Originating in London, England, the mod subculture peaked in the early to mid-1960s, with multiple resurgences since. It began with the beatniks and dandy’s of the 1950s, and eventually gave way to the psychedelic rock and hippie generation in the late ’60s.
In post-war Britain, youths of the early 1960s were of the first generations with a disposable income in a now booming economy, and began using it to buy stylish clothes. They aimed at being “cool, neat, sharp, hip and smart” and paved their own way towards it. The fashion revolution was youth-oriented and youth driven, beginning in the streets when British teenagers began to reject the middle class culture around them and embrace all things sexy and streamlined. In its heyday, mod was known as a fashion-obsessed and hedonistic culture of young adults in metropolitan London.
Female mods dressed androgynously and got short haircuts, sometimes wearing men’s clothing with little makeup. By the time the mod movement reached the mainstream, however, it had morphed from an underground style to a more commercialized fashion, complete with miniskirts, bold graphic prints, and heavy eyeliner and lashes. The high-fashion mod look was characterized by models like Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton, was bold and brash and undeniably sexier than previous generations’ muted housewife style.
Peggy Moffitt was a well-known high fashion model in the 1960s, recognized for her asymmetrical haircut and heavy Kabuki-like makeup style. She played muse to Rudi Gernreich and made international headlines in his designs thanks to photographs by her husband William Claxton.
Edie Sedgwick was an American actress, socialite, fashion model and heiress, but is best known for being one of Any Warhol’s superstars. In 1965, she was “Girl of the Year”, and was one of the first to be coined an “It Girl,” popular with everyone from Vogue to Bob Dylan.
Actress Goldie Hawn was also seen as a 1960s “It” girl, equipped with the quintessential haircut and doe eyes. Her career has only blossomed since then, but we love old-school Goldie style.
Jean Shrimpton, another superstar of the ’60s, was a British model and actress and all-around icon of the mod era. She is considered one of the world’s first supermodels, appearing on the covers of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Elle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Newsweek, and Time magazines.
Probably the most recognizable (and adorable) face of the 1960s belongs to Twiggy. Leslie Lawson, nicknamed Twiggy thanks to her slender frame, was a teenage British model that became the face of the mod generation in the mid-1960s, her iconic androgynous look characterized by her large eyes, long eyelashes, and short hair.
The Swinging London of the ’60s emphasized the new and modern, so much so that it still seems new and modern every time it comes back into style. Even in 2013, the short haircut, defined lashes and crisp mod shapes can’t be beat. Here’s to the stylish mod ladies that came before us.