by Giulia Cassano
The street fair along the banks of the Naviglio (the famous canal area of Milan) is always a good place to look at beautiful vintage objects. It’s a gloomy Sunday, I am strolling with no money in my pocket and suddenly it occurs to me that there’s another interesting place a few steps from the Naviglio Grande: the Sunday Flea Market at the Bonola shopping centre that has recently moved to Porta Genova. I go there, unconvinced but curiosity-driven and eager to rummage through timeless objects on cluttered stall tables.
Old stuff must be pretty much appreciated for you need to work really hard to track something down at Bonola. You have to roll up your sleeves and rummage fearless. You will be rewarded with some exquisite objects of unknown origin: Â a doll from the 1930s, glasses, old jewelry from the 1940s, mother-of-pearl pill-boxes from the 1950s … all the things that you might eventually find in some charming vintage shops at high price.
This time my attention is drawn by a candy pink dress that stands out from a pile of crumpled rags…
Being fond of 1960s style pastel dresses I immediately buy it already planning to modify it according to the fashion of the past: It’s definitely going to become a child-like, short mini dress.
I love dresses in the movie Blow up as well as Jane Birkin and her coloured tights. Together with the big collars usually worn by children (like Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s baby) they strongly appeal to me if combined with small short dresses.
Teen fashion style in the 1960s is blatant (the swinging Sixties), an example of great freedom of expression and economic possibilities. Curvy women are no longer a role model, replaced by leggy skinny teenagers, whose spirit is embodied in famous iconic 1960s model Twiggy. Mary Quant launches the miniskirt in London, paired with red green and blue cotton tights, and soon after it takes the spotlight. In those years a curious variety of materials helps define the youth-centric Space Age chic of Basque designer Courrèges, realized through high-tech and functional materials such as vinyl and lurex.
The youth style of the sixties is revolutionary, it affects the way people live and how they interact with each other and with the opposite sex. In San Francisco the style world moves on to another trend: the hippie look, that unchains soul and dresses.
Flower children express themselves by dressing without any formality or restraint, and this lifestyle will continue to be so in the following decade. In the beautiful musical Hair the colourful characters in the story sneak into a bourgeois party: here the delicate chromatic world of the Rich is in sharp contrast with the strident power of hippie clothing. Across the Universe, the movie musical featuring about 20 songs by The Beatles, depicts a similar “universe”: a group of young people from different social backgrounds meets in New York and experiences the turbulence of the times.
The dress is in perfect condition, the fabric intact. Here under the various steps:
– I remove the silver sequin from collar and sleeves;
– I shorten sleeves;
– I reduce the overall dress size (I shorten the hem, take it in on the sides and add a zipper);
– I add some embellishments (t.i. hand-sewn beads) on the neckline and on the front.
So much ‘60s nostalgia: music, colours, shapes, energies, turbulence, changes…