Bohemian style is ever-present. Beyond cliché staples (tie-dye, peace sign earrings), there are entire companies dedicated to marketing lazy-polished earth-mama wear. The forever-reigning royalty of this aesthetic: hippies in the 1960s and 1970s. They birthed a ton of trends that are popular right now, like printed platform heels, suede ensembles, wide-leg pants, culottes, off-the-shoulder blouses and bright floral prints.
Don't believe me? See for yourself at Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest at the New Mexico History Museum, which pays tribute to the cultural period in New Mexico in the 1960s and 1970s with a massive display of photography and memorabilia, including original garments and jewelry worn during these decades of free love.
Voices is a collaborative effort by Curator Meredith Davidson and historian, author and radio producer Jack Loeffler highlighting New Mexico as a destination for those seeking alternative lifestyles. "There are some [photos] that bleed into the '80s, but the majority hit between 1967 and 1975," Davidson says. The exhibit highlights six communes that developed around the state with oral histories told by over 40 people who lived among them.
A sparkly wall of bead curtains forms the entrance to the huge exhibit. You can hear Allen Ginsberg reading his masterwork
as you’re bathed in purple and amber light, practically time-machined back to a groovier period. A pale blue VW Bus with one of its windows converted to a television scrolls scenes of New Mexico landscapes. Small alcoves throughout the show are dedicated to specific alternative living experiments, like The Hog Farm, New Buffalo, the Lama Foundation and Libre, each of which embraced its own ideologies, practices and free-spirited styles.
The high desert attracted a particular kind of hippie. "New Mexico's story is really not like a flower-power, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll story," Davidson tells SFR. "It's more of an exploration of alternatives and of what it means to live and to practice more in tune with nature and sustainability."
The Hog Farm portion of the exhibit features a small square-floral top crocheted with colorful yarn. It's a chic-grandma pattern you'll see on expensive modern knits, including a cardigan Nasty Gal made in 2016, which sold out a few days after its release. In the same area, you'll see a matching beige halter and skirt set that looks worn, like whatever babely '60s gal owned it really lived in it. Fashionistas (I hate that word) today could rock the pair just as easily; matching sets are bonkers-popular right now.
Despite the totally unglamorous name of their home, the Hog Farm commune's members had style, which is depicted again in an image from a ceremony in Los Alamos from 1969: The women in the photograph wear floor-length paisley and floral off-the-shoulder dresses, which definitely seem like hippie iterations of the striped preppy ones you'll see girls wearing all summer.
The alcove dedicated to Yogi Bhajan, the guru who introduced kundalini yoga to the West, features photographs of parties he held with his following in the Santa Fe mountains. In one image, a girl with a bouncy afro sits in her boyfriend's lap wearing a flowing purple wrap and green skirt—a strange color combination that has popped up on recent runways with descriptors like "eggplant" and "moss."
Physical examples of garments in the musuem also mirror current trends. A particular blouse—which belonged to Lisa Law, who also made and owned that matching set and took most of the photographs in the exhibit—is a stunning example of Mexican embroidery, which is one of the hottest trends in the world right now. We've seen it on every garment imaginable in the past year, from Gucci denim jackets to Dior's mostly sheer Resort 2017 collection, which recently debuted on a sand catwalk in the California desert. Expect it on swimsuits and even espadrilles this summer. Not gonna lie—I'm into it.
Davidson says that at the time, Mexico was an alternative mecca for the West, an influence blatant in the fashion. While New Yorkers journeyed to India to connect with new beliefs and ways, Californians and New Mexicans were hitting Mexico. "The fashion that developed in the hippie and counterculture scene here was more deeply influenced by Mexican traditions than by Indian traditions," says Davidson, "so you get things like huipils [embroidered blouses] that come out of Mexico."
Another wall features a screen playing the 1968 documentary Revolution, which captured life in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, a counterculture hotspot at the time. It stars New Mexico-born Louise (renamed Today) Malone as the hippie heroine. In the film, Davidson says, Malone dons "what you traditionally think of as the flower power-y, hippie-chic clothing." She wears a bright canary-yellow color in a few scenes, and similar pieces have appeared in summer collections recently. Her long dresses with bell sleeves are long and flowered, looking like vintage versions of current Chloé pieces.
Just as what goes around comes back around in fashion, Davidson says she hopes visitors can see history's cyclical patterns in the exhibit and find inspiration from a generation that chose to stand up and protest war and government corruption.
"A lot of the issues we touch on are things that people are still grappling with now, whether that's how to be an engaged citizen or how to stand up for rights," she says. "Hopefully young people can be inspired by the fact that there's this whole generation that stood up and made things possible for people today."
Voices of Counterculture in the Southwest
10 am-5 pm daily. Through Feb. 11, 2018.
Museum admission $7-$12.
New Mexico History Museum,
113 Lincoln Ave.,