The story appears on

Page B5

August 23, 2009

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature

Woodstock's hippie fashion beat endures

A tie-dyed T-shirt, flared jeans, a jersey maxidress: closets are filled with such whiffs of hippie, whether vintage or brand new. Either way, the fashion mood they represent hit mainstream consciousness during those three dirty, sunny, music-soaked days in Bethel, New York, from August 15 to 17, 1969, a reminder of the let-loose, come-as-you-are ethos of the era. Woodstock, in its tribal vibe and aesthetic, was the anti-fashion fashion event ?no labels, clothing-optional and a whole lot of style.

In fact, the unfolding of the hippie-chic look ?so often attributed to Woodstock, the 40th anniversary of which was last weekend ?dates more accurately to the Summer of Love and 1967 San Francisco, where Levi jeans and peasant blouses spilled out of Haight Street stores and onto Dolores Park frolickers.

By the time the look moved east, in 1969, it had been appropriated by a youth culture bent on up-ending the modest uniforms ?knee-length skirts, sheaths, paneled suits ?of the early 1960s.

?The hippie aesthetic) was more motivated by an idea that you were going to get away from the whole fashion system,?explains Valerie Steele, director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

"And instead, you were going to express yourself. It's just that everybody happened to be expressing themselves in very similar ways.?

That expression, of course, was about many things ?among them embracing earthiness and do-it-yourself style ?and while the labels might not have shed a light on any particular 7th Avenue star, the clothes turned a generation of 20-somethings onto the joys of casual dressing.

The annals of fashion are full of hippie-inflected collections (not to mention show notes and reviews peppered with Woodstock references), from Yves Saint Laurent's late 1970s haute-hippie "gypsy?line, with its loose beaded gowns, to Marc Jacobs's spring 2005 collection for Marc by Marc, which featured patchwork knee-grazing dresses and cuffed patched jeans, on over to Anna Sui, whose fall 2002 outing was replete with crocheted babydolls and shoulder bags.

Even those designers whose aesthetics don't exactly sing flower power felt touched by the event. Betsey Johnson, who says she was "too chicken?to attend Woodstock, nevertheless designed clothes at one point for headliner Janis Joplin ?velvet bellbottoms and silver tunics ?and recalls the do-it-yourself attitude about dressing for the occasion, an approach she considers apt for these economic times.

"I think it's very relatable to right now because it's doing what you want to do with the stuff you have,?Johnson says.

For the Elmira, NY-raised Tommy Hilfiger, "Woodstock solidified the fusion of music and fashion. It was the moment when I began to look at musicians not only for their music, but also for their style.?

Hilfiger was 18 that summer. ?I) vividly remember,?he says, "how the music inspired me to create clothes that embraced this freedom of expression.?

It would seem as though that freedom, an enticing mix of rebellion against sexual norms, military power and tailoring, are the enduring influence on a contemporary crop of designers. Lyn Devon, a designer known best for her tailored Uptown-girl creations, remembers "watching the footage, girls in loose flowing dresses, tanned and barefoot, a seat of prints and colors.?

To Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, Woodstock, with its challenge of the "status quo,?is a reminder of the importance of approaching every collection "with freedom in terms of ideas and execution.?

A dominant theme of the festival was the sense that one could dress "locally?and don a mash-up of pieces, from a beaded necklace bought from a guy on East 4th Street to a blouse embroidered with daisies by one's great aunt to a pair of crisp 501s worn in after days of tent-dwelling.

"There's a mixing element, from all over ?different ethnic pieces, with a pajama top, big jewelry, body paint,?says Vena Cava's Sophie Buhai of how she and partner Lisa Mayock have put traces of Woodstock in collections.

Imperfection, another key part of rebellion, strikes a chord.

"Mainly I think hippie style was the burst of having dirty hair and being grunge. We definitely love the idea that dirty things can be beautiful,?Buhai notes.

And so the Woodstock fashion beat goes on.

Era's Legacy Designs

Check out all the hippie-chic designs in this photo: Henry Duarte's cotton denim jeans, Jil Sander's metal and plastic sunglasses, Linea Pelle Collection's leather belt, Chan Luu's jasper and leather necklace. South Paradiso Leather's deerskin shirt and Genetic Denim's cotton denim jeans, Eric Javits?rabbit fur velour hat, leather and brass bracelet (worn as necklace) from Giles&Brother by Philip Crangi, Chan Luu sterling silver and tiger's eye ring and Justin's leather boots. Douglas Hannant's raffia ribbon embroidered silk tulle tunic, Jennifer Ouellette's peacock feather headband, Erickson Beamon's 24-karat gold vermeil and painted bone ring and Genevieve Jones?leather bag. Levi's cotton top with Levi's (reissued) cotton and elastane bell bottoms. Patricia Underwood's rabbit fur velour hat, Dannijo's oxidized silver, gunmetal, and 14-karat gold-plated metal bangles and Adia Kibur's seed bead bracelets. Lost Art's beaded hemp poncho, and Oliver Peoples?titanium sunglasses.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend