Here is a wee tour of the Hippie Chic exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. This Facebook album (you don’t need to have a Facebook account to see it) has many more photos of the show. I didn't photograph every mannequin—so there will be some surprises if you do see the show or read the exhibition catalogue.
The exhibition shows designer fashion inspired by the street style created by hippies, and touches on the different elements that went into hippie style: Trippy Hippie, Fantasy Hippie, Craft Hippie, Ethnic Hippie, and Retro Hippie. The phenomenal wigs by Jason Allen, a hair and make-up artist for the Boston Lyric Opera and Boston Ballet, are critical to each look since hair was as way out as clothing in this period.
All fashion is in the collection of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, unless I’ve stated otherwise. Props and accessories provided by a number of lenders (including me). If you do share these images, please link back to my Facebook page or my blog.
The info on each piece comes from the exhibition catalogue, which is available for purchase here. I can't recommend it enough. It not only contains images of many of the pieces in the exhibit, but there are supplementary photos that place each example in context.
In the center of the gallery, on round platforms covered with shag carpeting in acid colors, the Trippy Hippies lead you into the exhibition. In case the colors and styles of these psychedelic clothes weren’t mind-altering enough, a couple of the platforms actually rotate.
One first encounters Patti Boyd’s doppelganger in a Cosmic Couture dress by Barry and Yosha Finch for The Chariot, about 1970. After the design collective The Fool disbanded, Barry Finch and Yosha Leeger moved to Los Angeles where they opened a boutique called The Chariot selling handmade clothing and furnishing fabrics. They eventually shifted to providing the “Cosmic Couture” label to upscale department stores. This dress is perfection with its vaguely medieval style, celestial theme and rainbow sleeves in cotton velvet.
A peak at the lining of the sleeves of the Cosmic Couture dress.
Alkasura jacket with stippled cat and flower print, c. 1970. The mannequin wears my faceted rose-tinted glasses (the ones in the header image of my blog and blog's Facebook page), which I’ve had since 1968.
On the left, the Noel Redding (of the Jimi Hendrix Experience) mannequin wears a Granny Takes a Trip jacket in fabric by Morris & Co. designed by John Pearse in about 1967. On the right, a Granny Takes a Trip velvet suit from the early 1970s.
Lauren told me that these jackets and the trousers were so small, they wouldn’t fit contemporary male mannequins, which are 6 ft. 5 in. tall and buff. So it was necessary to take the mannequins to the Museum carpentry shop to be cut down to shorten them. It was also necessary to have the chest, shoulder blades, pubic area and buttocks sawed off, leaving an effect, as Lauren says, "like Swiss cheese" which "caused the carpenters to be scarred for life."
As a hippie, you could be a Renaissance troubadour, a homesteader on the American prairie, a medieval princess, or any other persona pulled from history or fairy tales.
The ‘three graces’ in the center wear some of the most beautiful dresses in the show. From left, designed by Lee Bender for Bust Stop, circa 1970. Silk crepe dress designed by Ossie Clark with fabric designed by Celia Birtwell,, early 1970s. The exhibition catalogue notes that the center dress by Giorgio di Sant’Angelo was likely inspired by Sandro Botticellie’s early Renaissance work, Allegory of Spring (La Primavera). Dress from 1972 by the fantasy-frock master, Bill Gibbs, in a sea-shell print.
Betsy Johnson’s 1968 Tara dress inspired by 'Gone with the Wind'.
Much of hippie fashion was about DIY and designers followed suit by using a variety of construction and decorative echniques.
You can’t have a hippie show without tie-dye. This Halston pantsuit in silk velvet from 1969 is a luxe version.
Star-embellished boots (made by Gohill, retailed by Granny Takes a Trip, 1969) accompany a Holly Harp tie-dyed dress with an embroidered suede belt. The mannequin is seeing stars in 1970s sunglasses.
The hippie penchant for travel and the romanticizing of cultures that seemed to offer a "purer" way of life was reflected in the use of textiles from these cultures.
Left to right: John Bates hooded djellabah (barely visible) Geoffrey Beane dress, Thea Porter coat made from an Iraqi textile with fur added to cuffs and collar (1969), Thea Porter dress, Zandra Rhodes dress, fringed and beaded suede East West Musical Instruments Company jacket (loan from FIDM Museum).
The mannequins have been raiding my wardrobe again. This one wears a stamped leather hair slide I bought in the early 1970s, when my hair was this long.
Thea Porter chiffon dress with Central Asian suzani bodice (about 1970). Velvet Pakistani bag with gold braid on loan to the exhibition from my collection.
Unlike the romance of fairy tales and costume from earlier periods of history, the ‘Retro Hippie’ mined the recent past—the 1920s-40s. Recalling free spirits such as bootleggers, flappers and Hollywood villains and vamps, these fashions have a more glamorous vibe.
Ossie Clark certainly knew how to make feminine, flattering dresses with his use of bias cut fabric (black and white one with fabric by Celia Birtwell).
An art deco-print jumpsuit designed by Barbara Hulanicki for Biba in the early 1970s. The mannequin holds one of Biba’s mail-order catalogs.
See more photos of the fashion in the exhbition on my blog Facebook page.