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First introduced to the fashion world in 1965, the miniskirt was part of a widespread wave of sexual openness and personal freedom that was sometimes called the sexual revolution (see entry under 1960s—The Way We Lived in volume 4). The short skirts that exposed four or more inches of a woman's thigh were not only lighthearted but sexy. The skirts also represented a movement away from society's restrictions on women's freedom.

The first miniskirts to appear on Paris fashion runways were created by French fashion designer André Courrèges (1923–), who was tired of the old-fashioned designs and prim knee-length skirts that dominated the fashion of the early 1960s. Courrèges wanted to introduce a radical new look that would bring youth, freedom, and originality to the world of fashion, so he dressed his models in simple A-line dresses (flared bottom and close-fitting top) that ended four inches above the knee. Flat-soled white boots completed the "mod" look. Though some critics were horrified by the new style, many others were charmed, and the miniskirt caught on quickly. London designer Mary Quant (1934–) shortened the skirt still further, and changed Courrèges's flared skirt to a tight, body-hugging shape. Famous models like Twiggy (1949–) popularized the new skirt, and it quickly became a commercial success. Although many women lacked the courage to wear the new minis, much less the even shorter microminis that followed, hemlines in general went up, and women's fashions became bolder and freer than before, representing a change in women's attitudes about themselves.

Miniskirts are usually identified with the mid-1960s, but they have resurfaced on the fashion scene several times since then. In the mid-1980s, pop singer Madonna (1958–; see entry under 1980s—Music in volume 5) introduced a popular new style of dress that included a revival of the miniskirt. The early 1990s saw another return of the revealing style.

—Tina Gianoulis

For More Information

Milbank, Caroline Rennolds. "A Mini Splendid Thing." Interview (Vol. 17, no. 9, September 1987): pp. 130–32.

"Miniskirts." Yesterdayland. (accessed March 14, 2002)

Schneider, Karen. "Up, Up and Hooray! Designer André Courrèges Celebrates 25 Years of Miniskirt Fame." People Weekly (July 9, 1990): pp. 79–82.