Fabrics. The splashy vibrant color contrasts and the dark but brilliant stained-glass coloring of abstract painting affected fashion in fabrics, where brocades, tweeds, and printed silks took on the same intricate patterns and arresting colors. Fashionable fabrics continued to be thick and spongy but were invariably light as air and often with a flaky, layered effect. Wools, silks, cottons, and mixtures of the natural fibers with man-made variations were ridged, puffed, blistered, double-woven, carved, crosswoven in one color over another, or printed over a woven pattern. Liberty of London's Art Nouveau prints of huge stylized flowers or paisley forms were highly fashionable and influenced the entire fabric market, as did Staron's glistening Alaskine, a mixture of silk and worsted with a highly polished surface. Pile fabrics were very important, from a new matte velvet to downy mohair coatings, always in vivid colors. Plaids, stripes, bold checks, and paisley patterns were smart in both day and evening clothes.
Fashion Accessories. The universally-worn pump became somewhat less pointed an definitely lower-heeled, both day and evening. The stacked leather heel and a tailored bow at the instep were typical of the new shoe shapes. Christian Dior introduced ankle boots of flat fur, suede, and also metal lace.
Although it was still considered correct to go hatless, 1961 brought an upswing of hat consciousness to smart women. The high, off-the-face pillbox hat worn by Mrs. Kennedy set a fashion which soon became a rage at hat bars across the United States and Europe. Swagger hats pulled down to one side and turbans or bubble-shaped hats which concealed the hair completely became an essential part of the 1961 look.
A handful of famous hairdressers stepped into the limelight. Alexandre of Paris, Rene of London, and Mr. Kenneth of Lilly Dache in New York became the acknowledged dictators of the vogue for very high, spherical, or beehive coiffures achieved by backcombing hair until it literally stood on end. Mr. Kenneth (Battelle) achieved the most significant recognition when, on Sept. 28, 1961, he was singled out by a jury of fashion experts to receive one of the year's coveted Coty American Fashion Critics Awards at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On this occasion he shared honors with Ben Zuckerman, noted designer of tailored fashions; Bill Blass, of Maurice Rentner and Gustave Tassell, dress designers; and Bonnie Cashin, creator of sports fashions.
Trimmings on clothes in 1961 were either rich and extravagant or virtually absent. Beads and jewels were applied as if by a jeweler and often covered the entire dress. Sable, chinchilla, lynx, and leopard made collars or bandings on day and evening clothes. Velvet, grosgrain, metal braid, soft kidskin, or reptile leather were used as pipings on tailored clothes and sportswear, and jackets of leather appeared in street costumes. Fringe was a popular trimming in wool or tweeds and silk for evening; many designers showed dresses entirely made of fringe. Dark gloves, pale stockings, and big jeweled brooches worn center front on a dress were accessory highlights of the year. Handbags were of medium size, preferably of the satchel type, and often had gilded chain handles and fastenings. Alligator in black, brown, or blonde was the most fashionable leather. It was no longer considered chic to match accessories.