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Style Stars Vol. 3- The Summer of Love

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

*Love is understanding


As 1960's rock artists The Byrds famously expressed in the era-defining song "Turn, Turn, Turn", to everything there is a season. To me, the summer season has always represented freedom. and in turn, the groundbreaking fashion of the 1960's, and the legendary 1967 year-long 'Love-In' better know as the Summer of Love. It may seem trivial to consistently view life thorough the lens of fashion. But stay with me here; I promise a magical tour of an iconic era.


While one of the main critiques of the fashion industry is that its arguably superficial nature, nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to 'street style', where all real movements in culture and human history begin, and find their most pure expression by virtue of the 'people'. The Summer of Love most certainly commenced in the streets of San Francisco, and was ultimately celebrated and expressed across the nation by **"gentle people with flowers in their hair".


On a surface level, the Summer of Love from the rules and constraints of traditional 1950's style and attitudes. But as we take a closer look at what the Summer of Love truly represented, we find that people were searching for freedom from so much more. So what was The Summer of Love exactly? Let’s go back and do a mini-deep dive on the era’s aesthetic, ethos, and enduring legacy.

In this generation, in this loving time


The seeds of 1967's Summer of Love were planted on January 14th of the same year, when some 30,000 people gathered in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park to take part in poet Allen Ginsberg and writer Gary Synder's "Human Be-In" initiative, part of the duo's call for a collective expansion of consciousness. But the official kick-off to the Summer of Love is widely recognized as The Monterey International Pop Festival a three-day music festival held June 16 to 18, 1967, that introduced the world to Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Who, as well as showcased the emerging California sound that would come to rival British rock at the top of the 60's charts, the Grateful Dead, the Byrds, the Mamas and Papas and the Jefferson Airplane.


The Summer of Love as a whole is regarded as a social phenomenon that occurred across the summer of 1967, when as many as 100,000 people, mostly young (and largely driven by Scott MaMcKenzie’s May 1967 hit song “San Francisco” as he proclaimed **”Summertime will be a ‘Love-In’ there”), converged on SF's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, parading in imaginative and scene-stealing fashions, and espousing ideals “counter” to the dominant culture of the day. Which then begs the question, what was the dominant culture that this many people were seeking sanctuary from?


In this generation


The 1960s in America as a whole was a time of tremendous trauma, upheaval and unrest. Racial segregation and inequality, the assassinations of a sitting US President and Senator [brothers JFK and RFK, respectively], as well as the two most prominent leaders of the Civil Rights Movement [MLK Jr. and Malcolm X], and a horrific war in which American soldiers were drafted without choice, by mail and later by actual televised lottery based on date of birth: these were the realities that young Americans had to come to grips with each and every day.


And then even the movement that had propelled the Summer of Love, the escape into the counterculture, found itself marred with almost as many problems as the dominant culture they were attempting to flee. The search for expanded consciousness had spiraled into substance abuse for countless, and many marches for peace were descending into violence, as young people grew apoplectic and dismayed at the unyielding and relentlessly heartbreaking status quo. How then are both the decade and the Summer of Love, remembered with such romantic vision?


We will make the world shine

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the human experience, if we are to progress, is to examine and extract the good aspects of any era and leave the bad ones behind. The ideals put forth so strongly throughout the Summer of Love stretch across all time: Love over hate, Peace over war, Equality over injustice. Perhaps Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. put it best when he expressed this sentiment: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”


On June 25th, the soon-to-be anthem of the Summer of Love was performed for the first time to a worldwide satellite audience. The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” was the perfect encapsulation of all that the Summer of Love came to be known for. John Lennon's lyrics were deliberately simplistic, yet deeply profound.

***“There's nothing you can know that isn't known/Nothing you can see that isn't shown/There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be/It's easy/All you need is love”.

The notion that love could truly conquer all was sublimely stated throughout, but not romantic love as most bands had previously sung of, but Love for all of humanity. The Beatles had once again set a standard of expression for the era that was near impossible to top.


We were born to love one another

But guitarist George Harrison went even one step further, by calling the song “subtle ‘PR’ for God”. George had each experienced earthly idolatry firsthand, and knew that it wasn’t the answer; he subsequently set out on a lifelong spiritual quest for a higher meaning and his higher self. He wanted to use his “star power” to bring others along with him on that quest, and directed the focus that had been on him, his band and their music, towards a divine power and purpose. This is perhaps the most powerful and significant impact of the music of one golden summer.

Truly the legacy of the Summer of Love is reflected in its music—in its universal expressions of Love and Peace, and the search for Divine Consciousness—reverberating across time.


We must be what we are going to be


While the women on this list of 1960's fashionistas are by no means perfect or intended themselves to be held up as role models (although the first two are pretty flawless in my humble opinion), they were all strong women who spoke their minds, held fast to their individual values and beliefs, and asserted themselves in the world in a completely unique manner.


And each changed the social and cultural norms of the times, and consequentially the vernacular of fashion forever, by daring to step outside the box of what had come before.


And all we have to be is free


The style stars of the 1960's absolutely changed the face of fashion for all time after, guiding women to find the power to present themselves the way that they would like, rather than having someone else dictate it. And to express their inner-selves and ideals through their dress.


Or for the first time for many, their pants.


Without ranking, here are my picks for the Style Stars of the Summer of Love.

**************************************************************************


Corretta Scott King


As the wife of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Corretta Scott King stood as the rock by his side he could rest upon, when the weight of a movement and the focus of the world grew too heavy. Her fashion choices echoed back to the 1950s-- elegant, graceful, and feminine. But it was the way she wore her clothing (and always on-point accessories) that was an assertive statement that no matter how things might look or feel, you could always carry yourself with a strong sense of strength, hope, optimism and joy.


Iconic Style Moment- In a bright coral skirt set, standing out as a beacon among the crowd at the march for voting rights on Selma.


Jackie Kennedy


As First Lady and wife of President John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy brought a sense of glamour that the White House had not seen before and arguably has not seen since. Her style was traditionally feminine, but always with a little twist. And in her casual “uniform” of a pair of capri pants, short-sleeved solid t-shirts, ballet flats and over-sized round sunglasses (her signature twist), she inspired a generation of women to feel elegant in whatever they wore.


Iconic Style Moment- At a White House state dinner in a simple black square-neckline tank, paired with a floor-length yellow skirt, cinched and tied with a bow at the waist, and white opera length gloves.


Joan Baez


Mexican-American singer-songwriter Joan Baez made it crystal clear that women’s voices were literally and metaphorically as strong as the male points of view that had previously dominated the music scene. Holding equal footing with legends such as Bob Dylan, and lending her voice alongside his for peace, she pioneered the instantly recognizable look of the white billowy “peasant” blouse worn atop wide-legged blue jeans, perfect for sitting cross-legged, singing with her guitar.


Iconic Style Moment- Posing with Dylan in a long black pea-coat, white button-down shirt peeking out underneath, paired with black tights, kitten-heel black pumps, and a bouquet of dark, long-stemmed flowers, flanking a poster which reads “Protest Against the Rising Tide of Conformity”


Anita Pallenburg


German actress and girlfriend of Rolling Stones rhythm guitarist Brian Jones, she influenced an entire generation of 1960's British and American rock musicians--and the women in the audience--with her risk-taking use of color, pattern and shape. Her greatest contribution to the fashion scene is arguably the most flattering silhouette for any body type: a short flowy dress with opaque tights and flat mini boots. You will find this look in just about any current fashion magazine, and it still looks amazing.


Iconic Style Moment- With boyfriend Brian Jones at London’s Heathrow Airport, in a short, dark floral patterned dress (with puff shoulders, swoon!), Mary-Jane pumps, long chain handbag, and floppy straw hat framing a blond bob.


“Mama” Cass Elliot


In an era where a model named “Twiggy” was being upheld as a standard for body type, Mamas and Papas vocalist Cass Elliot proved that beauty and style were not one-size-fits-all. Her voice was not only the centerpiece of the band's lush vocal harmonies, but her beautiful psychedelic-print dresses were the pinnacle of 1960s Southern-California cool and laid-back style.


Iconic Style Moment- In the audience at the Monterey Pop Festival, watching Janis Joplin’s (who is certainly deserving of an honorable mention on this list) on-stage debut, in a light blue print dress, cat-framed sunnies, oversized butterfly ring, and long flowing brown hair with signature California streaks of blonde.


Jane Birkin


English-French singer-songwriter and actress Jane Birkin elevated jeans and a plain white tee into a art form. Best-known as the inspiration for the wait-list-only Hermes ‘Birkin’ Bag, she ironically was famous for using a wicker basket as a handbag, rounding out her aforementioned uniform of white tee, jeans, flats and minimalist makeup. Her clothing and makeup choices were more often than not subdued, allowing her natural beauty to speak for itself.


Iconic Style Moment- An editorial fashion shoot in Paris, in a simple long-sleeved floor length dress, embellished with an embroidered vest and a statement necklace, echoing the iconic and instantly recognizable aesthetic of London’s famous Biba Boutique.



Grace Slick


In the absolutely male-dominated world of rock and roll, Grace Slick emerged as not only the first female to front a rock band of note--San Francisco’s Jefferson Airplane--but also as one of the most powerful, recognizable and resonant voices of all-time.


Iconic Style Moment- Onstage at the legendary Woodstock Festival of Love, Peace and Music, in an all-white ensemble of bell-bottom pants and flowing fringed keyhole tank top, off-set with a beautiful crown of brunette curls, and a subtle yet strong summer coral lip.

**************************************************************************


Love is understanding we gotta be free


Many critics of the Summer of Love ethos and ideals are quick to point out that despite the movement, the 1960's ended in much the same way that the decade was ushered in; with assassination, war, and social and racial inequality.


But once we realize that the values of the Summer of Love found their true roots on the spiritual rather than the physical plane, we must recognize that neither time nor "failure" can stand in our way to manifest our collective vision of Love and Peace on this earth.

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace" Ecclesiastics 3, 1-8


While the sun may have set on the original Summer of Love, we must never give up on our march to realize this dream.

In the iconic words of Bob Dylan, ****"I swear it's not too late. "


Love and Light, Maria xo


*For Pete’s Sake, lyrics by Peter Tork & Joseph Richards [Performed by The Monkees]

**San Francisco, lyrics by “Papa” John Phillips [Performed by Scott McKenzie]

***All You Need Is Love, lyrics by John Lennon & Paul McCartney [Performed by The Beatles]

****Turn, Turn, Turn, lyrics by Bob Dylan [Performed by The Byrds]


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