Posts Tagged ‘chic’

‘Woodstock’s 40th Anniversary’ by Sarah Leigh

September 16, 2009


In an effort to expand and diversify our content we have asked Sarah Leigh, managing editor of trend forecasting site and author of Sarah Leigh’s Style Files to contribute a monthly article to our blog. Here is the first, a look at the 40th anniversary of seminal rock festival Woodstock and the numerous styles it spawned.

There’s something about the hippy movement of the 1960’s that makes me think they were on to something…and arguably you can, and many have compared the subculture’s heyday as similar to the time we now face.

For example, in 2009 there are a record number of communes and shared living arrangements popping up across the world –not places for oddball ‘free love’ types, but homes for like-minded creatives, seeking an alternative to the humdrums of reality. Yes, this, amongst other things, is a direct result of the economic downturn and recent political discord, but this mirrors the ethos of the 1960’s hippy whom occupied communes, promoted a bohemian care-free way of life and made music acts and festivals as infamous as we consider the likes of Woodstock are today.


Hippies stemmed from the Beat Generation of the 1950’s (pioneered by the likes of American writers including Allen Ginsberg), who sought a romantic desire for a spontaneous, independent existence following the strong intellectual undercurrent that swept the postwar era. The 1950’s were a time of readjusting to a post violent and economically unstable environment, just as 2009 sees wars continue in the Middle East and the global recession continue to blight society. As the 1960’s began, and hippy movements and collectives popped up across the globe, inspired by the values of the Beat Generation, off they went with their anti-war protests and proclamation of a ‘new dawn’.


Hippies turned to their alternative arts of street theatre, and synonymous music genres as a way of expressing their feelings and their protests. Hippies opposed political and social convention, choosing a gentle ideology that favored peace, love and personal freedom. 2009 has also seen the number of protests rise, most notably in a calm and orderly fashion, as documented in Welcome To The Fold’s September post Protest Chic, objecting against anything from war, to lack of money, to unemployment to climate change.

1969 saw the zenith of hippy culture; Woodstock. According to Rolling Stone magazine, Woodstock was one of the ’50 Moments That Changed the History of Rock and Roll’.


August 2009 saw the 40th anniversary of the now infamous music and art festival. The 1969 event and subsequent documentary movie cemented its place in history with bands like Grateful Dead and singers Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix playing to the 500,000 strong crowd at Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in White Lake, Sullivan County. The documentary movie, re-released on DVD this year captured the hedonistic weekend in all its glory, later receiving the Academy Award for Feature Documentary.


Over the years many have been inspired by the bohemian attitude and aesthetic of Woodstock, while many films and songs reference it, most recently director Ang Lee re-told the story featuring critically acclaimed young actors Demetri Martin and Emile Hirsch in ‘Taking Woodstock’. The comedy-drama is based on the memoir Taking Woodstock: A True Story of a Riot, a Concert, and a Life by Elliot Tiber and Tom Monte. Cue a barrage of 1960’s hippy get-up on the big screen.

Given the frequency with which hippie looks are richly revered and regularly revived, Woodstock’s anniversary spawned yet another resurgence. Spring/summer 2009 enjoyed bohemian headbands, floral maxi dresses, denim waistcoats and high-waisted denim flares.

The remarkable era looks set to drift well in to autumn/winter 09/10’s mindset; fashion power house Topshop’s latest trend ‘Marianne’ boasts “the fashion zeitgeist of the late 60s with glamorously bohemian pieces”, not to mention “rock-royalty shades…tarnished sequins…textured Mongolian gilets…and platform thigh boots [to] finish off the free loving rock-chic look”


Earlier on Style Files I documented the rise in Beatnik styling, using the film Almost Famous as inspiration for the look.

It’s not unusual for such an iconic event to influence fashion time and time again, but my question is will it ever stop? The bottom line is hippy and Beatnik infused trends are fail-safe and entirely commercial, with a shed load of differing looks to explore. Don’t give up on ‘boho’, if the economy and political landscape have anything to do with it, it’s a safe bet for at least another summer.

Protest Chic

September 10, 2009

Fashion has, to some extent, always been about message. These messages may have, at times, been slightly counter-productive and even hypocritical, but the fashion world has always flirted with socio-economic statement, purely for the edgy, counter-cultural vibe it gives their wares.

Little wonder, then, that the latest manifestation of sartorial comment is protest chic, a fairly new phenomenon borne of current political and economic circumstances and the high-profile protests that have spawned as a result.

© Unconditional

The agendas on offer are certainly dynamic in their presentation – anti-globalisation, anti-capitalism, climate change; this season, it seems, the one article that no self-respecting fashionista should be seen without is an opinion.

A look at this year’s G20 protests in London certainly does a lot to prove this – the protesters on the front lines were, in many cases, more likely to be sporting designer sunglasses and sloganised clothing than dreadlocks and excessive facial piercings.

It is a sad fact that a significant percentage of those protesting at such events, particularly in the affluent West, are not doing so out of a selfless wish to fight an institutional evil; for many it is all about the aesthetic. The thrill of rebellious discord is, to some, an incredibly romantic and idealised concept, and the proletarian drama of the picket line is something they wish to immerse themselves in, despite having little knowledge of the issues being protested about.

It is this group of protesters that have the genuine hardliners up in arms – an anti-capitalist protest arguably holds less weight if the person next to you is holding a Louis Vuitton handbag. Nevertheless, despite the perceived superficiality, it possibly represents something much more positive; people, particularly the youth, are becoming more interested and observant when it comes to politics.

© Marc by Marc Jacobs

The first decade of the 21st Century has, so far, been a fairly comfortable one for Generation Y – those in the West are lucky enough that they live in a society where politics is something that can be safely ignored, compared with other, more oppressive nations. It is only recently, since the collapse of the American sub-prime market that politics has entered the mainstream consciousness as something that needs our attention.

So what exactly is the protest chic look? Well, according to various patrons of the look, it’s important to capture the hippy feel, without subscribing fully to the hippy aesthetic. So, vintage and flea market finds are in, but shabby, overworn items are out and, generally, conspicuous labels are too, although some do find it very difficult to part with the designer accessories.

Think Glastonbury boho-esque festival styles and you’re on the right track. Protest chic is very much about being fashion-free – typically, items are bought second-hand and therefore do not subscribe to typical industry ideals regarding fashion.

However, this doesn’t stop major brands trying to emulate the look – numerous labels such as Lacoste and Vivienne Westwood Red Label have incorporated layered knitwear, loose trousers and nostalgic patterns and checks into their latest collections for the A/W 09/10 season.

© Lacoste

© Vivienne Westwood Red Label

Plenty of thrift-store knitwear, classic patterns and functionality are key features of protest chic, as are sloganised t-shirts and dynamic graphics, particularly those with a slightly subversive edge. So, this autumn, get yourself to the frontlines and shout like you mean it.