Hippie Chic – A Fashion Exhibition Gets Trippy

Discover more about this fashionably retro exhibit in Boston and an interview with its curator

The 1960s saw a revolution in fashion and a rebellion against authority that would forever change the idea of “personal style.”  Known as the Hippie Movement, the cultural phenomenon was born from young people who were trying to establish their identity via creative channels such as art, fashion, and music. Artists such as Janis Joplin, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones flooded the streets, along with a whole new way of dressing.

“Hippie Chic” is a new fashion-focused exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that explores this movement and celebrates the colorful world that came from it. For the first time, haute couture designers were not the ones dictating the trends – everyday men and women from Golden Gate Park to Woodstock deftly mixed ethnic clothes with thrift store finds. The effect was an inspiring mix of personal styles, which eventually trickled up to high fashion, influencing designers like Halston and Yves Saint Laurent. This exhibit explores all aspects of the movement – The Psychedelic, The Fantastical, The Retro, The Ethnic, and The Crafty.

In an exclusive, Lauren Whitley, MFA curator of textile and fashion arts talks to shoescribe.com about inspiration for the exhibition which runs through November 11th.

What drew you to the hippie movement as the subject for this exhibition?   
First, I have always been interested in this exciting fashion period. The late 1960s and early 1970s witnessed the counter culture’s challenges to the political, and social status quo, which also was reflected in new ideas about clothing. Fashions began to trickle up from the streets to affect mainstream and even high fashion. 

What is the importance of shoes in the movement?  
Whether it was buckskin fringed boots, campy platform shoes, or Mexican sandals, footwear was vital to completing the perfect look. 

What is it that is so inspiring to designers today about hippies? 
Hippies had an “anything goes” attitude to fashion that was very liberating. They did not want to be told what to wear…they made it up with an exuberance and sense of fun that is still inspiring today.  The freedom to experiment and express oneself is one of the lasting gifts of hippie style.

What is the most surprising element to the exhibition that people may not expect?
I think the colorful and fanciful menswear might be a bit of a surprise.  This was a great era for daring menswear whether it be caftans or Edwardian dandy suits. 

Favorite pieces in the exhibition?  
Hmm…that is a tough one. I love so many of the pieces!  But I especially admire the Granny Takes a Trip “William Morris” man’s jacket, the Thea Porter caftan, the Ossie Clark black and white retro dress, and the Bill Gibb romantic dress.


Shop our 60’s-inspired shoes here!

Credit: Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Posted by Suzie

back to top