Color Revolution: Style Meets Science in the 1960s

September 14, 2013 – January 26, 2014

Color Revolution_Style Meets Science in the 1960s


Color Explosion ExhibitDuring World War II, materials shortages led to rationing and regulations in the fashion and textiles industries. Clothing designers faced limits on the amount of fabric they could use in garments, and textile designers were limited in both the amount of dye and number of colors in each design. In the immediate postwar period, design was influenced by sustained rationing in much of Europe, as well as the “Good Design” exhibitions that continued to push the principles of international modernism, with a grayed palette and sparse patterning.

At the same time, chemists and manufacturers were experimenting with new fibers and dyes. These experiments in technology, combined with a cultural reaction against the perceived dreariness of the wartime legacy, resulted in an artistic explosion of color and patterning in the 1960s. Op, pop, psychedelic, neon, and day-glo are just some of the style terms common to this period. Influences from non-Western cultures brought new color palettes, design motifs, and combinations into Western design.

Color Revolution explored the new dyes, fibers, and designs of this fertile period and helps visitors understand how technology and design support each other.

Color Explosion Exhibit 2

Color Explosion Exhibit 3


CNN ’60s Exhibit in Grand Central Terminal


Pieces from ATHM’s Color Revolution – which showcased the artistic, cultural, and technological explosion of color and design that defined the 1960s – were showcased the week of May 26, 2014 in an innovative new display at Grand Central Terminal in New York City to promote a 1960s documentary by CNN. Above, items from Color Revolution, including a pink and white polyester jumpsuit, are prominently displayed during a CNN report on the exhibit.

Special Programs During Color Revolution

An Evening with Regina Lee Blaszczyk

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 
5:00 – 6:30pm: Free view of the museum and sneak preview of Color Revolution
5:30pm: Private reception with Regina Blaszczyk for members and VIP guests
6:30pm: Public talk with Regina Blaszczyk

Regina Lee Blaszczyk is Chair in the History of Business & Society in the School of History at the University of Leeds in the UK, and Associate Editor at the “Journal of Design History.” Her research focuses on enterprise and consumer culture, on design and innovation in the creative economy, and on the chemical industries. She has published seven books, including Producing Fashion: Commerce, Culture, and ConsumersAmerican Consumer Society, 1865-2005: From Hearth to HDTV and The Color Revolution, her most recent book.

When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to “think pink!,” it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue. It is the latest development of a color revolution that has been unfolding for more than a century. Come hear award-winning historian, Regina Lee Blaszczyk, as she traces the relationship of color and commerce. Dr. Blaszczyk will examine the evolution of the color profession from 1850 to 1970, telling the stories of innovators who managed the color cornucopia that modern artificial dyes and pigments made possible. These “color stylists,” “color forecasters,” and “color engineers” helped corporations understand the art of illusion and the psychology of color.

Dr.  Blaszczyk will also be signing copies of her book, The Color Revolution, which will be for sale in the Museum Shop.

Members-only private “Coffee with the Curator” event and tour

Tuesday, September 24, 201310:00am – Noon
Members only private tour of Color Revolution: Style Meets Science in the 1960s with guest curator, Madelyn Shaw.

From Finland With Love: Marimekko in America, Past and Present

Sunday, October 6, 2013, 2:00 pm
Susan Ward is an independent curator and researcher specializing in textiles, fashion, and design history, with a particular interest in Marimekko and 20th-century Finnish design. She was for many years a Curatorial Research Fellow at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, contributing to numerous exhibitions and publications, and was co-curator of the 2011 exhibition Knoll Textiles, 1945-2010 at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City. Over the past 15 years she has worked on a number of research and exhibition projects on the history of Marimekko and Design Research, including the 2009 Design Research retrospective installation in Harvard Square, and is also a collector of vintage Marimekko clothing and fabrics.

In the summer of 1959, Marimekko designs were introduced to the American market through an exhibition at Design Research (D/R), the innovative Cambridge home furnishings store founded by architect Benjamin Thompson. Marimekko fabrics and their dresses, dubbed a “uniform for intellectuals,” went on to enjoy phenomenal success in the U.S. (especially in the Boston area) over the next 20 years. Now, having recently celebrated its 60th anniversary, Marimekko is once again bursting onto the American scene. Ms. Susan Ward will discuss the history of Marimekko, D/R, and the local context, from the 1950s to the present.

Free Super Saturday

Saturday, October 12, 10am – 5pm
Free admission and special Color Revolution-related activities for the whole family!

Hippie Chic: Counter Culture in Fashion, 1967-1972

Sunday, November 3, 2013, 2:00pm
MFA curator Lauren Whitley takes us on a trip back to the late 1960s to explore the fun and expressive fashions inspired by hippie style. With their highly-personalized, counter-culture clothes hippies forged a new look – tapping vintage to ethnic sources– that “trickled up” to influence more traditional ready-to wear and even haute couture designers, thus “hippie chic” was born.

The end of the 1960s and early 1970s witnessed not only a cultural revolution, but a sartorial revolution, as global challenges to social and political authority expressed themselves in new ideas about clothing. In rejecting the values of prevailing “straight” society, the emerging hippie culture abandoned futuristic Mod styles in favor of an eclectic and highly-personalized look that combined vintage clothing with fashions informed by contemporary Pop art, nature, fantasy, and ethnographic art. Hippie fashion was fun and expressive. This new “do-it-yourself” attitude in fashion was taken up by a wave of young designers (many of them fresh out of art schools) and hip boutiques in London, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The exciting new fashions that emerged offered a direct challenge to the hegemony of Paris haute couture, and between 1967 and 1973, many trends actually “trickled up” from street styles to influence more traditional ready-to wear and haute couture designers.

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