accessories

   Mary Quant was at the forefront of the rising importance of fashion accessories in the 1960s. Quant introduced shiny plastic hipster belts with matching handbags and coloured tights which were all a fundamental part of the image for women. The nostalgic, wistful and romantic fashions of the 1970s were a reaction to the grim cultural scene and to the militant feminism of the time. Barbara Hulanicki, creator of Biba, had a marked effect on the accessories development. She was the first to sell soft skull caps with fringes of angelic curls framing the face. She was also responsible for popularising the pillbox hat with the small veil, which in the late 1970s became the most popular accessory for weddings (see fashion, wedding). Punk, one of the biggest stories in fashion in the 1970s, provided a snarling response to conventional fashion. Born out of a relatively short lived anti-fashion street cult, it ended up representing some of the most pivotal ideas of its time through its notoriety, its similarity to tribal intimidation techniques and its anti-establishment political stance. In 1977 Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood opened their shop Sex on the Kings Road, London, and the key accessories consisted of a plethora of safety pins and metal chains, both for body piercing and for garment adornment. Punk anti-fashion filtered through not only to new wave street styles, but also to designers such as Zandra Rhodes and later in the 1980s to Jean-Paul Gaultier.
   The market, rather than the medium, was the message in the 1980s, with wealth and the image of wealth a style attribute in itself. The Big Bang, with the greater accessibility to the stock markets, symbolized a return to the values of laissez-faire capitalism and a new breed of individual developed, the Yuppie. The smart accessories were Porsche cars, Filofaxes, Psion organizers, mobile phones and laptop computers.
   In 1981 Roy Bishko, a South African lawyer, opened the first Tie Rack branch in Oxford Street, London, thus completely revolutionizing the notion of the fashion accessory. The company, whose key shops are located in airports, has been a phenomenal international success and has been instrumental in the appearance of countless other similar accessorydedicated retailers.
   The 1990s saw an enormous backlash against many of the values promoted in the 1980s. Environmentally friendly issues became increasingly influential and, despite the growing demand for new and exciting images, a heightened sensitivity to goods and the way to wear them became the most fashionable accessory.
   Further reading
    Mulvey, K. and Richards, M. (1998) Decades of Beauty. The Changing Image of Women 1890s-1990s, London: Hamlyn.
   FATIMA FERNANDES

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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