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  • Writer's pictureCath @MyMarketingToolbox

Fashion Stories and the Summer of Love - Your visual diary to My Fashion Stories Box Podcast

Hi there fashion, stories and fashion history lovers! Welcome to My Fashion Stories Box Podcast Visual Diary!

Our today’s visual diary will be dedicated to the Summer of Love and how this special Summer influenced fashion but not only…

Summer? But we are in February! you are going to tell me… yes, I know. But, as February is the month of Love, I thought it would be completely relevant to speak about an event which would give birth to the Peace & Love movement of the 70s…

The background

The Summer of Love took place in 1967. This event finds its roots in a more general context. Indeed, all started with the American young generation protesting against the US government, the Vietnam war and the consumerist society. These would be the first steps of the Hippies, or the Flower Children. But, before Woodstock, the first Hippies gathered in San Francisco, in the suburb of Haight-Ashbury. San Francisco, at that time was the center of counterculture events.

Earlier that year, Michael Bowen launched there the “Human-be-in” event in January, 14th 1967.

Michael Bowen was an American fine art artist who died in 2009. He is considered as an icon of the American Beat Generation and is said to have had an historical impact on the literary and visual art worlds by influencing avant-garde art circles.

Michael Bowen

He spent a large part of his childhood with his grand-mother, who was an adept of esoteric. He would attend mystical gatherings and would even study Eastern philosophies and mysticism that he would apply in his artworks. With such a background, no wonder he was at the origin of a movement advocating the coming back to a more natural way of living…

During that event, Timothy Leary, another emblematic figure of the movement, would coin the slogan “Turn on, Tune in, Drop out.”

Indeed, Timothy Leary, a controversial American psychologist, was a strong adept of psychedelic drugs. He argued that LSD could be used for therapeutic purposes and enjoined people to consume drugs.

Timothy Leary

His sentence will have a high influence on the Summer of Love and the development of the hippie counterculture. Young people will literally take this slogan to the word and will stop their studies for a while.

As per the drugs’ consumptions, it’s not a secret that Hippies were big consumers of LSD and cannabis, among other drugs, which were said to enhance their experience of life. However, the high level of drugs’ consumptions during the many events organised celebrating the Hippies' way of life and love led to an increase of criminality and rapes, completely at the opposite of the movement’s philosophy. These drugs would later be forbidden.

The message

The concept behind the Summer of Love, as announced in the Hippie newspapers, the San Francisco Oracle, was “a new concept of celebrations beneath the human underground must emerge, become conscious, and be shared so a revolution can be formed with a reconnaissance of compassion, awareness, love, and the revelation of unity for all mankind.”

San Francisco Oracle Cover Vol.1 No.5, January 1967

The Human-be-in event gathered around 30,000 people and was the foundation of the Summer of Love.

During the spring break of 1967, college and high-school students headed towards Haight-Ashbury. This afflux of people caught the attention of the local government, which tried to stop it, and of the media, which made it wider.

The Summer of Love was a way to contest the new born consumerist society which appeared after the Second World War. It was a way to promote a new way of life, more respectful, closer to nature. But it was also a lifestyle based on love.

The Summer of Love wasn’t just young people gathering together with flowers in their hairs, smoking drugs and promoting free love.

It was a complete subculture that was born in 1967.

Music festivals would be organised, with famous musicians playing, as Jimi Hendrix, The Mamas & The Papas, The Who, Janis Joplin...

John Philips, from The Mamas & The Papas, would even compose the song “San Francisco (Be sure to wear flowers in your hairs)” to celebrate this event.

If you go to San Francisco...

The Summer of Love ended at the end of summer 1967 with young people going back to the “real life”, their studies or to find a job.

On October, 6 1967 a parody of a funeral entitled “The Death of the Hippie” would be organised.

The organiser, Mary kasper, would say:

“We wanted to signal that this was the end of it, to stay where you are, bring the revolution to where you live and don’t come here because it’s over and done with.”

The Death of the Hippie

The legacy

But it wasn’t really over. It was just the beginning in fact. Just look at the 70s and on how big the Summer of Love influence has been on the fashion, lifestyle and way of living with the famous sentence “Make love not war”.

“Turn on, Tune in, Drop out”

To commemorate the Summer of Love of 1967, a rock musical started playing at Broadway: “Hair: the American tribal love-rock musical” by Gerome Ragni, James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot.

Here is a video from Muhlenberg Theatre & Dance to give you an idea of this musical:

A revival of Summer of Love took place in the 80s. 1988 and 1989 summers are considered at the Second Summer of Love with the emergence the acid house music and rave parties in Great Britain where drugs as LSD would be widely consumed.

The Summer of Love and its influence on fashion

For me, the biggest legacy of the Summer of Love on fashion is all the Hippie dresses we saw during the 70s and the “Fashion is not fashionable anymore” movement.

Hippies were all about communion with nature and a bohemian way of life. Of course drugs played an important role as you will have these psychedelic prints on dresses said to reflect the experience of consuming LSD.

You will also see floor-length for women reminding the Victorian times and featuring flower prints. You, of course, have the infamous flared pants worn both by men and women.

The Hippie fashion was also about natural fabrics, as cotton and linen, and natural deying process. It was also about Do It Yourself, mending, second hand. Why creating an outfit from scratch if we can use already used resources. The first steps of our modern sustainable fashion, 50 years later.

The Hippie fashion also featured ethnic inspiration as peasant blouses, Afghan coats, South American inspired outfits. Nowadays, we would scream “cultural appropriation”. In the 70s it was a way to pay tribute to these societies and way of living which respected nature. A slow living.

Zoom in… Jeanne Rose, one of the influential designers of The Summer of Love

Jeanne Rose was born Jean Colón in 1937 in Antioch, a city not far from San Francisco. She moved to San Francisco in 1964.

She is also known as Jeanne Colón, Jeanne the Tailor and her label New Age Creations in Cloth.

She started to design clothes for herself and for her daughter and her style began to be noticed by the people. Her signature style was about custom made to order clothes fitting the body and made with natural fibers.

She was mostly dressing local musicians and she did her first fashion show in 1967 with a light show and models dancing.

Jeanne Rose young

In an interview she said:

“In the Bay Area we were more ‘into’ natural fabrics and feel-good clothing. I felt that natural fabrics made comfortable clothes and I used only cotton, silk and linen. At an interview, I said that I liked to feel naked in my clothes and did not like store-bought, as some of it was so strange looking to me— so artificial. Everything I made had to be natural, feel natural, and look real. When I traveled to New York with the Rascals, my ‘look’ was commented upon and admired. Paisley? We wore Paisley – it was emblematic of the spiritual change some of us were trying to make.”

She is now an international authority on herbal and natural remedies and aromatherapy. You can find more on her on her website.

The Summer of Love and fashion designers

Many designers took inspiration from the Hippies’ fashion and their dresses.

If we look at modern designers, here are some examples on how the 1967 Summer of Love influenced them:

  • Rotarde SS 2018 collection

  • Giambattista Valli Fall 2017 collection

  • Fendi Fall 2017 collection

The Summer of Love: to go further

This period of time being so emblematic and meaningful for San Francisco and for the Hippie Movement that the De Young Museum organised an exhibition entitled “The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll”.

Have a look at their website for more information on it:

And to conclude with, a video summarising The Summer of Love 1967…

Peace & Love to you my dear Fashion Stories lovers and let’s have our next Summer of Love to promote slow living and respect to nature and humans. Our planet with thank you…

Feel free to follow the podcast My Fashion Stories Box on your favorite podcast platform, on social media and on the blog for a visual diary alongside with each episode.

See you there!

Cath MyMarketingToolbox

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