high, round bosom. Coats had belts. Suits often had belts. Even sweaters and skirts (or shorts and pants) had belts.
Other developments also indicated that the lady was out of the cage. Black lace emerged in a strapless, high-waisted, slim little thing. Sleeves shrank to skinny or bell-bottomed proportions. A black-and-red crepe dinner dress by Geoffrey Beene, an American de-signer, had such sleeves; the waistline was raised to just under the bosom, and the dress then flowed out, princess style, from there to hem. The high, Empire waist was every-where, marking the return of the figure. A turquoise and white cane-patterned thick cot-ton by the American Chuck Howard was in-dented by a high, wide belt of crushed white leather placed right under the bosom. In a barely shirtlike shirt-dress by the American designer Bill Blass, of red, white, and blue half-spheres, the waist was marked by a high, widish band just below the bosom; other features were smallish, puffy sleeves and a gently rounded skirt.
In Paris, others had thought of bodies. The Givenchy salon showed a wraparound pseudo-sari dress awash in beads, wrapped to show every line of the body. Suits by Pierre Cardin were definitely indented at a higher waist. And St. Laurent showed a safari suit not only indented at the waist but marked by a wide belt. His Les Smokings were indented at the waist, and his strapless, beaded, naked dresses swerved in at the waist and never left the body afterward. The house of Lanvin showed a strapless wonder of lame so sheer it was al-most transparent. The Jean Patou collection showed an evening dress of black glitter with a demure white schoolboy collar; the dress and its long, skinny sleeves clung to the body for its life. The Nina Ricci salon showed a superb whirling-skirted dress of pale lace that had a belt at the natural waist.
Flou, a word that had not been used too much of late, was resuscitated to describe many of the floaty, shaped dresses of the spring and summer. One such was the evening dress from Donald Brooks, an American, of silk jersey, one half peach, the other half aquamarine, all of it pleated within a millimeter of its life, and with a band of self-tied cords at the natural waist. When the wearer stood still, the dress still moved.
The dirndl was back, and no dirndled skirt could be so unless it sprang from a tiny waist. So there were summer dresses like the crinkly white-cotton charmer by the American de-signer Chester Weinberg. With an oval neck-line, it was fitted, double-breasted, and in-dented at its raised waist, then dirndled to four inches (at least) above the knee. Suits often had dirndled skirts, like almost all shown by Jacques Tiffeau, but suits were not as important in 1967 as dresses and coats, or dresses and jackets, or just plain dresses. Knits, too, had dirndled skirts, often springing from the highest sort of waist. Among these were knits by the American designer Dorothee Bis, of baby-purple cotton. Her christening dress, a long-sleeved white cot-ton, was knitted into a tiny, above-the-bosom yoke, then dirndled, and further graced by white cotton-organdy bloomers.
Caftans were going strong, and although their pyramidal shape revealed little about the shape inside, they did come through in superb colors and fabrics. Among them were charming adaptations by Oscar de la Renta, who did a Mondrian-patterned caftan of turquoise, red, orange, black, and white cotton matelasse for the American house of Jane Derby.
By late July and early August, the word from Paris did no more than confirm the American fashion picture for fall (this, by now, was a tradition). Black. The influence of the newly released film treatment of Boris Pasternak’s novel, Dr. Zhivago. Mini and midi skirts (mini, anywhere from five inches above the knees, and up; midi, halfway between knee and ankle). Velvet, brown or black. Brown. Long sleeves. Less glitter, more softness. Satin, the crepey kind that Carole Lombard and Jean Harlow knew. Belts, belts, belts—chain, leather, suede, plastic, as long as they hit above the waist or, if they were chains, right at it.
To start in Paris: One of the most beautiful blacks ever encountered was shown by Balenciaga, a long stalk of black gazar (a slightly heavier, but airier, form of organza), an evening dress blooming into a huge, crumpled gazar cape that fell no lower than waist-bottom. At Givenchy, one of the most beautiful short dresses for late-day was aired; floaty black gazar swept around toward the back, leaving the sleeveless front of the dress a perfect princess shape. Pierre Balmain leaped back into the fray with a handkerchief-pointed black organza, close to the body around the bosom, long-sleeved, “furred” at its points with black ostrich.
In the evening, many uneven hemlines appeared. Balenciaga and Givenchy evening dresses were often in medieval colors: violet, deep pink, Bristol blue. One of the most wonderful evening dresses ever was Balmain’s long-sleeved white wool, shaped into the body above its high, wide belt; its collarless neck and long belled sleeves were rimmed, narrowly at the neck and deeply at the wrists, in dark mink; a few topaz, sapphire, and jet beads provided additional decoration.
The Dr. Zhivago theme was strong abroad. The Christian Dior collection by Marc Bohan in Paris included a narrow midi-length officer’s coat of thick black wool, opulently collared and cuffed in white fox, over black wool-crepe pants and a white satin shirt. Ricci belted the waist of another thick black wool coat with a high-stacked black-leather belt; at the midi hem, the coat was almost two feet deep in white fox.
And then there was the return of Andre Courreges. His cerulean-blue twill coat, reaching halfway between knee and thigh, was shown over a white twill tent (one of the only tents seen in Paris) blotted here and there with yellow circles and hemmed in yellow. Other little coats, green and orange calfskin with a shine, bloomed with white mink flowers.
Many midi-length coats were shown in Paris, as in America, over mini skirts or short pants dresses or pants suits, featuring shorts or knickers.
In America, a brown-velvet midi skirt, by Chester Weinberg, was edged in brown mink and accompanied by a lace-edged Dr. Zhivago blouse with a high band at the neck and long, full sleeves. Unbelievable black-velvet short evening dresses were shown by George Halley, one understudied by masses of white lace, the other a short, mini-mini tunic as widespread as a tea cosy, with long sleeves and a bottom quivering with imitation jewels. Mini-length black coats were in evidence, particularly two: a fly-fronted, narrow-collared number by the firm of George Carmel, swerving in till it met the high, wide black-leather belt, then ever so gently swerving out; and a black wool coat by the firm of Jack Sarnoff, cut like a riding jacket, buttoned in gold and belted with a chain at the waist. Worn with all of these were black, lacy stockings at night, opaque black or brown stockings by day, and the new shape in shoes, round-toed, slightly higher-heeled, and gleaming. Low-heeled day shoes looking like sneakers or like bowling shoes, threaded with contrasting grosgrain, were new. Skirts, minis especially, were very big news, with their partner, the Dr. Zhivago shirt, especially marvelous in moire with a high stand-up band and long, cuffed sleeves. Less emphasis was placed on tough leather, more on suede; one of the best coats of the year was a Highlander rough shearling coat cut in the Dr. Zhivago manner, all fuzzy Iamb-skin inside and rough lamb suede outside, with a rim of curls from the inside around the outside at the neck, the cuffs, and the hem. Suede skirts and short shorts had taken over, with midi skirts, in the pants area.
Women had come back into fashion, and no one appreciated it more than they did. The year 1967 was the beginning of a long reign of fit and femininity.