by Justine Picardie
These days it really helps to be rich to dress like a hippie, says
closet thinker Justine Picardie
Four decades after the Summer of Love and Woodstock, the hippie look
has moved from counter-culture rebellion to mainstream establishment
fashion, proving surprisingly durable for something that once seemed
as ethereal as a butterfly wing. Purists might scoff at this season's
incarnation - commonly referred to as 'hippie deluxe' - with its
expensive designer sheen, as exemplified by Roberto Cavalli's long
lace and Liberty-print dresses, worn with trailing scarves, lashings
of kohl and a six-figure diamond friendship bracelet.
As the daughter of a free-spirited 1960s hippie mother, who floated
around London with barely a penny to her name in authentic
Indian-cotton kaftans and flip-flops that cost next to nothing, I
suppose I should start harrumphing now about lost ideals (and where
have all the flowers gone?).
But actually I can recognise the appeal of hippie deluxe, even if the
label is mildly annoying; and anyway, all those iconic photographs of
Talitha Getty, Anita Pallenberg and Marianne Faithfull are proof that
there was always a luxurious alternative to my mother's homespun
hippie wardrobe. Not for them the eschewal of riches or consumerism:
they were swathed in costly chiffons, satins and feathers by Ossie
Clark or Yves Saint Laurent; and in an era that celebrated the Flower
Child they introduced a darker streak, described by Marianne
Faithfull as an 'evil glamour', with their mutual passions for heroin
and the Rolling Stones.
The look was distilled in Patrick Lichfield's famous photograph of
Talitha Getty on a Marrakech rooftop in 1969; her husband, John Paul
Getty, is brooding and hooded in the background, while she is poised
in white harem trousers and a silken couture kaftan.
Yves Saint Laurent - Talitha's favourite designer, along with
Valentino - described the young couple as 'lying on a starlit terrace
in Marrakech, beautiful and damned, and a whole generation assembled
as if for eternity where the curtain of the past seemed to lift
before an extraordinary future…' Talitha died of a heroin overdose in
July 1971, but acolytes might argue that the curtain never really fell on her.
Certainly, a curiously material version of her ghost seems everywhere
this summer, haunting the imaginations of designers; and it is as if
her wardrobe has been ransacked, ready for expeditions to Glastonbury
or Ibiza. You could spend a fortune on all of this, of course, only
for it to be trampled in the festival mud or lost in a suitcase at
Terminal 5. And if that happens? Well, as a true hippie might have
said, 40 years ago, 'It's karma, man.'