Both the New York Times and Style.com are reporting the return of hippie chic, and I couldn't be happier. What better time way to celebrate the Summer Solstice and the fortieth anniversary of the Summer of Love than to break out my floor-length, cream-colored, hooded and intricately bodiced authentic 1970s sun dress, a pair of weathered platforms, and Pearl by Janis Joplin?
Just the other day, I was considering heading up to Jimi Hendrix's grave, which happens to be less than an hour from here, in a nondescript town in Western Washington.
The Whitney Museum's Summer of Love show is, according to Style.com, "a buzzy cocktail of record jackets, spin paintings, and... electro-bright furniture."
The Times profiles musician Kim Matulova and her adoration of and emulation of Janis Joplin, calling her style "a departure from the structured shapes and rigorous geometry of the current ’60s wave... blithely improvised, unencumbered and emphatically fluid."
The look is having a booming comeback.
"In cities as far-flung as Miami and Los Angeles, young women in the vanguard are setting aside their trapeze and baby-doll dresses — and as often as not, their drainpipe jeans — in favor of a breezier, more audaciously colorful interpretation of boho chic. Their pavement-grazing frocks, bells and feathers, flares and cascading hair, recall the freedom that once was a hippie rallying cry, an invitation, quite literally, to go with the flow." (Times)
The Summer of 2007 is rather reminiscent of the situation that sparked the Summer of Love in 1967. The U.S. was embroiled in a disastrous war and the young crowd, feeling helplessly useless to prevent anymore death and destruction, proclaimed that they'd make love, not war. John and Yoko campaigned heavily, saying that they'd grow their hair out until there was peace, and the hippies followed suit. The Times recalls the "naïveté and renegade spirit of the hippie period," although the naïveté disappeared as the war waged on and the White House continued to manipulate the trust of the world.
My father remembers that his university in upstate New York had to shut down for an entire semester because students were attending anti-war rallies and not class. He remembers people sitting on the lawn as the Layla album by Derek and the Dominos blasted over loudspeakers. (This was a few years later in 1970.)
I became especially interested this movement when I lived in Los Angeles, one block above The Whiskey a Go Go, where Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Otis Redding used to play. I purchased the Hippie coffee table book in Venice, California in an appropriately Nag Champa-filled shop. The book largely chronicles the hippie movement in California, from Los Angeles up to San Francisco.
It would be nice to see some of today's nouveau-hippies promoting love, not war, but until they do, we can at least enjoy the memory.