Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hippie Rock Stars via the MFA

I finally got to the Hippie Chic exhibition at the MFA last night. It was smaller than I'd hoped but spectacular; the clothes are almost all amazingly creative, gorgeous, sometimes hilarious mementos from an era like nothing we'll ever see again. Go see it; it will bring happiness.

Although I was too young to wear such high-fashion items, I lived vicariously through my much older, very cool sister. In those days, it was possible to recreate whatever you saw in Vogue or Seventeen via similar sewing patterns (Vogue, Butterick, McCall's) and fabrics — we had huge, wonderful fabric stores in my hometown. So my sister's closet was full of granny dresses, hot pants "suits,"and many matching sets of vests and bell-bottoms in velvets and brocades, all beautifully sewn and customized by our mother. (Does anyone sew most of their wardrobe nowadays? No one I know. I wish I'd learned to sew, but I refused to learn, foolishly thinking I'd have a seamstress mother around all of my life.)

I plan to go back to the MFA and study the show again, play the fabulous free jukebox, and take photos (which I'll post here). The jukebox is programmed with music you may not have thought you'd want to hear again but, somehow, the music made the clothes come alive, while the clothes made the music seem strangely new and interesting. Context is everything. "The Age of Aquarius" was playing as we came in; I've tuned it out countless times, but  this time I listened with fresh ears. (That is one bizarre song; what were we thinking?) And, as I was telling a friend about that fortuitous Judy Collins concert we caught in Portsmouth last month, "Both Sides Now" started to fill the gallery. (Wow, man, cosmic.)

As Judy said that night, "If you remember the Sixties, you weren't there." Those were strange days in fashion and in many other ways, and they are now Olden Days... for almost all of us. (You probably know at least one person who is still trapped there...) But you can still turn yourself into a hippie rock star and grace your very own psychedelic album cover, courtesy of the MFA.  Just go here and be prepared to download a photo of your face. It's a trip, trust me — the interface was thoughtfully designed with Flower Power in every detail. And there's a soundtrack.

I hippified all four of the cats, as you can see:

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