The emergence of the '60s "youth culture" was a critical phenomenon that changed the course of history as well as the history of style. For the first time, fashion cut across classes, streetwear influenced haute couture, and designers took their cues from the tastes and demands of teenagers. British designer Mary Quant's miniskirt, made for the youthful body, largely affected the traditional look of the fashion model.
Gaunt, leggy, wraithlike Twiggy became the icon that challenged the supremely elegant, perfectly posed and groomed mannequin of high style.
The '60s saw a number of divergent trends and styles in all the arts, which seemed to fluctuate with the erratic rhythmn of dailt life. Historical events such as the Cold War, Vietnam, the Civil Rights movements, assassinations, technological miniaturization, and the landing on the moon were as turbulent and momentous as concurrent cultural phenomena: the pop-music explosion, multimedia artworks, unisex, Carnaby Street, and experimentation with drugs. In fashion, the architectural formal elegance of designs by Valentino Garavani, Norman Norell, and Cristóbal Balenciaga diverged from the visionary work of Rudi Gernreich, Yves Saint-Laurent, Geoffrey Beene, and Emilio Pucci.
Paco Rabanne and André Courrèges explored the use of nontraditional, "space-age" materials in their minimalist outfits. The versatile aesthetic of the hippie movement, with all its emphasis on brilliant color, layering, and mixing of textures, caught the imagination of a number of designers whi made a virtue of eclecticism - a trend further enriched by the effects of expanded tourism and a newly generated interest in world cultures. The syle mix of the '60s mat have been best illustrated by the collections in the last year of the decade that featured hemlines at various levels - micro, mini, midi, and maxi - all together.