Monday, September 23, 2013

Hippie Chic at the MFA

We also went to the Boston MFA last week, first time in four years.  Not just to see the current special exhibit on Hippie Chic.  But we did see that.

As a fashion exhibit it was great.  That is, as an exhibit of clothes that even at the time would have been more expensive than I could have afforded and more fashionable than I could have pulled off (or put on), and that anyway I've only seen in photos, and that are thus are worth paying money to ogle in a museum, it was fine.  You know, if you listen to the music of the period, you've seen photos of Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Nicks, Grace Slick, Lulu all wearing stuff like this, so it's nice to see it in person, in a kind of starfucking sort of way.

I did take issue a little bit with the characterization of it all as hippie.  Predictably, given my own obsessions.  The exhibit did gesture toward the fact that this was, after all, for the most part haute couture trying to co-opt street fashion:  big business stealing kids' ideas and trying to sell them back to them.  And in the case of the hippies, who like the punks a generation later were pretty much a DYI kind of movement, into found and made objects above all, the ideological contradictions get pretty heightened.  Some of these dresses and suits were in-the-scene and of-the-scene, but some were the Man, pure and simple.  I can understand why, coming from an institutional context that's more or less dependent on charitable contributions from the Man, why that tension wasn't interrogated more.  But still.