Curating and installing a museum exhibition takes an enormous amount of planning and effort. When I worked in a museum, my colleagues and I would joke that ‘museum years’ were like ‘dog years.’ You could be writing a catalog of the collection or curating an exhibition for many, many years. There were no ‘quick fixes’ in terms of seeing your work come to fruition. But, it was creative and fun and I sometimes miss those days.
My friend Lauren has pulled off the amazing coup of the Hippie Chic exhibition running from July 16 to November 11 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Curating the exhibition entailed choosing which items would go into the show as well as filling in gaps by acquiring pieces and arranging loans from private collectors and other museums. Plus, there was choosing and dressing the mannequins, finding and co-ordinating accessories, working with designers on the display, overseeing photography for and writing the exhibition catalog, writing text panels and labels, and a whole host of other things.
Given that I’m a bit obsessed with the topic of fashion of the late 1960s/early 1970s, I’ve followed the planning and preparations of the show with keen interest.
Yesterday, Lauren was kind enough to give me a sneak peek of the exhibition. The premise of the show is the “trickle up” of hippie street style to designers in late 1960s and early 1970s. I don’t want to give away too much before the opening, but let’s just say that there was enough purple (the gallery walls), velvet, psychedelic prints, flowing mannequin locks, embroidery, fringe and Juliet sleeves to have me continuously oohing and aahing.
The wigs of the mannequins were created by the designer for the Boston Lyric Opera and the Boston Ballet. Lauren provided images of period hairstyles and each wig was thoughtfully co-ordinated with the outfits.
This mannequin wearing a leather and suede jacket by East West Musical Instruments Company in San Francisco sports a hairstyle modeled on Lauren’s (she doesn't usually work in bare feet, but has removed her shoes to stand--at my insistence--on the newly painted platform).
The show is divided into five areas: Trippy Hippy, Fantasy Hippie, Craft Hippie, Ethnic Hippie and Retro Hippie.
We decided that my ensemble yesterday placed me firmly in ‘Ethnic Hippie’ so I posed with the exquisite Thea Porter embroidered and sequined caftan from about 1969.
The tea rose cotton gauze dress with a smocked bodice and ties at the neckline was purchased in 2011 from Nabali at Greenwich Market (same designer who made the red wool coat in this post.) Since a smocked bodice is not a flattering look on me, I’m glad I had my trusty, recently thrifted denim vest. The antique Indian necklace was purchased from Tribal Arts at the Cultural Survival Bazaar and the Mexican embroidered bag came from another Cultural Survival Bazaar vendor.
The opening reception is next Monday and I still need to complete the finishing touches on my outfit. Lauren will be wearing a maxi purchased from Frocktasia and will be the belle of the ball.