HISTORY OF VINTAGE HANDBAG 1970s: Hippier Chic

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HISTORY OF VINTAGE HANDBAG

1970s:   Hippier Chic

 

There was a time when every fashion-conscious teenage girl owned a pair of look-

a-like Courreges boots and hiked up her hemline.  Once the mass-market manufacturers had rolled out the cheap replicas of “mod” fashion, American and European youth were no longer concerned about what youth were no longer concerned about what was “fashionable”, only with what was “cool”.

The emergence of the hippie movement began as a backlash to postwar consumerism and middle-class value.

 

This teenage rebellion owed both its linguistic origins and its inspiration to the Beat movement in the US and combined a rejection of mainstream culture with questions about America’s involvement in the Vietnam War.

 Hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD were perceived as the gateway to enlightenment and cosmic consciousness, and clothes reflected the bright colors and patterning of the resulting psychedelic experiences.

 

Vintage clothes replaced mass-produced items and included Victorian nightdresses, 1970s tea gowns, feather boas and Edwardian lace blouses that were sourced in attics, charity and thrift stores and boutiques, such as Granny Takes a Trip.

 

These worn and faded garments were paired with patched jeans, kaftans, afghan coats, military greatcoats and cheap cheesecloth dresses.  The plundering of Africa, the Americas and Asia for garments was part of a new aesthetic that drew from the increasing identification with marginalized cultures that the hippies felt.  It also tied in with the desire of the counter-culture to be anti-consumer.

 

Bags were as eclectic as the clothes: a military satchel from an army surplus store, a little Victorian beaded bag, a crocodile clutch from the 1940s.

Hippies did not buy their clothes and handbags; they found them in charity stores, attics and the new antique markets that were part of the Victorian revival.  Increasingly they were also garnered from the souks and bazaars of the hippie trail through Greece, Northern Africa and India.  Returning hippies brought home with them fringed and tasseled bags, carpet bags from reworked kelims and bags embroidered with mirrors. Those that didn’t go on the hippie trail replicated the look with homemade crocheted or patchwork bags, or went to the local “head” shop that had replaced boutique styles with imported ethnic items.

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