Summer of Love Exhibit a Must-See for Fashion Students
The 1960s saw a tectonic cultural shift known for experimentation with drugs, psychedelic art, mind-bending music, and anti-war protests. The era also produced a wildly new approach to fashion. San Francisco was the global epicenter for this cultural shake-up, and in 1967, roughly 100,000 young people converged here to “turn on, tune in and drop out.”
This so-called Summer of Love is the focus of the recently unveiled exhibit at the de Young Museum. Assembled is a stunning collection of rock posters, multi-media art, and fashion from the Bay Area in the late 60s. Cañada fashion department head Ronda Chaney hopes her students will converge at Golden Gate Park once again —this time to see the exhibit. “Our fashion program teaches the history of fashion,” Ronda explains. “And we believe that clothing always makes a statement about the period in time it emerges from.” A number of Cañada students and faculty have seen the exhibit and are raving about all of it, but especially the fashion portion.
The “hippies” of the late 60s and early 70s were reacting to rigid ideas about what the mainstream culture considered acceptable attire. Suddenly all bets were off, and the more outlandish and colorful an outfit was, the better. Members of the counter-culture movement also rebelled against a kind of runaway consumerism they saw in society. In response they started making their own clothes and buying from local designers instead of big department stores and brands. Both the do-it-yourself and locally sourced fashion trends of the day are featured in the exhibit at the de Young.
The impact of the independent fashion designers and craftspeople of the late 60s on the larger world of fashion is undeniable. The imaginative styles invented by non-conformist artists of the time eventually became mainstream, co-opted by the conventional fashion industry and eagerly adopted by the public at large. Today the full-circle path traveled by 1960s fashion can be seen in such designers’ work as Anna Sui, Roberto Cavalli and Etro, among countless others. Ironically the so-called “boho’ (short for Bohemian) aesthetic can be found in every shopping mall in America today.
The Summer of Love exhibit continues at the de Young Museum until August 20th. More information here.