Today, let’s go back to our roots and explore where the Boho movement came from. Where did all the artists, writers, dreamers and visionaries come from? While we might see small tidbits of Boho culture in antique times (and especially in the colorful medieval garments of the common people), most experts agree that it was the 18th century that started this entire counterculture revolution of.
When did Boho-chic start?
The Bohemian counterculture started in France just after the French Revolution. The aristocracy used to have an extensive system of patronage, where they fed and supported artists they favored. Due to the volatile and ghastly nature of the revolution, the patrons were gone and the artists left to their own devices.
Artists, being artists, free-minded and crafty, began wearing unfashionable, used, gaudy and ragged clothing. The lack of funding made the artists adapt to a nomadic lifestyle, and changed the perception that society had of them.
Artists used to be considered craftsmen, like blacksmiths or candle makers, but now, with no job and no purpose, artists took to making themselves a work of art.
How did it evolve?
The French Revolution and the upcoming Napoleonic Wars had shaken the French society to the core; most so the artists and the other members of society that depend on the aristocracy’s patronage. With so many artists going out of work and into a poor, radicalized society, Bohemian counterculture thrived.
This was a fertile ground for an entire movement that encompasses philosophy, fashion, art, poetry and literature, all struggling with existentialism. Boho clothing became a mirror to the soul of the disheveled artist of the age, and soon enough you couldn’t be considered one unless you lived the style.
What is The Aesthetic Movement of the 19th Century
The next natural evolution to the Boho style was the Aesthetic Movement, born out of the steel grasp of the Industrial Era. The lifeless designs and the endless bellow of the steel machines that churned out cloth after cloth were considered dehumanizing, and artists did not want to look the part.
The counterculture decided on the Medieval look, using individually crafted dresses and clothes, which were loose and vibrant with color, a stark contrast to the constrictive, grim and drab clothes of the 19th century, especially the corsets and bodices of the Victorian high fashion.
The Familiar 20th Century Bohos
The Boho counterculture kept going strong in the 20th century, and while not most people are familiar with Beatniks (the proto-Hippies) of the 50s, everyone’s heard of the Hippie movement that lasted from the 60s to the 80s.
The 20th century struggled a lot, with two World Wars and a great Economic Depression that really shook society up to the core. It was fertile ground for a new, rejuvenated Boho movement in the middle of the materialistic society that feared “the next big war”, and later on, the consumer society that came to be around the 50s.
Beatniks went off the beaten path and as all artists and free thinkers do, they wore simple clothes and didn’t want to fit into “the machine”. They led simple, nomadic lifestyles.
As the anti-war movement became strong, and the hippie movement was at its peak, the next step in the Boho evolution was here. Long, loose, free-flowing clothes, often with customized and handmade decoration, ruled the land and communes.
A simpler life, far away from the machine-like cities and the drudgery of an everyday commute was what brought hippies together, and they formed communes. After a while, most hippies returned to civilization, but they kept a thing or two Boho in their new, normal lives. Often the nail art.
Eventually, their children saw the dreamcatcher, weren’t made to wear suits, and were parented with a lot more freedom. And here we are.
Where are we now?
We are at the pinnacle of Boho, the modern age. There haven’t been so many educated dreamers, freedom-lovers and free-thinkers in any epoch in history; it is here that we see a double-edged blade in Boho fashion.
Boho was a counterculture; it’s gone mainstream now, and most people have at least one dreamcatcher in their home. Loose, silky garments are the norm these days, and we’re even seeing students show up to class in pajamas. Most people have forsaken the shackles of trendy fashion and dress at Goodwill or other stores that carry antique clothing.
While some believe that Boho-chic lost its flare since you’ll see Boho styled clothing in Met Galas, we believe it’s the strongest it can be, in a free world, where more and more artists come into the light.
And it will only get better.