Woodstock means something to everyone — those who actually played in the mud piles of Bethel, N.Y., and those who watched the footage decades later. Here, diverse types weigh in on those infamous three days of peace and music.

“[Woodstock] was where anyone who aspired to be a hippie wanted to be. I wasn’t old enough at the time [to go], but I did read about it and definitely knew about it. Anybody that lived in America knew about it. It was on the cover of Life Magazine and in every paper. — Anna Sui

This story first appeared in the August 12, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“The whole reason that you want to play in music festivals is because of what Woodstock stood for. Then you get to one and it’s nothing like that.” — Shirley Manson, singer, Garbage

“I was the only one who didn’t go….There was a feeling that you could do anything — no rules and restrictions [that were] part of the late Fifties, early Sixties. [We went] from girdles to no bra or panties. Ultimate freedom, however, always has consequences, but it was an exhilarating time.” — Norma Kamali

“Because I’m old, I was there. I remember mom and pop there, a woman screaming, and there’s a guy — this woman with watermelon, watermelon on my body and this woman with pink on her face. And a black guy, with his guitar on fire — so that was one of them. And this woman screaming. And that is all. And I, you know, searched.” — Courtney Love (Love was five in 1969. WWD could find no prior reference to her childhood attendance at Woodstock. However, at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, Jimi Hendrix did set his guitar on fire.)

“Woodstock is one of the biggest inspirations of community getting together. Unfortunately, I didn’t go because I was too young.” — Donna Karan

“Music has always had a profound and positive effect on people, and with the hippies it was an overt expression of that happiness. I may not know The Grateful Dead, but I do know that Sri Swami Satchidananda actually opened Woodstock and spoke about peace and love through music, which are both things that I can support even if I don’t love the whole folk music thing.” — Russell Simmons

“I was thrilled I wasn’t there. What I wanted in life was to see the world. Then I discovered a job that if I worked harder than anyone else, I could travel and take the time off as I pleased. That was the great thing about modeling. I was more interested in going to Northern Uganda than Northern New York. I liked 1,000 elephants more than 1,000 hippies.” — Lauren Hutton

“I grew up in San Francisco in the Seventies, so I’m used to that vibe. Woodstock was all about revolution and thinking of things in a different way. It’s actually a lot like the times we’re living in now.” — Peter Som

“We Brits loved the music, but we were not so great at being hippies. We did not really have the deep ideological commitment to the counterculture. Me and my pals were more about working on our look than worrying about politics and changing the world. We had jobs in a department store, which was very un-Woodstock and very uncool. We loved Jimi in his orange feather boa, but for all the wrong reasons. In the U.K., we had our Woodstock equivalent, the Isle of Wight Festival — Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, The Who and more. And Joni Mitchell. I remember her yelling at us and calling us a ‘bunch of tourists.’ I am sure she was right.” — Simon Doonan

“Woodstock to me was something that I always assigned to my parents’ generation, and I always thought of it as a bit elderly, something that was very distant and happened a very long time ago….[Doing this film] made me understand my parents a little bit better.”
— Mamie Gummer, star of “Taking Woodstock”

“Babies were made at Woodstock from strange people who hadn’t met before. It was the place where all this energy from this aggression and art and culture came together in one moment. I want to go sit [at Woodstock] now and make my own mud pile and pretend 100,000 people are with me.” — Davis Guggenheim, director of “An Inconvenient Truth”

“My dad went to Woodstock and I grew up hearing stories from that generation. I always wished our generation had gotten its s— together to do something that cool.” — Sophie Buhai, Vena Cava

“I have a little farm up in the area now and whenever I drive to Woodstock, I feel that atmosphere hanging around in the streets even though the festival was a bit away from the village. The good vibe lives on and the music is everywhere.” — Helena Christensen

“The first thing that comes to mind is the music. People don’t feel music the way they used to. Woodstock was the epitome [of that]. I wish I was around back then. It was just a magical time. I go to a lot of festivals because I love music. At Woodstock, you were amongst legends, and not one or two but tons. Only time will tell whether there’s a moment like that again.” — Nicole Richie

“I was there. I didn’t have my driver’s license at that point. My older cousin surreptitiously wrangled her father’s car (fabricating a tall tale that we were invited to her friend’s family’s house on Cape Cod — none of us who went told our parents the truth in advance) and we embarked totally unprepared for the event and the conditions awaiting. It was three days of incredible music, mud, naked bodies, peace, love and rationed Raisinettes — the only provision we were able to get our hands on.”
— Charles DeCaro, creative director, Laspata DeCaro

“My older brothers were complete hippies. I grew up in France listening to Janis Joplin, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan. It was a borderless movement — still to this day, the name ‘Woodstock’ is magical to my French ears.” — Sophie Theallet

“Woodstock was a revolution, liberation, constitution and real f— off rock ’n’ roll. I think it’s a moment in history that speaks to so many generations because who can’t identify with peace, love and good times? We all need more of that.” — Erin Wasson

“I wasn’t around in 1969, but I still listen to tons of musicians from that time — Janis Joplin, The Band, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker and Jimi Hendrix. And all of the bikinis and cover-ups I did with Shoshanna for our Made With Love Collection this summer were inspired by Woodstock — the florals and the colors.” — Charlotte Ronson

“What a tremendous influence that whole summer had. It was about the Sixties, about young people thinking about the world, wars and politics and questioning things. That’s exactly what’s happening today on a number of levels, and while it may be a different vibe now, this all came out of the Sixties.” — Patrick Robinson

“For me, it wasn’t defining as far as style, but for Nicole [Richie] it clearly was. From a musical perspective, it had an enormous impact on the world. For me, the coolest part would have been to see Joe Cocker play. He’s a legend.” — Joel Madden


load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus