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Chic or Freak? Bohemian Fashion

By Shari Last (www.thread .co .nz)
The fashion conscious are facing a Warholian paradox in the pursuit of the avant-garde in the age of mass media, trying to look individual and quirky while everyone else is doing the exact same thing. I don’t want to look like everyone else, but unless I make my own clothes, it’s hard to buy stuff that makes me look individual.

The mis-match (or Miller-Moss) bohemia trend has taken over the High Street and sidewalks. Lacy string tops, baggy three-quarter length trousers, cowboy boots, leg warmers and stilettos. Add a fur tippet, shawl or vintage leather jacket and pile on the eye-liner. And you’re ready for a typical day at university.

Trying to dress down really does take time. So what’s going on? It’s not that watching too much TV has rotted our brains, it’s more that watching so much TV has made our brains explode. There’s 60’s chic, 70’s groovy, 80’s cool, 90’s bad hair days and of course the 00’s revamp of the 50’s. Our new style is exactly like Tarantino’s Kill Bill – a complete collage of homage.

We can’t decide whether to dress like Audrey Hepburn or Bruce Lee so in the end we opt for both. Chuck in a bit of Mary Quant and a pinch of Joan Collins and we have our outfit for tomorrow. And it looks good. We can mix elegance with ripped jeans; rock ‘n’ roll with Cirque Du Soleil. We could even throw in a little reggae.

Is this Couture New Wave or is it total mass-culture pop? Prague, the former heart of historical Bohemia, can help explain the madness; its Castle built in patchy architectural styles: Gothic, Neo-Classical, Baroque, Romantic… Prague has a unique character and an aura that can never be imitated. This is why simply copying, stitch for stitch, what Marilyn Monroe used to wear would be incredibly... sad. One must take these past fashion delectations and appropriate them in one’s own unique way. Improvise, go jazz; a little bit of this, a little bit of that.

One last point though: we don’t actually wish we lived any time but now. This postmodern trend has no room for nostalgia; we are celebrating this precise second. We’ve gone camp, we’ve gone haute couture. Hell, we’ve even gone in our underwear. It’s got to the point where we can’t even remember who we’re trying to look like. All we know is that we like this style and that colour. It doesn’t really match but that’s ok. We’re screaming out, so we need to wear very loud clothes. And we’ll wear what we like, whatever the weather – so stop asking me if I’m cold.

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