BOSTON — From the psychedelic VW buses parked outside, to Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” blaring inside, the Museum of Fine Arts’ newest fashion exhibition “Hippie Chic” is a lighthearted look at a colorful fashion epoch.
In real life, the counterculture often sourced its fashion from a thrift shop, while the show relies on high-end looks that never cavorted in a muddy meadow or camped in a VW bus.
The knits are by Missoni, the tie-dye from Halston and the patchwork is custom Yves Saint Laurent — hundreds of silk and velvet scraps pieced into one maxidress. A zippered full-length python coat from Ossie Clark shows the period’s slick edges as a Gina Fratini prairie dress in white dotted swiss exudes its daisy-chain innocence.
The exhibition, which runs through Nov. 11, alights briefly on each of hippie fashion’s influences — Eastern mystical, Forties retro, granny Victorian, gypsy, dandy, cosmic kaleidoscope, androgyny and Native American. What’s truly dizzying is the show’s entire content was produced in a narrow time frame: 1967 to 1972.
“Hippie Chic” was slotted to open here two years ago, but the MFA withheld it until a bigger gallery space became available. Curator Lauren Whitley took the lag time as an excuse for an acquisition spree — and the show is much improved for it.
Among the gems Whitley scored at auction and through connections are those from boutiques closely tied to the era’s music scene. There are a handful of pieces from Kings Road, London boutique Granny Takes a Trip, an avant-garde space that featured Victorian wallpaper, unisex merchandising and a trippy mushroom logo. The Doors, The Rolling Stones and Hendrix all frequented Granny. Author Salman Rushdie lived above it, he recalled in a BBC interview, and wished for the courage to enter. One afternoon, he saw The Beatles pull up, so he raced downstairs and knocked.
“He said, ‘The door opened, someone blew smoke in my face and then the door slammed,’” Whitley said, recounting Rushdie’s ostracism from the ultimate hipster spot.
The show contains several of Granny’s iconic styles including a William Morris print jacket favored by George Harrison, Clark and others. Granny’s velvet pantsuits were notorious for being so tight that the seams would shred by the end of the evening. One wag referred to “tattered troubadours.” A surviving suit — in purple pane velvet — is in the exhibit.
There are also garments from East West Musical Instruments, a San Francisco boutique that became famous for its leathers.
The show also pays homage to London’s Biba — owner Barbara Hulanicki’s jumpsuits look ready for today’s red carpet.
Show visitors can play one of the era’s songs on the jukebox and stroll a curvy-walled gallery past garments revolving gently on shag platforms. But one unexpected detail brings the era to life. The MFA hired the Boston Ballet’s wig maker to coif the mannequins. Each do has been faithfully copied from an era luminary — there’s Talitha Getty’s coronet of braids, Marianne Faithfull’s thick bangs and Mick Jagger’s shag. Whitley ticked them off on a tour through the gallery.
“I can’t tell you how many fashion magazines I looked at from the era,” said Whitley. “It’s like they’re all my friends.”
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)