A miniskirt (sometimes hyphenated as mini-skirt, separated as mini skirt, or sometimes shortened to simply mini) is a skirt with its hemline well above the knees, generally at mid-thigh level, normally no longer than 10 cm (4 in) below the buttocks; and a dress with such a hemline is called a minidress or a miniskirt dress. A micro-miniskirt or microskirt is a miniskirt with its hemline at the upper thigh, at or just below crotch or underwear level.
Short skirts have existed for a long time before they made it into mainstream fashion, though they were generally not called "mini" until they became a fashion trend in the 1960s. Instances of clothing resembling miniskirts have been identified by archaeologists and historians as far back as c. 1390–1370 BC. In the early 20th century, the dancer Josephine Baker's banana skirt that she wore for her mid-1920s performances in the Folies Bergère was subsequently likened to a miniskirt. Extremely short skirts became a staple of 20th-century science fiction, particularly in 1940s pulp artwork, such as that by Earle K. Bergey, who depicted futuristic women in a "stereotyped combination" of metallic miniskirt, bra and boots.
Hemlines were just above the knee in 1961, and gradually climbed upward over the next few years. By 1966, some designs had the hem at the upper thigh. Stockings with suspenders (garters) were not considered practical with miniskirts and were replaced with coloured tights. The popular acceptance of miniskirts peaked in the "Swinging London" of the 1960s, and has continued to be commonplace, particularly among younger women and teenage girls. Before that time, short skirts were only seen in sport and dance clothing, such as skirts worn by female tennis players, figure skaters, cheerleaders, and dancers.
Several designers have been credited with the invention of the 1960s miniskirt, most significantly the London-based designer Mary Quant and the Parisian André Courrèges.
In the Warring States period of China, men could wear short skirts similar to a kilt.: 166 In the Qin dynasty, the first imperial dynasty of China, some short skirts worn by men were short enough to reach the mid-thighs as observed in the Terracotta army of Qin Shihuang. Han Chinese women also wore short outer skirts, such as the yaoqun (Chinese: 腰裙) and the weichang (Chinese: 围裳); however, they had to be worn over a long skirt.: 49 One of the earliest known cultures where women regularly wore clothing resembling miniskirts was a subgroup of the Miao people of China, the duanqun Miao (Chinese: 短裙苗; pinyin: duǎnqún miáo; lit. 'short skirt Miao'). In albums produced during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912) from the early eighteenth century onward to illustrate the various types of Miao, the duanqun Miao women were depicted wearing "mini skirts that barely cover the buttocks." At least one of the "One Hundred Miao Pictures" albums contains a poem that specifically describes how the women's short skirts and navel-baring styles were an identifier for this particular group.
Figurines produced by the Vinča culture (c. 5700–4500 BC) have been interpreted by archaeologists as representing women in miniskirt-like garments. One of the oldest surviving garments resembling a miniskirt is the short woollen skirt with bronze ornaments worn by the Egtved Girl for her burial in the Nordic Bronze Age (c. 1390–1370 BCE).
The dancer Josephine Baker's banana skirt that she wore for her mid-1920s performances in the Folies Bergère was subsequently likened to a miniskirt. Prior to the 1960s during the 20th century, any woman who was not a stage performer or showgirl like Josephine Baker or, after the 1920s, any woman who was not an athlete or competitive dancer could not wear skirts above her knees as part of her everyday clothing and be socially accepted. During the 1950s, even the skirts of cheerleaders and many ballerinas fell to the calf. Women were taught to keep their knees covered, to seat themselves in ways that kept the legs together, etc., to avoid being thought sexually promiscuous.
Extremely short skirts became a staple of 20th-century science fiction, particularly in 1940s pulp artwork such as that by Earle K. Bergey who depicted futuristic women in a "stereotyped combination" of metallic miniskirt, bra and boots. The "sci-fi miniskirt" was seen in genre films and television programmes as well as on comic book covers. The very short skirts worn by regular female characters Carol and Tonga (played by Virginia Hewitt and Nina Bara) in the 1950–55 television series Space Patrol have been suggested as probably the first 'micro-minis' to have been seen on American television. It was later seen as remarkable that only one formal complaint relating to the skirts could be recalled, and that by an ad agency in relation to an upwards shot of Carol climbing a ladder. Hewitt pointed out that even though the complainant claimed they could see up her skirt, her matching tights rendered her effectively clothed from neck to ankle. Otherwise, Space Patrol was applauded for being wholesome and family-friendly, even though the women's short skirts would have been unacceptable in other contexts. Although the 30th-century women in Space Patrol were empowered, experts in their field, and largely treated as equals, "it was the skirts that fuelled indelible memories." The Space Patrol skirts were not the shortest to be broadcast at the time – the German-made American 1954 series Flash Gordon showed Dale Arden (played by Irene Champlin) in an even shorter skirt.
The manager of an unnamed shop in London's Oxford Street began experimenting in 1960 with skirt hemlines an inch above the knees of window mannequins, and noted how positively his customers responded. In August 1961, Life published a photograph of two Seattle students at the University of Hawaiʻi wearing above-the-knee garments called "kookie-muus" (an abbreviated version of the traditionally concealing muumuu), and noted a "current teen-age fad for short skirts" that was pushing hemlines well above the knee. The article also showed young fashionable girls in San Francisco wearing hemlines "just above the kneecap" and students at Vanderbilt University wearing "knee ticklers" ending three inches above their knee to play golf in, while the caption commented that such short skirts were selling well in the South, and that "some Atlanta girls" were cutting old skirts to "thigh high" lengths.
Extremely short skirts, some as much as eight inches above the knee, were observed in Britain in the summer of 1962. The young women who wore these short skirts were called "Ya-Ya girls", a term derived from "yeah, yeah" which was a popular catcall at the time. One retailer noted that the fashion for layered net crinoline petticoats raised the hems of short skirts even higher. The earliest known reference to the miniskirt is in a humorous 1962 article datelined Mexico City and describing the "mini-skirt" or "Ya-Ya" as a controversial item of clothing that was the latest thing on the production line there. The article characterised the miniskirt as stopping eight inches above the knee. It referred to a writing by a psychiatrist, whose name it did not provide, who had argued that the miniskirt was a youthful protest of international threats to peace. Much of the article described the reactions of men, who were said to favour the fashion on young women to whom they were unrelated, but to oppose it on their own wives and fiancées.
Only a very few of the avant-garde, almost entirely in the UK, wore such lengths in the beginning years of the decade, however. The standard hemline for public and designer garments in the early sixties was mid-knee, just covering the knee. It would gradually climb upward over the next few years, fully baring the knees of mainstream models in 1964, when both André Courrèges and Mary Quant showed above-the-knee lengths. The following year, skirts continued to rise as British miniskirts were officially introduced to the US in a New York show whose models' thigh-high skirts stopped traffic. By 1966, many designs had the hem at the upper thigh. Stockings with suspenders (American English: "garters") were not considered practical with miniskirts and were replaced with coloured tights. Legs could also be covered with knee-high socks or various heights of boots, lower-calf height in 1964–65, knee-heights throughout the period, over-the-knee and thigh-high boots more 1967–69, and even boot-hose, tights incorporating a shoe sole and heel to form a waist-high boot, often in stretch vinyl. Sandal straps might crisscross or otherwise rise up the leg, even as high as the thigh, and body paints were offered for a time to add colour to the leg in more individualised ways than wearing tights. Towards the end of the 1960s, an even shorter version, called the microskirt or micro-mini, emerged.
The shape of miniskirts in the 1960s was distinctive. They were not the squeezingly tight skirts designed to show off every curve that 1950s sheath skirts had been, nor were they shortened versions of the tightly belted, petticoat-bolstered 1950s circle skirt. In the 1990s and later, you would occasionally see exhibitions on the sixties present vintage miniskirts pulled in tight against gallery mannequins, but sixties miniskirts were not worn that way. They were not worn tight. Sixties miniskirts were simply-constructed, uninhibiting, slightly flared A-line shapes, with some straight and tapered forms seen in the early years of their existence. This shape was seen as deriving from two forms of the 1950s: (1) the chemise dress/sack dress, attributed to Givenchy in 1957 but presaged by Karl Lagerfeld in 1954 and Mary Quant in 1956, a waistless, tapered column that became the shift dress in the early sixties when it began to be made straight or slightly flared rather than tapered, and (2) the trapeze dresses popularized by Yves Saint Laurent in 1958 that were a variation of Dior's 1955 A-line, both of a geometric triangular shaping. In silhouette, the minidresses of the mid-1960s were basically abbreviated versions of the shift dress and trapeze dress, with Paco Rabanne's famous metal and plastic minidresses of 1966 and '67 following the trapeze line and most of Rudi Gernreich's following the shift line. Mary Quant and other British designers, as well as Betsey Johnson in the US, also showed minidresses that resembled elongated rugby jerseys, body-skimming but not tight. When skirts alone, they tended to sit on the hips rather than holding the waist, called hipster minis if they were really low on the hips. The fashionable forms of the microminis of the later 1960s were also not tight, often looking somewhat tunic-like and in fabrics like Qiana.
In addition, sixties miniskirts were not worn with high heels but with flats or low heels, for a natural stance, a natural stride, and to enhance the fashionable child-like look of the time, seen as a reaction to 1950s come-hither artifice like needle heels, constrained waists, padded busts, and movement-inhibiting skirts. The designer Mary Quant was quoted as saying that "short short skirts" indicated youthfulness, which was seen as desirable, fashion-wise.
In the UK, by shortening the skirts to less than 24 inches (610 mm) they were classed as children's garments rather than adult clothes. Children's clothing was not subject to purchase tax whereas adult clothing was. The avoidance of tax meant that the price was correspondingly less.
During the late 1960s, as most skirts got shorter and shorter, designers began presenting a few alternatives. Calf-length midi-skirts were introduced in 1966–67, and floor-length maxi-skirts appeared around the same time, after being seen on hippies first around 1965–66. Like with miniskirts, these were overwhelmingly casual in feel and simply constructed to a two-straight-side-seams A-line shape. Women in the late sixties welcomed these new styles as options but didn't necessarily wear them, feeling societal pressure to shorten their skirts instead.
(Decades later, starting in the late nineties, the term midi-skirt would be expanded to refer to any calf-length skirt from any era, including skirts of that length from the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s of any shape, and the term maxi-skirt would be expanded to apply to any floor-length skirt from any era, including ballgowns, but that was not the case during a period from the late 1960s to the 1980s, when the term midi-skirt only applied to casual, simply-cut A-line calf-length skirts of the late sixties and earliest seventies and the term maxi-skirt only applied to casual, simply-cut A-line floor-length skirts of the late sixties and earliest seventies. Even the full, calf-length skirts worn from the mid-seventies to the early eighties were not called midi-skirts at the time, as that was by 1974 considered a passė term restricted only to a specific shape of skirt from the late sixties and earliest seventies.)
As designers attempted to require women to switch to midi-skirts in 1969 and 1970, women responded by ignoring them, continuing to wear minis and microminis and, even more, turning to trousers like those endorsed by Yves Saint Laurent in 1968, a trend that would dominate the 1970s.
Several designers have been credited with the invention of the 1960s miniskirt, most significantly the London-based designer Mary Quant and the Parisian André Courrèges. Although Quant reportedly named the skirt after her favourite make of car, the Mini, there is no consensus as to who designed it first. Valerie Steele has noted that the claim that Quant was first is more convincingly supported by evidence than the equivalent Courrèges claim. However, the contemporary fashion journalist Marit Allen, who edited the influential "Young Ideas" pages for UK Vogue, firmly stated that the British designer John Bates was the first to offer fashionable miniskirts. Other designers, including Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent, had also been raising hemlines at the same time.
The miniskirt is one of the garments most widely associated with Mary Quant. Quant herself is ambivalent about the claim that she invented the miniskirt, stating that her customers should take credit, as she herself wore very short skirts, and they requested even shorter hemlines for themselves. Regardless of whether or not Quant invented the miniskirt, it is widely agreed that she was one of its highest-profile champions. Contrary to obvious and popular belief, Quant named the garment after the Mini Cooper, a favourite car of hers, stating that the car and the skirt were both "optimistic, exuberant, young, flirty", and complemented each other.
Quant had started experimenting with shorter skirts in the late 1950s, when she started making her own designs up to stock her boutique on the King's Road. Among her inspirations was the memory of seeing a young tap-dancer wearing a "tiny skirt over thick black tights", influencing her designs for young, active women who did not wish to resemble their mothers. In addition to the miniskirt, Quant is often credited with inventing the coloured and patterned tights that tended to accompany the garment, although their creation is also attributed to the Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga who offered harlequin-patterned tights in 1962 or to Bates.
In 2009, a Mary Quant minidress was among the 10 British "design classics" featured on a series of Royal Mail stamps, alongside the Tube map, the Spitfire, and the red telephone box.
Courrèges explicitly claimed that he invented the mini, and accused Quant of only "commercialising" it. He presented short skirts measuring four inches above the knee in January 1965 for that year's Spring/Summer collection, although some sources claim that Courrèges had been designing miniskirts as early as 1961, the year he launched his couture house. The collection, which also included trouser suits and cut-out backs and midriffs, was designed for a new type of athletic, active young woman. Courrèges had presented "above-the-knee" skirts in his August 1964 haute couture presentation which was proclaimed the "best show seen so far" for that season by The New York Times. The Courrèges look, featuring a knit bodystocking with a gabardine miniskirt slung around the hips, was widely copied and plagiarised, much to the designer's chagrin, and it would be 1967 before he again held a press showing for his work. Steele has described Courrèges's work as a "brilliant couture version of youth fashion" whose sophistication far outshone Quant's work, although she champions the Quant claim. Others, such as Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian explicitly credit him, rather than Quant, as the miniskirt's creator.
The idea that John Bates, rather than Quant or Courrèges, innovated the miniskirt had an influential champion in Marit Allen, who as editor of the influential "Young Ideas" pages for UK Vogue, kept track of up-and-coming young designers. In 1966 she chose Bates to design her mini-length wedding outfit in white gabardine and silver PVC. In January 1965 Bates's "skimp dress" with its "short-short skirt" was featured in Vogue, and would later be chosen as the Dress of the Year. Bates was also famous for having designed mini-coats and dresses and other outfits for Emma Peel (played by Diana Rigg) in the TV series The Avengers, although the manufacturers blocked his request for patterned tights to enable Emma Peel to fight in skirts if necessary.
An alternative origin story for the miniskirt came from Barbara Hulanicki of the London boutique Biba, who recalled that in 1966 she received a delivery of stretchy jersey skirts that had shrunk drastically in transit. Much to her surprise, the ten-inch long garments rapidly sold out.
In 1967 Rudi Gernreich was among the first American designers to offer miniskirts, in the face of strongly worded censure and criticism from American couturiers James Galanos and Norman Norell. Criticism of the miniskirt also came from the Paris couturier Coco Chanel, who declared the style "disgusting" despite being herself famed for supporting shorter skirts in the 1920s.
Owing to Quant's position in the heart of fashionable "Swinging London", the miniskirt was able to spread beyond a simple street fashion into a major international trend. The style came into prominence when Jean Shrimpton wore a short white shift dress, made by Colin Rolfe, on 30 October 1965 at Derby Day, first day of the annual Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia, where it caused a sensation. According to Shrimpton, who claimed that the brevity of the skirt was due mainly to Rolfe's having insufficient material, the ensuing controversy was as much as anything to do with her having dispensed with a hat and gloves, seen as essential accessories in such a conservative society.
Upper garments, such as rugby shirts, were sometimes adapted as mini-dresses. With the rise in hemlines, the wearing of tights or pantyhose, in place of stockings, became more common. At the same time, there was some opposition in the US to miniskirts as bad influences on the young, but this waned as people became more accustomed to them. Some European countries banned mini-skirts from being worn in public, claiming they were an invitation to rapists. In response, Quant retorted that there was clearly no understanding of the tights worn underneath.
The response to the miniskirt was particularly harsh in Africa, where many state governments saw them as an un-African garment and part of the corrupting influence of the West. Young city-dwelling African women who wore Western clothing such as the miniskirt were particularly at risk of attack based on their clothing, although Robert Ross notes that gender roles and politics were also a key factor. The urban woman earning her own living and independence was seen as a threat to masculine authority, particularly if she wore clothing seen as un-African. Short skirts were seen as indicating that their wearer was a prostitute, and by conflation, a witch who drained male-dominated society of its vitality and energy. In addition to prostitutes and witches, miniskirts also became associated with secretaries, schoolgirls and undergraduates, and young women with "sugar daddies" as lovers or boyfriends. Andrew M. Ivaska has noted that these various tropes boiled down to a basic fear of female power, fear that a woman would use her education or sexual power to control men and/or achieve her own independence, and that the miniskirt therefore became a tangible object of these fears.
In 1968 the Youth League of Tanzania's ruling TANU party launched Operation Vijana. Organised and run by young men, Vijana was a morality campaign targeting indecent clothing, which led to attacks on women with at least one stoning reportedly triggered by the victim's miniskirt. Gangs of youths patrolled bus stations and streets looking for women dressed "inappropriately", and dealing out physical attacks and beatings. In Ethiopia, an attack on women wearing miniskirts triggered a riot of leftist students in which a hundred cars were set on fire and fifty people injured.
Kamuzu Banda, president of Malawi, described miniskirts as a "diabolic fashion which must disappear from the country once and for all." It is also reported that Kenneth Kaunda, president of Zambia, cited apartheid and the miniskirt as his two primary hates. By the mid-1970s the Zanzibar revolutionary party had forbidden both women and men from wearing a long list of garments, hairstyles and cosmetics, including miniskirts.
From 1969 onwards, the fashion industry largely returned to longer skirts such as the midi and the maxi, with even Mary Quant showing no above-the-knee skirts for 1970. Journalist Christopher Booker gave two reasons for this reaction: firstly, that "there was almost nowhere else to go ... the mini-skirts could go no higher"; and secondly, in his view, "dressed up in mini-skirts and shiny PVC macs, given such impersonal names as 'dolly birds', girls had been transformed into throwaway plastic objects". This lengthening of hemlines coincided with the growth of the feminist movement. However, in the 1960s the mini had been regarded as a symbol of liberation, and it was worn by some, such as Germaine Greer and, in the following decade, Gloria Steinem. Greer herself wrote in 1969 that:
The women kept on dancing while their long skirts crept up, and their girdles dissolved, and their nipples burst through like hyacinth tips and their clothes withered away to the mere wisps and ghosts of draperies to adorn and glorify ...
In the earliest seventies, 1970 particularly, minis and microminis briefly rebounded in popularity after women's rejection of designers' attempt to impose midiskirts as the sole length in 1970, referred to as "the midi debacle" and more a phenomenon in the US than elsewhere. Women both continued to wear miniskirts and switched even more to trousers, and designers, having been made to understand that they would no longer be respected as arbiters, followed suit for a couple of years and included minis again, often underneath midis and maxis. Prominent designers Rudi Gernreich and André Courrèges never went for midis and continued to show the clothes for which they were known. In 1971, almost all designers, even upper-echelon couture designers, showed hot pants across the board, also presented in combination with midiskirts, maxiskirts, and minis. They continued to express a desire for women to wear longer skirts, though, and soon those women who hadn't switched entirely to jeans and trousers were often wearing their skirts at the knee. In 1973, Kenzo made calf-length skirts look new by cutting them fuller and in lighter fabrics for a style that was very different from the midi and women soon accepted this, making it one of the characteristic styles of the mid-seventies, one that would last into the early eighties, sometimes dropping to the ankle.
Although miniskirts had mostly disappeared from mainstream fashion by the mid-70s, prompting the leading designer of the time, Yves Saint Laurent, to say, "I don't think short skirts will ever come back," they never entirely went away, with women having to be pressured by the fashion industry to abandon above-the-knee skirts as late as 1974 and even some mainstream designers like Halston, Kenzo, and Karl Lagerfeld offering a few mini-tunics and mini-blousons among the standard calf-length dirndl skirts of the mid-seventies Big Look period. In these occasional high-fashion versions of the mid-seventies, mini was taken to mean any length above the knee. These were never broadly taken up by the general public, which was still gravitating toward below-the-knee dirndls, but were occasionally seen on the fashion-forward.
Around 1976, punks began including among their array of clothes intended to shock very short miniskirts in materials like black leather, rubber, PVC, tartan, and even trash bag plastic, the unfashionable length shocking almost as much as the aggressive materials. Punks of this period also introduced the wearing of miniskirts with then-very-out-of-style high-heeled, late-1950s pumps, which they got at thrift shops, a combination not worn in the 1960s and unthinkable during the 1950s. Though not at all mainstream, these punk looks would influence bands that came after them into wearing more sixties-looking miniskirts again, as evidenced by Deborah Harry of the group Blondie, Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson of the group The B-52's, Fay Fife of The Revillos, Rhoda Dakar of The Bodysnatchers, Siouxsie Sioux of the group Siouxsie And The Banshees, and the group The Slits, who often wore miniskirts during the "new wave" era of the late 70s. Some of these performers were part of a few sixties-revival subcultures that came in the wake of punk and included Mod revival and ska revival, both of whose female adherents sought out authentic-looking early miniskirts as part of their sixties-revival look. Blondie's Deborah Harry had her sixties-ish look provided by fashion designer Stephen Sprouse, who had been responsible for Halston's "skimp" minis of 1974 and would become internationally known for his own sixties-revival line during the eighties. The song "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea" (1978), by new wave artist Elvis Costello, contains the line in the chorus: "There's no place here for the mini-skirt waddle."
During the seventies, when males and females typically wore identical denim cutoff shorts instead of miniskirts if they wanted short lengths, the female cast members of the US TV show Hee Haw, known as the "Hee Haw Honeys", always wore country-style minidresses even during the miniskirt's fashion hiatus in the late 70s and early 80s; and as mentioned above, female tennis players, figure skaters, cheerleaders, and dancers also wore short skirts.
Toward the end of the seventies, in 1978 and '79, some of the above-the-knee skirt looks that would become associated with the eighties began to be introduced, including the flounced, hip-yoked style debuted by Norma Kamali and Perry Ellis in 1979 and called rah-rah skirts in the UK and the tight, above-the-knee sheath skirt, with even Yves Saint Laurent showing some above-the-knee lengths. The sixties-revival subcultures emanating from the UK seemed to reach the high fashion world somewhat in 1979, as a few Paris catwalks presented styles for spring 1980 seemingly pulled right out of the sixties, including miniskirts inspired by Courrèges, Rabanne, and Gernreich. At this point, these styles were still considered avant-garde, though, and a variety of mostly longer skirts were worn by the public, with the full, calf-length forms that had dominated the mid-seventies still prevalent but beginning to be made slimmer, slightly shorter, more brightly coloured, and often slit. The mainstream return of the miniskirt wouldn't come until the 1980s.
Miniskirts returned to mainstream acceptance in the 1980s, but with some differences from the 1960s:
Because women had worn skirts that covered the knee and often dropped to the calf for so many years during the 1970s, any skirt above the knee was often called a miniskirt in the late seventies and early eighties, even skirts that hit just above the knee.
They weren't presented this time as the only length women should wear. They were now just one option among a variety of lengths and styles of skirts and pants available to women, and miniskirts tended to be in the minority among all the other kinds of skirts and pants seen on the streets, particularly in the early part of the decade. Throughout the decade, street lengths ranged from ankle to thigh, for both skirts and trousers, and most women wore their skirts just below the knee, as they also had in the seventies.
Miniskirts came in a greater variety of shapes than in the sixties, from full and flouncy to narrow to tight to abbreviated revivals of skirt shapes of the 1940s and '50s like sheath skirts, trumpet skirts, tulip skirts, and bubble/puffball skirts. Above-the-knee versions of strapless 1950s dresses were seen, as were formal minis with bustles and trains in the back. Even tutus were shown mid-decade. Many above-the-knee dresses had noticeable shoulder pads.
They were worn with a greater range of heel heights than in the sixties, depending on the shape of the miniskirt, with flats preferred for some styles and high-heeled pumps preferred for others. In the early part of the decade, opaque tights, sometimes brightly coloured, and flat, calf-high boots might be worn with the more casual styles, much like in the mid-sixties. Throughout the period, dressier styles with high heels tended to be worn with hose ranging from slightly tinted to opaque. A punk influence was sometimes seen when miniskirts were paired with combat boots or Doc Martens.
In the early eighties, miniskirts were still considered avant-garde and unusual among the public, though designers had begun showing them again in 1979 and had begun shortening some skirts to just above the knee in 1978. Some minis from 1979 and '80 were modeled after sweatshirts. Others were lifted straight out of the Space Age mid-sixties. Some were inspired by punk.
The most influential designer of miniskirts in the early eighties was probably Norma Kamali. In 1980, she introduced sweatshirt-fabric versions of the flounced, hip-yoked, above-the-knee skirts she had first presented in 1979, called rah-rah skirts in the UK. In 1981 and '82, miniskirts from this "Sweats" line would reach mainstream levels of popularity and make Kamali a household name.
In the spring of 1982 (as featured in the June issue of Time Magazine that year), short skirts began to re-emerge more strongly among the public, notably in the form of "rah-rahs", which were modeled on those worn by female cheerleaders at sporting and other events.
By 1983, miniskirts had become more widespread, with both Kamali-style full versions and slim, straight versions in jean-cut blue denim commonly worn, as well as other styles.
Kenzo had been almost the only designer to champion miniskirts during their nadir in the mid-seventies, and he was vindicated in the eighties as several of the miniskirt styles he had shown back then were taken up by other designers.
Yves Saint Laurent had believed short skirts would never return in the mid-seventies, but he led the move to above-the-knee skirts starting in 1978 and during the first half of the eighties was known for his slim, black leather miniskirts.
Karl Lagerfeld had begun showing miniskirts at the end of the seventies and in 1983 would take over the house of Chanel, where he soon began adding minis and microminis to the offerings, a surprise because Chanel herself had hated 1960s miniskirts, considering the knees to be an ugly part of the body.
Sixties-revivalist Stephen Sprouse showed his first collection in 1983 and favored almost period-perfect shift minidresses and trapeze minidresses in graffiti prints, blacks, and searing sixties brights, including fluorescents, with geometric paillettes and sixties-style cutouts, sometimes of peace signs. Unlike in the sixties, though, he showed these clothes with eighties shoe shapes like high-heeled pumps and Doc Martens.
A style that would be seen off and on throughout the decade but would become almost ubiquitous in the second half of the eighties was the tight, stretch minidress worn with high-heeled eighties pumps and often padded shoulders. In silhouette, this was sort of an abbreviated, less heavily constructed version of 1950s sheath skirts, which brings up another difference between 1960s minis and some of these forms of tight, blatantly seductive 1980s minis: they were shown on bodies that were voluptuous and/or muscular instead of thin and child-like as in the sixties.
Throughout the 1980s, beginning at the end of the seventies, designers experimented with shortening heavily constructed historical dress styles, mostly from the 1950s, with fifties crinoline skirts, fifties sheath skirts, and fifties bubble/puffball skirts shown in above-the-knee lengths as early as 1979. Styles from the deeper past were also shortened. For 1981, Perry Ellis added stuffed-organdy padding to the hips of the flouncy, hip-yoked miniskirts he'd been showing for a couple years and referred to them as farthingales, a sixteenth-century term for a similarly padded floor-length skirt. A far more influential example of a truncated historical skirt style came from former punk designer Vivienne Westwood. In 1985, British designer Westwood offered her first "mini-crini," an abbreviated version of the Victorian crinoline. Its mini-length, bouffant silhouette inspired the puffball skirts widely presented by more established designers such as Christian Lacroix. In 1989, Westwood's mini-crini was described as having combined two conflicting ideals – the crinoline, representing a "mythology of restriction and encumbrance in woman's dress", and the "equally dubious mythology of liberation" associated with the miniskirt.
In the mid-1980s, Azzedine Alaïa began presenting mini and micromini versions of his extremely tight dress designs, his anatomical seaming and occasional sheer fabrics creating a prurient effect that would never have been seen in sixties miniskirts. His miniskirts, though, also included some that resembled flippy skating skirts and others that were grass-like raffia so short they barely covered the wearer. His earlier fitted, curve-accenting skirts, usually in a just-above-the-knee length that sometimes rose to the lower thigh, would be very influential in the second half of the decade, spawning imitations by companies like North Beach Leather and Body Glove.
During the mid- to late eighties, Patrick Kelly put his own whimsical signature on the familiar, high-heel-accompanied, tight, stretch minidresses of the decade, covering them with bright buttons, bright bowties, cartoon faces, etc.
For fall of 1987 and spring of '88, designers united in presenting a great proportion of miniskirts in almost all collections, with very few mainstream designers bucking the trend. Though a few designers showed these minis in somewhat sixties shapes with flat shoes or boots, most showed truncated versions of the eighties suits and cocktail dresses. They were themselves revivals of 1940s and '50s styles, with slightly narrower shoulders and worn with high-heeled over-the-knee boots or high-heeled eighties pumps that looked like ones from the late fifties/early sixties. Dark hose were recommended for them. Many of the new minis were stretch-fit tight, and some were very short, with Ungaro's so brief they were likened to 1950s bathing suits. The fashion industry's miniskirt campaign was so intense that newspaper articles appeared on women considering plastic surgery on their knees to suit the new lengths.
However, though there was a rush on miniskirts for a time, the unanimity around mini lengths didn't last long, as women continued to consider minis just one option among the many available during the decade and didn't replace their entire wardrobes with them as they had in the sixties. This 1987-88 miniskirt push, though, would help cement the mini's status as a basic item in the average woman's wardrobe for many years to come.
From the 1980s, many women began to incorporate the miniskirt into their business attire, a trend which grew during the remainder of the century. The titular character of the 1990s television program Ally McBeal, a lawyer portrayed by Calista Flockhart, has been credited with popularising micro-skirts.
The very short skirt is an element of Japanese school uniform, which since the 1990s has been exploited by young women who are part of the kogal (or gyaru) subculture as part of their look.
In the early 2000s, micro-minis were once again revived. In 2003, Tom Ford, at that time described as one of the few designers able to effortlessly dictate changes in fashion, stated that micro-skirts would be the height of fashion for Spring/Summer 2003. For fashionable wear, early 21st century microskirts were often worn with leggings or tights in order to avoid revealing too much. At this time, an even briefer version of the micro-mini emerged, creating a garment sometimes described as a "belt-skirt".
A BBC article in 2014 wrote that miniskirts remained as contemporary a garment as ever, retaining their associations with youth. In an early 2010s study the department store Debenhams found that women continued buying miniskirts up to the age of 40, whilst 1983 studies showed that 33 years old was when the average woman had stopped buying them. Debenham's report concluded that by the 2020s, miniskirts would be seen as a wardrobe staple for British women in their 40s and early 50s.
Despite this, in the early 21st century, miniskirts are still seen as controversial, and remain subject to bans and regulation. Valerie Steele told the BBC in 2014 that even though miniskirts no longer had the power to shock in most Western cultures, she would hesitate to wear one in most parts of the world. She described the garment as symbolic of looking forward to future freedom and backwards to a "much more restricted past" and noted that international rises in extreme conservatism and religious fundamentalism had led to an anti-women backlash, some of which was shown through censure and criticism of women wearing "immodest" clothing. In 2010, the mayor of Castellammare di Stabia in Italy ordered that police fine women for wearing "very short" miniskirts. In the 2000s, a ban on miniskirts at a teacher's college in Kemerovo was claimed by lawyers to be against the terms of equality and human rights as laid out by the Russian constitution, whilst in Chile, the women's minister, Carolina Schmidt, described a regional governor's ban on public employees wearing minis and strapless tops as "absolute nonsense" and challenged their right to regulate other people's clothing. In July 2010, Southampton city council also tried to regulate their female employees's wardrobes, telling them to avoid miniskirts and dress "appropriately."
Miniskirts regularly appear in Africa as part of controversies, something that has continued since the 1960s. In the early 21st century alone, instances have included a proposed ban on miniskirts in Uganda justified by claiming that they were a dangerous distraction to drivers and would cause road accidents, and in 2004, a leaflet campaign in Mombasa instructed women to dress modestly and "shun miniskirts", leading to the Kenyan government denying that they wanted a ban. Since the 1990s, women perceived to be "indecently dressed" might be stripped in public often by gangs of men, but sometimes by other women. These acts took place in Kenya, Zambia and elsewhere, including incidents in Johannesburg in 2008 and 2011 which led to similar attacks in various states including Sudan, Malawi, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. The President of Malawi, Bingu wa Mutharika, was forced to make a statement in 2012 after male gangs forcibly stripped women in Lilongwe and Mzuzu. By this point, "miniskirt protests" regularly followed these acts of violence, with the protesters defiantly wearing miniskirts. In late February 2010, a group of about 200 Ugandan women demonstrated against a so-called "miniskirt law", an anti-pornography legislation which specifically forbade women to dress "in a manner designed to sexually excite", or from wearing clothing that revealed their thighs and/or other body parts. Uganda revisited their proposed ban in 2013, with Simon Lokodo, Minister of Ethics and Integrity, proposing another anti-pornography bill which would outlaw revealing "intimate parts", defined as "anything above the knee", and vowing that women who wore miniskirts would be arrested. While most of these proposed bans come from male politicians, in 2009 Joice Mujuru, Zimbabwe's vice president, had to deal with rumours that she intended to ban miniskirts and trousers for women. In Africa, one of the main issues with the miniskirt since the 1960s is that it is seen as representative of protest against predominantly male authority, an accusation also applied to trousers for women which are perceived as blurring the gender divide.
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Any woman whose hem did not cover the knee was assumed, probably correctly, to be a prostitute.
...[T]he mini skirt...was born on the streets among art students and Mods.
...[T]he mini...had been creeping up art students' legs since 1959.
Styles were set by the young Mrs. Kennedy—the pillboxes, the shoes with very pointed toes and very slender heels, the hair length just below the ears and softly curled or bouffant. Skirts were a little below the knee...
Courrèges...skirts are the shortest in Paris – above the knee...From now on sixties fashion will revolve round bare knees...
In 1964,...Mary Quant created the miniskirt in London.
The mini and the Beatles made their impact on America simultaneously in 1964 and were inextricably linked....[I]t seemed that...American youth had embraced London as the world's fashion capital and Quant as its best-known designer.
...[T]he mini skirt...officially arrived in New York in 1965 with a British fashion show...The models in their thigh-high dresses stopped traffic on Broadway and in Times Square, and were seen on television all across the U.S.A.
1966:...a year in which...you wear skirts that show the whole length of your legs...
Skirts rise to mid-thigh, girls change over from stockings to tights and the London look becomes international.
During the mid-sixties...the shoe had a new ally – the kneesock.
...[A boot that] hovered in the region between ankle and midcalf...was probably the most common fashion boot of the years 1963 to 1965.
Cuissardes [thigh-high boots] hung around for much of the sixties. They really took off at the end of the decade...
Ungaro['s]...yolk yellow canvas [mini-]coat, blue pleat [mini-]dress, and thigh-high vinyl boots.
...silver shoes laced up the leg...
In its original incarnation, the mini was different in cut, often narrow and structured with stiff seams a la André Courrèges.
...[T]he waistless chemise sounded the knell of the old order and brought fashion into the modern era.
Along with Balenciaga, [Givenchy] introduced the chemise in the summer of 1957.
Christian Dior's last collection...[was] a refinement of Givenchy's 'sack' called the 'spindle' or 'chemmy dress'
In 1954 the young Karl Lagerfeld's entry in a competition organized by the Wool Secretariat was the epitome of the youthful chemise. The style that was to be abbreviated in the sixties had arrived.
When the shift shape was shown in Paris salons in 1957, the fashion world began to take [Mary Quant's] Bazaar seriously, for the new line had appeared there eighteen months earlier.
...[T]he sack dress evolved in the 1960s into a modified form, the shift...
...[T]he chemise first burst upon the scene in 1957, nurtured by Givenchy and Balenciaga...[I]t made...waves...because dresses lost their belts....[I]t took a couple of years before the chemise became every woman's uniform. Hemlines had to rise...They were mid‐calf at the beginning. Rise they did, through most of the nineteen‐sixties....[A]bout half way through, it changed its name. It was called the shift.
The fashionable dress was...the childlike shift, occasionally cut out at the sides or back...
The dress sloped down from the shoulders to a widened hem just below the knee, maintaining a definite geometric line through precise tailoring.
...[W]ith his first collection,...[Saint Laurent] launched the [T]rapeze line – not too different from Dior's A line, but just different enough.
Dior produces his new A line, a triangle widened from a small head and shoulders to a full pleated or stiffened hem.
Dior's...'A' line consisted of coats, suits and dresses flared out into wide triangles from narrow shoulders. The waistline was the cross bar of the A and could be positioned either under the bust in an Empire manner or low down on the hips.
I...begged [Emanuel Ungaro] to decode the enigma of space-age chic...'Courrèges et moi...work[ed] for Balenciaga....Balenciaga was obsessed with cut and structure and architecture....[W]e chop 20 centimeters off the skirt, and, voila, le space age'.
Everywhere, from the couture to the ready-to-wear, the favourite dress is the briefest triangle, taking no account of the waist.
...[T]he mini dominated the spring collections in all the fashion centres. The silhouette fell from the neck or shoulders to a free-swinging hem...
...[A] young woman of today bears the closest possible resemblance to a young man of the medieval period...i.e. the doublet-and-hose of (say) 1490.
Short white 'go-go' boots or natural-colored leg hose and low-heeled shoes were the thing to wear with minis.
Every fashion-conscious girl was wearing the mini, flat pumps and the Vidal Sassoon haircut and pale lipstick.
Casual skirts adopted the...knee-baring hem, and were worn with...white textured stockings and [flat,] silver-buckled pilgrim shoes.
For the most part, all these boots were flat-heeled...
The fashion was to look as child-like as possible – coltish, long legs, flat torso and attention focused on a big baby-eyed head.
Courrèges's 'Space Age' collection of 1964 combined...Parisian traditions...with London's daring young styles. Using ice pinks and blues against stark white, his garments were cut into simple shapes outlined in welted seams...childlike in their short, shift-shape simplicity and worn with...flat toddler sandals.
One effect of the sixties fashion 'youthquake' was a desire on the part of designers to make grown women look like little girls.
Before long, grown women were...attempting knock-kneed childish postures, their toes turned in, in little flat shoes.
The micro skirt shrinks even more...
Skirts are mini, knee-length, midi or maxi, 'Everything goes so long as it works for you'.
The hemline was irrelevant; the length of a woman's skirt now depended on personal taste. The international collections endorsed variety, showing minis, midis, maxis and trousers.
...[T]he midi had definitely arrived...The hemline was only sixteen inches from the ground...The intention...was to train the...eye down from the mini to the midi by showing one over the other.
By the autumn the maxi coat had arrived in London...
...[In] the late 1960s,...minis were de rigueur and lots of grown women as well as kids followed the fashion and shortened their hems several inches above the knee.
Women who not long ago gnashed their teeth over the miniskirt, wondering if they dared to imitate their daughters and wear it, finally decided only a relatively few months ago that they would risk it. The result was the moderate‐mini, the one to two‐inch rise above the knee, which is pretty much what is being worn on Main Street America today.
Today, the term 'midi' is applied to knee-length skirts as often as tea-length skirts, and pencil skirts as well as flowing A-lines. But it originally denoted a specific, unforgiving shape: not mid-leg, but mid-calf, widening from the waist to four inches below the knee.
Although the latest  look—known as the Big Look...—is decidedly longer than recent hemlines, both its proponents and its adversaries say that any resemblance to the midi is purely coincidental. 'You can't compare it to the midi, which was just a longer skirt,' maintains Norman Wechsler, president of Saks Fifth Avenue.
What makes [1974 long skirts] different from the long skirts of 1970? They're wider and consequently, more graceful and easier to wear.
The sudden drop in hemlines in 1970 caused a revolt in this country against fashion dictatorship....In the collections for fall 1970, hemlines descended abruptly, by as much as 18 inches, from mid-thigh to the lower calf....The protests were immediate. Women declared that they would no longer be dictated to by fashion designers. They refused to buy long skirts. Stores suffered and many manufacturers went out of business.
American women had not accepted the midi or maxi hemlines, preferring the leggy mini...
Fashionable women everywhere turned to pants....Trousers continued as part of the fashion uniform...
The miniskirt? 'Dégoütant' [disgusting], snapped Coco Chanel....And so Chanel stayed Chanel, with neatly fitted suits just covering the kneecap.
In March, 1966, a Sindlinger survey found that 44.9 percent of the persons interviewed considered the miniskirt 'bad for the morals of the younger generation.' The latest survey  finds that only 35.4 percent hold that view.
In the summer Vogue announces, 'The long skirt is here – and the first Vogue with not a short skirt in sight'.
Mary Quant...showed a collection of midis and maxis — and not a single mini...
...[V]irtually anybody can see...a vast number of bare knees...on any street.
...the disaster that befell the new fashion known as the midi.
...[A]nti‐midi groups...have proliferated since the midiskirt emerged last spring as a serious threat to women who like their skirts short — or at least want a choice of lengths when they walk into a store to buy a dress.
...Mrs. Eddy of Saks Fifth Avenue and Mrs. Jane Stark, vice-president of Lord & Taylor, report that, in their suburban stores, women who were leery about pants for everyday wear are now overcoming their inhibitions....'We're selling an awful lot of pants,' says Liz Claiborne...
...[S]uddenly there were knickers, gauchos, and pants, pants, pants.
'When we were told to give up our miniskirts for midis,' [Gloria Steinem] says, 'there was a semi‐conscious boycott on the part of American women. We were fed up with being manipulated. We now wanted to make our own decisions on hundreds of things, not have them handed down from on high'.
[Bill] Blass...says that 'we learned last year the best we can do is make suggestions'.
Hubert de Givenchy...presents a bevy of micromini dresses ...
Valentino was first with the layered look (either a shorter skirt worn underneath a midi coat, or the skirt itself divided into tiers of different lengths)...[Jacques] Tiffeau has wrapped a deeply slashed camel-colored midi over a maroon mini skirt...Bill Blass settles for the double hemline for daywear...
...Givenchy's micromini dresses...show a lot of leg, though they are concealed by such things as a purple leather coat to the floor.
...[L]ong coats or skirts that open up in front to show shorter ones underneath...let you move a little better.
Valentino really likes the look of midi skirts slashed open in front to show a much shorter skirt underneath it. The same effect is seen when he does wrap skirts with deep slits at the side.
...Rudi Gernreich...shock[s] you into the present....Sometimes they wore shorts, sometimes long pants. One had on a short skirt — a mini, if you will — and a tunic. Later the designer showed a minidress, with epaulets....Forget the hemline furor. Rudi put it in its place. Much ado about nothing....There were patches of color — in a bright yellow minidress...[T]here's not a midi length in it.
...Givenchy shows hot pants.
Givenchy tucks shorts under his skinny daytime suits and dresses and sometimes sends the shorts out alone unabashed.
The red coat covered navy shorts, the navy coat red ones....Valentino made the idea of shorts‐under‐skirts look new...
During the winter of 1970, women wore shorts — 'hot pants,' protesting a hemline drop from mid‐thigh to midcalf.
Some of the shorts...go under dresses—and some are accompanied by long coats.
After the mini-midi debacle of last year, hemlines will generally hover cautiously around the knee.
Bergdorf's customers demanded and got skirts covering their knees. They didn't want them down around their calves.
Kenzo anticipated a major change this winter by creating a full, circular skirt, easily caught by the wind...The replacement of the short, kicky skirt by the longer, fuller style was the most important change in the silhouette...[T]he hemline was anywhere from 3 inches below the knee to the ankle.
Free as we seem to be,...[t]here are plenty of clothes we would not wear. The fashion of the too-recent past, for instance – which seems in the mid-seventies to begin in the mid-sixties...
Courrèges was the only designer to show short ones and they seemed like period pieces.
...[S]kirt hemlines quietly began their descent until mid-calf length became commonplace in the 1970's...
Gayle Kirkpatrick offers a choice of hemlines:...below the knee or midcalf....[T]he shorter skirts look safe, the long ones more fashionable.
...[Saint Laurent] added, 'I don't think short skirts will ever come back'.
...[T]he miniskirt is...still prevalent...today too, according to store executives from all over the country...'I'm having a hard time getting my secretary out of short dresses as it is,' said the fashion director of a large store in the Southwest.
It is supposed to be so out of style, so passé. Everybody who is anybody supposedly wears her skirts below the knees and longer...Take a walk any day...between 44th and 57th Streets. You will see so many miniskirts that you will wonder if all those 'savvy' fashion experts have been holed up in some cave in Samoa....The majority of women are in pants, of course. But most of the skirts on the younger women are minis — not those extreme microminis that barely covered the panty line circa 1969 but the old familiar minis about four or five inches above the knees.
Halston was...promulgating a knee‐baring fashion he called 'the skimp.'...[I]t bears an ineluctable resemblance to the miniskirt of yore....The endorsement of kneebaring skirts by a designer of Halston's stature could only confuse customers who were gradually being convinced they should hide their knees, most retailers agreed.
[Halston's] mannequins almost always wore heavy knitted tights with short tunic tops....Back in 1974 when Halston had another go at reviving short skirts, he called them 'the skimp' and likened them to Florentine tunics.
The hottest news from the Paris spring prêt‐à‐porter collections is the mini. And the man who put it back in the spotlight is Kenzo....There were short skirts with balloon tops, caught under a low belt; some skirts then swirled out, but others, neat and tapered, were just little wraparounds.
...Kenzo showed virtually everything short....[A] number of the dresses were hiked up and bloused over a hip belt to [become] micro. Some of them were really below the knees....[S]hapes are usually very big and loose, gathered at the shoulders....[T]he micro‐minis...are in Polynesian prints...
Lagerfeld...made the question of skirt length irrelevant. He showed them all, from very short to very long....What is very apparent about the dresses is their fullness....They're smocklike affairs...If they're short, you can see the boot tops. The boots come up over the knee...
The short skirt story is gaining momentum in fashion here. It began a year ago on the runways of such designers of ready‐to‐wear clothes as Kenzo and lesser lights, including Ter & Bantine. Bulky sweaters that cupped the buttocks and brief, knitted dresses were shown over knitted tights...
The word 'miniskirt' is never invoked. 'Tunic' is actually more appropriate for the new short styles, many of which can be worn over pants or skirts as well as tights.
[The mini']s most dramatic form is the voluminous smock that Kenzo devised, always belted at the hips. But other designers showed shirts as dresses...
...[S]ome will top their leg covers with mini tunics or big bubble sweaters, and that's all.
Most designers were careful to present clothes in at least three different lengths: above the knee, or mini; calf length, or standard, and somewhere around the lower part of the calf or the top of the ankles...
Two years ago  Paris designers made a concerted effort to bring back knee‐baring clothes and it went practically unnoticed.
The heyday of punk was 1976-8.
In London the black plastic mini has been part of the punk uniform...for the past four years [1977-1981].
They wear...ripped garbage can liners, fishnet hose and stiletto heels.
Punks...walked down the King's Road in mini tartan kilts,...torn PVC, leather and dustbin-liners....They wore plastic, rubber or leather clothes.
Sprouse...transformed Harry..., creating clothes from ripped tights, T-shirts, and objects he picked up off the streets....In 1978, he photo-printed a picture he'd taken of TV scan lines onto a piece of fabric, which he then designed as a dress for Debbie Harry. She wore it in the video for her No. 1 hit 'Heart of Glass'...
...Stephen Sprouse was working for Halston in the early seventies...Sprouse loved Carnaby Street and miniskirts. He wanted to see women's legs again, and pestered Halston constantly about it....[I]n 1974, Halston let Sprouse have his way....[T]hey created what became known as the Skimp.
It may be that there is a latent desire for miniskirts and padded shoulders....The way most store people see [miniskirts]...is under a tie‐on longer skirt that can be removed for dancing.
In the past week of showings of ready-to-wear for next spring, [fashion buyers] had seen lots of short, short skirts....Karl Lagerfeld, who designs for Chloe, showed the shortest miniskirts....[H]is minis with padded shoulders...are a breed apart....His minis...were served up in three categories: a single layer that barely covered the fanny, and double-tiered and triple-tiered skirts that still stopped above the knee.
Along with Claude Montana, [Thierry Mugler] is the favorite of the avant‐garde. Both were leaders of the outer‐space brigade and the return to the 1960's miniskirted look. They were not alone....Lagerfeld favored an abbreviated skirt that was little more than a ruffle around the hips, and a brief one at that.
Norma Kamali...and Perry Ellis introduced the short rah-rah skirt, worn with short-sleeved jumpers, knee-high socks and pedal pushers.
Kenzo, Chloé and others now showed pretty, floral printed-cotton versions of the rah-rah introduced by Kamali and Ellis in 1979.
...[T]his time the chief proponent [of knee-baring skirts] — an occasional version is offered by other houses — is Yves Saint Laurent.
...[A] short red two‐tiered minidress ...[and a] few other above-the-knee chemiselike styles appeared,...slip-like affairs...
Op art returned to London's streets, coinciding with a musical revival led by [ska revival bands] The Specials and Madness...
Some Paris designers have taken...a backward glance at the 1960s. What they have come up with for the opening ready-to-wear showings of 1980's hot-weather fashions are skinny miniskirts and other styles spun off from the 1960s fashions of Courreges, Rudi Grenreich and Paco Rabanne....France Andrevie...must have researched the short-cropped, tube-shaped dresses of Rudi Gernreich, the minis of Courreges and the vinyl and metallic hinged designs of Paco Rabanne...
Only one dress was greeted with dead silence: a printed satin, shirred up the center, that bared the knees. It was the length that was distracting. The audience didn't know what to make of it.
Miniskirts on the runway are fashion's way of making a little noise. The idea, as one Seventh Avenue observer put it, is that 'women will be so horrified that they will accept knee‐length skirts, which they have been resisting.' Already some women are weakening....'A few inches shorter,' they say, cautiously, 'but below the knee'.
Knees are covered by skirts that frequently stop an inch or so below. Not exactly minis, but a bit shorter than last season.
The new proportion demands a hemline cut off an inch, sometimes two, below the knee. Some designers are showing them longer, but it is now obvious that the shorter skirt is the coming thing....'By next fall ,' predicts [Bloomingdale's Kal] Ruttenstein, the mid-calf skirt will not look fashionable.
...[E]veryone will want to own...bright colors...because they haven't worn [them] in a long while.
The ingredients are a slim skirt with slits front, back or sideways, cut off somewhere just below the knee...slim, slit skirts that are short - but still below the knee...
Having the miniskirt as an option is one of the big contrasts with the late 1960s, when minis were de rigueur and lots of grown women as well as kids followed the fashion and shortened their hems several inches above the knee.
In the `60s, women kept shortening their skirts inch by inch so they could stay 'in fashion.' Each season, skirts had to be a certain number of inches above the knees...
...[O]bserves Bernie Ozer, of Associated Merchandising Corp. '...There is no suggestion that everyone has to wear one'.
Things were different in [the 1960s]. There seemed to be just one road for fashion – onward. Today,...things have changed. Short and long skirts coexist, just as skirts and trousers do.
And it is an optional item to suit one's mood, to be worn alternately with pants, which can be any length or shape, or a long folkloric skirt....[U]nlike before, the mini is only part of the high fashion wardrobe...[O]bserves Bernie Ozer, of Associated Merchandising Corp. 'It is strictly an alternative'...
Perry Ellis...has shown both very long and very short skirts...'[L]ength is not an issue. Both the long and the short really look beautiful'.
Sasha Cutter, 13,...was wearing a Kamali Rah-Rah skirt in sweat-shirt fabric with a Polo sweater over her leotard. She's just as happy in a long Lauren prairie skirt, she said, or jeans.
Despite the variety of hemlines offered in all the fashion capitals for daywear, the knee-length version prevailed.
Many well-dressed French women are appearing in...a pencil-slim skirt that just covers the knee.
...Marc Bohan...has included above-the-knee party dresses in his collections for Christian Dior for several seasons.
...[T]hese `87 minis are a new breed. They are stretchy and supple and sexy. Or, they are bubbly, flared, pouffed, belled. They are, in a word, varied.
...Oscar de la Renta's thigh-high bubble dresses.
Valentino...showed dresses that were mini length in front and swept back to form bustle trains.
...[L]egs...were flaunted under puff-ball and tutu hemlines...
...[A]bove‐the‐knee hemlines and extravagantly padded shoulders...marked the proceedings.
Karl Lagerfeld's...minis with padded shoulders...are a breed apart.
Saint Laurent...bares the knees and pads his shoulders...
If short becomes the fashion, one of the first to know it and put it into production will be Dallas designer Victor Costa...[H]is all-time best-seller is an interpretation of a dress that he himself designed in the 60s. 'He gave it a little more shoulder, stuffed some petticoats beneath and – voila, it's today,' says [Costa colleague Bob] Miller.
Influential designers in Paris, Milan and New York have included decidedly shortened hemlines in their spring collections....anywhere from one to...three inches above the knee...[I]n Valentino's case,...[a]ll are worn with high heel[s]...
Farah Naim, 18,...was wearing a black leather zip-front miniskirt (from Commander Salamander), dark hose and salmon-pink satin bridesmaid's pumps from a thrift shop.
High heels drew attention to legs...under puff-ball and tutu hemlines...
The mini revival...stirred more than a year ago [early 1980] when...big, sweatery mini-dresses were picked up by kids who wore them with thick, colorful pantyhose.
Vickie Fitzgerald, 18, occasionally wears a mini...For now, she wears tights, but expects that once she has a tan she'll go barelegged.
The 1981 mini...is being worn...with tights and flats or flat boots...[T]he miniskirt worn with romantic blouses with full sleeves and soft crushed boots...
The tinted or patterned stocking accomplishes two things at once, drawing subtle attention to the legs and supplying a bit of attractive camouflage. For what does look decidedly démodé is a long stretch of bare, unadorned leg beneath the shortened hemline.
Sahara Woodell, 18,...was wearing a lace-trimmed cotton miniskirt with a jean jacket and combat boots.
...[S]aid Marc Bohan...[of] Christian Dior, 'Women don't seem to be too eager to rush into short skirts'.
Henri Bendel president Geraldine Stutz says we will never see the miniskirt as a major fashion again.
Sahara Woodell, 18,...said she could never wear a mini when she was a student at Springfield High School [1978-82]. 'I was the only one wearing them and I'd get hassled by the teachers and the boys'.
'There are two mini-skirts on campus, and I own one of them,' said Cecelia Manning, a Yale senior...
In the past week of showings of ready-to-wear for next spring, [fashion buyers] had seen lots of short, short skirts.
About three years ago , the direction reversed and designers began shortening skirts - to just below the knee, to the middle of the knee and even clearing the knee.
The sweat shirt extends to a skimp dress...
...[Y]oung Parisiennes are wearing sweaters that stop above the knee or long sweatshirts and thick tights...
Montana's taupe knitted wool [thigh-length] dresses and 'orbital' hats. [The dresses have pronounced shoulder pads and a sweatshirt-like hem band that gives a slight bubble or blouson effect.]
The 1980's, to judge by the recent goings‐on in Milan and Paris, are opening with a rerun of the 60's.
Seventh Avenue designers...move another decade toward the present with their 'new' collections of sixties clothes: ruffled necklines, feathered cocktail dresses, dropped waistlines, and miniskirts...Pauline Trigere...pulled out some of her minis from the sixties...
...[T]he black plastic mini has been part of the punk uniform...
Kenzo, Chloé and others now showed pretty, floral printed-cotton versions of the rah-rah introduced by Kamali and [Perry] Ellis in 1979.
Norma Kamali launched her 'sweats' collection: rah-rah skirts, leggings and jogging suits cut in grey and brightly coloured cotton sweatshirting. The tops often had huge, American-footballer shoulder pads. These low-priced co-ordinates were copied worldwide.
It is hardly the rage it is in London, or the prevailing mode as in Milan. But the priority is about the same as in Paris. With many young women,...the mini is back.
There are...lots of miniskirts in denim being worn in Milan...
...Dana Seymour, 20,...like[s] the Jag jean miniskirt she was wearing while shopping...
[At Kenzo, t]here were short skirts with balloon tops, caught under a low belt; some skirts then swirled out, but others, neat and tapered, were just little wraparounds.
Kenzo from Paris and Kamali from New York have popularised the flounced-skirt variety...
...[T]he chief proponent [of knee-baring skirts]...is Yves Saint Laurent.
...[T]he tight, black leather skirt is a spinoff from Yves Saint Laurent...
[A] straight black skirt...that stops above the knee would put you in the camp with Yves Saint Laurent...All the designers like the skirt in leather (YSL did it first at least a year ago)...
...Saint Laurent faithfuls...might...wear...the short black skirt [they] probably already own...Yves Saint Laurent...established his preference for short skirts, cut off above the knee or shorter....[H]igh heels...are shown with everything.
Karl Lagerfeld, who designs for Chloe, showed the shortest miniskirts.
Karl Lagerfeld added to his freelance commitments by becoming designer-in-chief of Chanel couture.
It has been announced that [Karl Lagerfeld] will serve as artistic director of the [Chanel] couture collection to be shown next January  and it has been rumored that he had something to do with the  ready-to-wear...
The Chanel...skirts have been shortened...Now they clear the knees....[T]he skirts are not only short but tight, causing the models to mince and wriggle rather than stride down the runway....[T]he black-toe pumps have greatly elevated heels, so the look sometimes appears to be a parody of itself...
...Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel almost parodied status dressing,...[showing] miniskirts hung with chains and quilted like the handbags.
...Ines de la Fressange, the model who personifies the Chanel image, appeared on the runway in a suede micro miniskirt...
...Chanel...thought the knee was the ugliest part of a woman's body...
No matter what happened, Chanel always covered the knees.
...[S]ince April 1983, when his first collection was presented in a show of young designers sponsored by Polaroid, Sprouse has shot to international prominence.
...eleven-inch micro-skirts in Day-Glo solids...
Stephen Sprouse combined graffiti, xeroxes and video silk-screen prints. The ghost of Edie Sedgwick, the Warhol starlet of the sixties, stalked his runway in day-glow TV cut-out dresses, hipster minis, tubes and protest jewellery....Stephen Sprouse's electric orange mini-dress suspended from an asymmetrical shoulder strap and covered in paillettes.
This was [Sprouse's] second collection....: miniskirts, cutout dresses, tunics, tights, all in neon colors. Shades of the 1960s, Mary Quant, Courrèges, Biba, Youthquake and the Mods....Sprouse also revived silver lamé in a salute to the space age...
...Giorgio Sant'Angelo...is...making skin-tight dresses of stretch fabrics...
[two mini-length Marc Jacobs sheath dresses in gingham, one strapless with a button-front placket, worn with a mini-length, shoulder-padded coat and high-heeled pumps, and the other with a broad portrait neckline and short sleeves, both very 1950s-looking except for the length.]
...Giorgio di Sant'Angelo['s]...dresses were all seductively draped in gossamer fabrics. [Pictured is a lower-thigh-length sheath dress tightly draped in what looks like chiffon after the manner of 1950s Grès, on a curvaceous, athletic, and buxom model.]
In the 1960's, a young, stick-thin, waif-like but charming English model named Twiggy summed up high style....[N]ow that curves count, Paulina [Porizkova] - with her generous bosom, small waist and curving hips - constitutes a stunning example of the current ideal. Paulina and several of her curvaceous colleagues - Elle MacPherson and Anna Jonsson, to name but two - are stars of the shows for...top...designers...The pulchritudinous model has also come to dominate the pages of fashion magazines...Vogue has put a stamp of high-style approval on the curvily contoured woman....From exercising, working out at gyms, jogging and the like, women's bodies have filled out...
Perry Ellis gave the fashion crowd a jolt with an uncharacteristically close-fitting men's and women's collection shown with sizzle by such models as athletic Jeff Aquilon, lithe Lise Ryall, Elle Macpherson, who is so fit she seemed to leap out of everything she wore...
...the new curvy figure in Patrick Kelly's sequined stretch, 1988. [a skin-tight, silver-sequined, strapless mini sheath-dress to the upper thigh with a bustier bodice, worn with high-heeled silver pumps]...Emanuel's mini-sheath and cartwheel. [a strapless, shirred, mid-thigh-length white sheath dress with a fifties-looking bodice and net-covered black cartwheel hat with matching gloves]
All over Europe, fashion designers...combine the miniskirts of the 1960's with the crinolines of the 1950's...
Perry Ellis...showed...skirts that are padded below the waist at the hip....Ellis calls them 'farthingales'...Ellis...has shaped his linen farthingales with a wad of organdy....[Y]ou can wear them with padding and when you want to change, just take out the padding.
Perry Ellis's...short, hip-yoked, padded skirt, or farthingale...
Westwood introduced what she calls 'mini-crinis' for spring a year ago . She made wired crinolines as separate underskirts to put under her flannel schoolgirl dresses and pleated skirts...There are jeans skirts and bias-cut black velvet dresses with the crinolines built right in....
Westwood herself takes full credit for the crinoline revival.
...[B]est of all were his signature wool jerseys, from the knee to micro-mini.
Alaia's...[s]kirt lengths are shorter than ever, so short in fact that many women may want to lengthen them.
...[T]he Palladium opened on 14th Street...[T]he Azzedine Alaia uniforms for the...waitresses...have black jersey minidresses with tank tops...
...[W]ith [Alaïa's] revival of the miniskirt, stretch slips and dresses that follow and define the wearer's torso with structural welt seaming – he pushes ideas beyond the accepted.
There is no sluggish sensuality from Azzedine Alaïa, whose designs reveal the wearer's every cleft and curve. [Four mini-length dresses are shown: 1. a mid-thigh-length black stretch sheath dress of partly-transparent fabric so thin that it looks like pantyhose nylon, worn with chunky, early-fifties-looking high heels; 2 and 3. Two white pearl-beaded dresses, one a very minimal two-piece of micromini length, the other a slightly loose but openwork one to the top of the thigh; 4. a tightly belted, light-colored stretch dress to mid-thigh with a back bared by an intriguing cutout, again in fabric so thin that it almost looks like the model has nothing on.]
...Alaïa...presented rippling little skating skirts...
[an Alaïa dress with a sheer, fitted, sleeveless bodice, possibly of white stretch chiffon, that drops to a raffia hipster micromini]
What they saw were...miniskirts...Mr. Alaïa is...known for...cutting his jackets and skirts to provide curves on even the most angular bodies.
Body consciousness also reigns supreme as the theme at North Beach Leather, where designer Michael Hoban['s]...strong-shouldered jackets with curvy zippers, paired with matching, thigh-hugging skirts, have their share of sexy appeal.
...Jean-Paul Gaultier and Patrick Kelly...were making skin-tight clothes out of stretchy swimsuit fabrics that left absolutely nothing to the imagination.
Patrick Kelly's...basic stretch body dresses...are embellished with unexpected decorations like the happy self-portrait pinned to a little black dress...a roll of the dice, a galaxy of silver stars or a dinner suit printed with jazzy notes.
In a rare display of unanimity, designers in the world's leading fashion centers here and in Europe focused on short skirts in their recent showings of collections for fall. Most of them, deciding to forget about 'choices' and 'options' - catchwords for the last few years - showed hemlines that bared the knee in most cases and frequently half the thigh as well.
Those who hoped designers had gotten over short skirts by now better think again. Here in Milan, where Round 1 of the spring fashion shows began Sunday, skirts are, if anything, getting shorter....Short skirts are mainstream.
The hemline hike is such an established fact of life in the couture this season  that only two major designers – Pierre Cardin and Yves Saint Laurent – bothered to show any daytime skirts below the knees.
Diehards who want no part of the mini tidal wave can turn to Giorgio Armani, the only major designer in any country who continued to show sweeping hemlines for fall.
If you were looking for long skirts this week you would have to go to the showrooms of the fashion avant-garde....Long skirts are being shown primarily by designers such as Romeo Gigli and Dolce and Gabbana...
In New York, the retro is a road map of the Sixties...Bill Blass echoed Cardin and Oscar de la Renta was mesmerized by Balenciaga's grand couture....David Cameron modernized the drum majorette silhouette of the Sixties...
Everything was worn with nearly opaque panty hose and mostly flats for day...
The differences between the short clothes of the 1960's and the styles offered today are considerable....Today,...styles...have a more formal air. Suits and jackets, almost ignored in the 1960's, are in the forefront of fashion now. Clothes are more shapely, with waistlines generally marked and hiplines often rounded.
At...Perry Ellis...there were very short skirts...Jacket shoulders are not as broad as before...
Donna Karan, Yves Saint Laurent, and Andrea Pfister all featured boots that went to midthigh.
[Donna Karan's] shoes are mainly over-the-knee boots or heels.
Most designers have endorsed opaque panty hose to avoid a look that is too leggy. In dark shades, these hose also offer some camouflage...
Short skirts can look terrific with black or other dark, opaque hose or tights – black sheers when the clothes are very dressy.
Stretch fabrics allow clothes to fit the body closely without inhibiting movement.
Vivienne Westwood...showed bands of fabric not much wider than a belt, under which models wore knee-length jersey 'panties,' as she called them, that looked like bike shorts.
Some of Ungaro's dresses for evening were as short as bathing suits, barely covering the crotch. They were among the shortest dresses in Paris this season.
A new hybrid: Ungaro's bathing-suit dresses...draped and tied on a leotard base, have the brevity of a bathing suit....Emanuel Ungaro's masterly draping of a micromini evening dress (or is it a bathing suit?)...
As hemlines go up, up, up, so are requests for special knee-shaping operations at the offices of cosmetic surgeons.
In London the mini is everywhere, and in Paris it is a faît accompli. In New York the mini is an increasingly popular style.
Many Milanese women are wearing above-the-knee-length skirts. While some of the young wear them scarcely longer than a bandage, mothers and daughters, often walking together, show hems an inch or two above the knee...
The body politic has spoken: The mini-skirt is officially dead. Despite a year-long siege by hemline hoisters, the female American thigh remains fully upholstered.