How it Started - Psychedelic Fashion
The 1960’s was a time when big political and social change were occurring and fashion was breaking a lot of rules of its own. The use of chemical stimulants was mainstream and fashion was going along for the ride. It was inevitable that the two would go hand-in-hand since one of the major effects of an LSD “trip” was a heightened appreciation for color, texture and line. Psychedelic fashion enhanced the whole hallucinogenic experience with its bright colors and bold patterns. Around the middle of the decade, fashions arising from small pockets of young people in a few urban centres received large amounts of media publicity, and began to heavily influence both the haute couture of elite designers and the mass-market manufacturers. Examples include the mini skirt, culottes, go-go boots, and more experimental jashions, less often seen on the street, such as box-shaped PVC dresses and other PVC clothes.
The late 50’s also saw the emergence of Pop Art, which presented a challenge to the traditions of fine art by blurring the boundaries between high and low culture. Leading proponents of the 1960s Psychedelic Art movement were San Francisco poster artists such as: Rick Griffin, Victor Moscoso, Bonnie MacLean, Stanley Mouse & Alton Kelley, and Wes Wilson. Their Psychedelic Rock concert posters were inspired by Art Nouveau, Victoriana, Dada, and Pop Art. The "Fillmore Posters" were among the most notable of the time. Richly saturated colors in glaring contrast, elaborately ornate lettering, strongly symmetrical composition, collage elements, rubber-like distortions, and bizarre iconography are all hallmarks of the San Francisco psychedelic poster art style. The style flourished from roughly the years 1966 to 1972.
1967 was the peak year for psychedelic rock. It gave us Sgt. Pepper’s, debut albums by Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, the Grateful Dead, and the Monterey Pop Festival. It was also The Summer of Love, the counter-cultural phenomenon where nearly 100,000 young people arrived in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district to celebrate music, art, and life. It was the year where just about everyone tried to make a psychedelic rock record, from obscure underground bands to bubblegum pop groups.
Psychedelic fashion became a way for external reality to seemingly be transformed by the visions projected on the mind's internal screen. Psychedelic fashion was a quintessential 1960s movement. Although, eventually multiple designers adapted to psychedelic fashion and design which is why inventors can’t be singled out. Nevertheless, the psychedelic preoccupation reached a paradigm at the Manhattan boutique Paraphernalia in 1966, when electrical engineer Diana Dew devised a vinyl dress that turned-on at the command of the wearer. A miniaturized potentiometer fit on the belt of the dress and regulated the frequency of the blinking hearts or stars, which could be coordinated to the throbbing beat of the disco soundtrack. That same year, Yves Saint Laurent brought psychedelic light and color to pop art's disembodied trademarks with a bridal gown that flashed an incandescent flower, which enlivened the runway show's traditional finale.
Psychedelic sensibility was essential to the second phase of 1960s' fashion vocabulary. The unprecedented outfits certainly owed something to the phantasmagoria of acid visions. Tribal and psychedelic converged with mottled patterns of African and Indonesian fabrics, the phosphorescent splotches and showers of tie-dye.Psychedelic fashion was a grass-roots groundswell, a radically demotic movement that eventually generated a ubiquitous acknowledgement. In New York, for example, one could buy made-to-order tie-dye ensembles at both The Fur Balloon on West 4th Street in Greenwich Village and at Halston's salon on East 68th Street on the Upper East Side.
The major styles and patterns in psychedelic fashion are:
Kaleidoscopic Florals: Traditional 60’s inspired floral prints are twisted into kaleidoscopic patterns combining bold colours and abstract shapes.
Fluidic lines: This classic 1960s Californian hippy look uses long fluid lines and soft lightweight fabrics to add softness.
Hypnotic: This look has a hypnotic effect with optical patterns in bright pops of color or monochromatic schemes that trick the eye.
Tie-Dye: The popularity of these artistic, kaleidoscopic designs spread rapidly, and tie-dyed fashion was born. The well-dressed hippie took care to accessorise the look, with both genders adding headbands, beads, fringed shawls and ethnic jewellery.
Psychedelic is a trend that can never be out of fashion. It's not just fashion statement, it's a family, it is a tribe.