It was the Neanderthals who first did bohemian. All those naturally waved locks, and adventurous ways of using the fruits of mother earth to fashion a fresh tunic. The hippies of the 1970s jumped on their VW bandwagons next with flares, wafty fabrics, braided headbands and psychedelic prints. Roll up the mid-noughties when the most extensive embracing of “Californian alternative commune chic” took place after Sienna Miller was paparazzi-ed in gypsy skirts, Aztec prints and straw trilby hats. From Glastonbury to Coachella, looking like you were a marijuana-smoking, St Barths-tanning, music festivalling, flower fairy was suddenly haute.
The mass adoption of Free-Spirit-Chic arguably had some very Eco-friendly effects. It triggered that back to nature Wholefoods attitude, made a summer filled with Passion Pit gigs a prerequisite to existence and prepared urban minds for the post-recession onslaught of vintage and thrift. While the original boho movement may have changed our habits, and seemingly disappeared around the same time that Cameron came to power, it lives on, still, in bohemian-luxe
Nowadays, bohemian-luxe is achieved in much subtler ways, but in many more places – on the pavements of Chelsea and raving fields of Bestival – it is no longer reserved for Jerry Hall and Jimi Hendrix, though it is the preserve of the privileged. It is the ultimate earthy, stylish, cashmere-swathed statement of personality and sophistication, a way of feeling at one with the mass, but remaining decidedly niche. The new way to wear boho is in the lining of a leather bag, flash of a patterned belt, paired with or printed on classics and adorning your feet. Boho-luxe hair is now less centre-parted, artfully mussed up do, and more voluminous blow-dried done. Make-up is dewy and important, but crucially au natural. Fundamentally, Bohemian-luxe always looks glamorous, but it never looks like you’ve tried.
The Milano fashion brand Missoni remains the bohemian-luxe label of choice thanks to wearable collections in their trademark Quality-Street-coloured print, and beautifully shot campaigns that epitomise the words slinky, floaty, easy in sartorial form. Indeed, the way the family-run business stays true to its knitwear and 1970s roots, renders its image deliciously wholesome and authentically bohemian of the Ibiza/ Jagger strand. Tribal and “hippie” inspirations emanate from every collection, however clashing prints provide a Meadham Kirkhoff-style modern twist. Nonetheless, Missoni avoids Boden connotations with an array of sizzling campaigns and an effortlessly chic muse and representative in the form of Margharita Missoni.
Missoni Spring/ Summer 2011 campaign (left) and Margharita Missoni (right).
Missoni Spring/ Summer 2013 and Autumn/ Winter 2013/14 catwalks.
Gisele Bundchen in a Missoni campaign.
Missoni Spring/ Summer 2011 and Spring/ Summer 2012 catwalks.
Margharita Missoni in a Missoni campaign.
Missoni Autumn/ Winter 2009/10 campaign.
The popularity of Navajo, Aztec and tribal in recent seasons has demonstrated a continued desire for an edginess and androgyny from womenswear in fashion. Indeed, when these prints are displayed on feminine silhouettes they roar fashion-forward sophistication, and paired with classic separates provide stunning statements. The sartorial contrast between the earthy origin of the prints and the clean-cut lines and neutral palette they are styled with, perfectly encapsulates bohemian-luxe in its urban, everyday form.
French Vogue editor, Emmanuelle Alt, with her assistant Geraldine Saglio.
Geraldine Saglio in Isabel Marant’s Navajo Renell jeans.
Navajo Print Clutch by Sew Sarah R
Navajo Print Shirt
Blake Lively in Marchesa Resort 2011 at Fashion’s Night Out in New York.
Tribal Print Shorts
Models backstage at Tsumori Chisato Spring/ Summer 2010.
Accessories designed with heavy use of bright hues and exotic designs, are how bohemian-luxe still dominates. Printed rucksacks, drawstring bags and ballet flats are clever indicators to the trend. Indeed, a number of brands have been launched in response to the demand for unique, special pieces – in short, carefully crafted clothing and accessories for the niche, personal market. Bengo Belts is such a label, stocking beautiful statement belts, hand-made in Kenya and Guatemala, and sold to an exclusive crowd at select locations including Guards and Cowdray polo clubs. Another established label with an eye on the elite bohemian-luxe market is Penelope Chilvers who’s shoes already heel many a King’s Road brunette. Their latest collection naturally contains a sensible dose of Aztec.
Bengo Belt’s current campaign.
Prince William in a tribal-inspired belt while on a royal tour of Canada.
The Bengo Belt range.
Bengo Belt as styled by Beth Chapman
Penelope Chilvers’ Dandy Slipper in Fuschia Tequila
Indeed, nowadays bohemian-luxe is less a fast fashion trend, more a way of life – an organic, free spirited, sun-drenched glamorous one. However, unlike a quilt of Chanel or a dash of red Louboutin, boho-luxe makes you feel more in touch with nature, more in tune with life. In fact it turns you psychologically into a barefoot Neanderthal. Did they not say fashion went round in circles?