In early March, the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City is holding a special exhibit that combines fashion with political statements made in America a few decades ago. Art critics believe that the current political division in the United States is bound to breed a counterculture that will influence everything from art to music and from film to fashion.
Counter-Cuture is an exhibit that started in Seattle and is set to be shown at various galleries across the U.S. According to Gothamist, a lifestyle website dedicated to New York City, the exhibit is based on the handmade fashion efforts of politically conscious designers in the 1960s and the 1970s, two decades that defined the American counterculture movement.
Some of the main pieces of the exhibit illustrate just how powerful musicians were in advancing counterculture during the Summer of Love and the years that followed. There are the do-it-yourself outfits worn by Joan Sebastian, the dresses made the lead singer of the Mamas and the Papas, and the garments made from a contest organized by denim giant Levi’s.
One of the themes of this exhibit is the fact that many of these handmade fashions were designed by very young people who essentially learned on their own. The fashion that emerged at this time, at least for women, was extremely feminine and reflective of the sexual revolution. The paisleys and swirly embroidery designs of the time were likely influenced by the arrival of psychedelic substances such as LSD.
It is important to remember that the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s encompassed several ideologies besides politics. Americans were celebrating the triumph of the Civil Rights Movement; women were embracing sexuality, and young people rebelled against the conformity pushed by the establishment. These were the Baby Boomers and the Vietnam War protesters, many of whom would grow up to reject the Reagan administration and the posturing of the Cold War between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union.
The curators of this exhibit believe that the resistance building up against the Trump administration may influence a second wave of counterculture fashion.