The History and Evolution of Bohemian Fashion You Should Know
Boho fashion is one of the most prominent trends in recent years. It's an unusual alternative to conventional styles that has been around for more than 200 years and was first popularized during Europe’s “Romantic era," which spanned from late 18th century until early 20th Century.
This cultural movement covered a wide range of artistry, writers/thinkers - even musicians like Stevie Nicks wore it every now and then, popularizing the fashion trend.
What is Boho chic? Is it the same thing as hippie style or aesthetic dress, and what makes them so different from one another? It's all about Free-Flowing lines in colorfully patterned clothing with an unstructured shape that blends seamlessly into contemporary fashion trends!
Where would we be without choice?
For many people in the 1700s, there wasn't much of one. But when economic constraints forced them to make decisions about what they could afford and how clothes should look, a new fashion trend emerged-bohemian style! This fashion trend has a long history and is founded on a certain concept, which is explained in detail below.
The Boho fashion movement is a powerful statement against materialism and norms. The clothes themselves are an assertion of individuality, as well as being someone's first step into exploring their own personal boundaries with society's expectations!
Colorful patterns and flowing fabrics, as well as plenty of flowers and Bohemian-inspired accessories - are the characteristics that characterize the Boho-chic aesthetic, which allows individuals to express their desire to live outside of social norms and in an unconventional way.
The Boho clothing style is no stranger to celebrities. Juliette Greco was Paris's bohemian muse and a model during the postwar era. Hippie rock singer Janis Joplin rose to prominence in the late 1960s, and her music served as a symbol of liberation and individuality.
Even Jane Birkin, who is one of the most iconic fashion models and style icons in bohemian fashion history, established what would become known as "the minimalist meets bohemian look" over a decade before it became popular.
The Boho fashion trend may seem modern today, but it has been popularized over centuries by celebrities and influential people alike. Let’s go through the history of bohemian fashion starting from the 1800s to the 2000s to find out what really made it so popular over all these years.
The 1800 - Origin of Bohemian Style
After the French Revolutionary War, Europe's economy and social structure underwent tremendous changes. It was no longer possible for wealthy patrons to finance the work of artists, musicians, writers, and philosophers. This left many of them unable to afford the latest fashion items since they were left to their own resources instead of receiving assistance.
When many artists and creatives were forced into poverty as a result of the French Revolution, the Bohemians formed a counterculture in France. Their lives became more and more primitive and nomadic over time, and they began to like this lifestyle.
As a result of this, they began to wear worn clothes and mix-and-match ensembles, as well as nearly anything else they could buy. In the beginning, it was a reaction from a lower class of people, but now it has developed into a worldwide counter-culture movement.
When the art crowd and Romantics embraced medieval clothing patterns in 1830s France, they created an array of colorful linen cloaks with long flowing hair. This new style became known as bohemian attire that is still popular today- especially among celebrities who want to look like their alter ego: "Bohemians."
The 1850s - Most Prominent Bohemian Artist
In the late 19th century, Rossetti Baciata was regarded as one of the most influential bohemian painters of the day. In Bocca Baciata, his oil painting of Fanny Cornforth shows what it means to be a bohemian woman in today's society.
The late 19th century saw an outpouring of bohemian artists, writers, and musicians. One painter who took this trend to new heights was Dante Gabriel Rossetti - better known as "Dante Ghislaine." His most famous work is Bocca Baciata or ('Kissing Gate'), which features Fanny Cornforth, and shows what it means to be a bohemian woman in today's society.
All that is shown is a half-length portrait of a woman with no context or underlying message. The Venetian art of the sixteenth century is more apparent than in Quattrocento.
The 1860s - Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Pierre-Auguste Renoir was a key figure in the Impressionist movement, and his work embodies all of its most notable traits. His style is recognizable for its vibrant colors that reflect light against buildings or people walking by during daytime hours on busy streets just outside Parisian cafes.
His paintings of beautiful women and lush landscapes made Pierre Auguste Renoir an accomplished painter who helped popularize Impressionism with his focus on sensuality.
His free-spirited style seemed more showmanship than anything else, but many people were surprised to find out that he had founded the now famous impressionist movement after all!
The painter Vincent van Gogh once said that "accomplishment is the sole motive" for art, but it's clear from Renoir’s work that he didn’t agree. His characters were often at odds with their idealized ideals of happiness.
A Bohemian lifestyle didn't detract from his ability to create happiness through his profession. His earliest, most cryptic pieces, in which deciphering the joy is most challenging, best demonstrate the artifice of this state.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir's In Summer features Lise Trehot, a 20-year-old dressed in bohemian garb, as a young woman.
The 1880s - Formation of Rational Dress Society
A group of rationalists in London formed the Rational Dress Society in 1881.
According to its mission statement, the Society wanted to "deprecate frequent changes in fashion, which cannot be approved on any of these grounds," in order to help people "adopt an outfit that takes health, comfort, and beauty into account in accordance with individual taste and convenience.
Activists from the "Rational Dress Society" were the first to discover the Boho fashion movement in England, where it quickly became popular. The rest of the gang followed suit when one of its members publicly rejected an archaic corset in favor of a stunning dress with a loose shape.
The 1890s - La bohème
La Bohème is a four-act opera by Italian composer Giacomo Puccini that had its world debut on February 1st, 1896, at the Teatro Regio in Turin, Italy.
Arturo Toscanini, a talented young conductor, conducted the long-awaited premiere of La Bohème. Critics who had previously applauded the composer's Manon Lescaut and were expecting a dark and sad story were disappointed by the elegance of La Bohème's narrative.
However, the story was warmly received by the crowd and garnered a standing ovation. La Bohème quickly overtook Manon Lescaut in popularity.
Four impoverished bohemians in Paris had their lives profoundly changed on a chilly Christmas Eve. Each of these creative types has its own place to call home in the same building.
Ever since its debut, La Bohème has been an overwhelming success, earning a place among the most frequently staged operas in the world. Some of Puccini's most mature and distinctive works may be found in its many great arias and musical settings, which mark his full maturation as a writer.
The 1900s - Paul Poiret - Leading French Fashion Designer
Paul Poiret used the vocabulary of Orientalism to further expand the romantic and dramatic potential of dress, earning the nickname "Le Magnifique" from Sergei Diaghilev.
Poiret had a key role in the development of the current fashion business model that is still in use today, as well as in the establishment of the canon of modern clothes. Aside from altering the course of costume history, Poiret also steered it in the direction of modern design history.
Using beautiful, oriental-inspired clothing, he was able to liberate women from the corset. French couturier and inventor of the catwalk, he was the first to bring his own smell to the fashion industry.
Additionally, Paul Poiret has been credited with inventing the harem pants and the "lampshade" tunic, two bohemian wardrobe classics.
The 1909 - Dorelia Look - Introduced By Dorothy McNeill
Dorothy (Dorelia) McNeill (19 December 1881 – 23 July 1969) was well known as a model for Welsh painters Gwen John and Augustus John. Women who identified as Bohemians in the early twentieth century favored the "gypsy look." During her lifetime, she was regarded by some as the pinnacle of the bohemian style.
For others, Dorelia's Boho look was defined by her trademark long skirts, bright colors, and little adornment. The "gypsy look" is a word used to characterize this aesthetic.
Dorelia lived with the artist and his wife, Ida, from 1904 until 1907 after the death of Ida. Dorelia became John's common-law wife after Ida's death. In this painting, she is depicted walking barefoot while wearing a "gypsy outfit." When he started out, Dorelia was perhaps his most popular subject matter.
World War I - Revolutionized Women's Fashion (1914 - 1918)
The Great War had an impact on fashion, and it ensured the survival of women's attire by ensuring the morale of troops and preserving links with allies. Before World War I, female miners wore pants, but they would wear skirts to hide them while not working.
Popular fashion designers like Gabrielle Chanel flourished as a consequence of this time period. Her simple, no-frills designs were appropriate for the time period.
Labels like French House Lanvin, which had nine ateliers during WWI and employed a considerable number of people, were also bolstered by the war's impact on the fashion industry.
In the wake of this disagreement, women were urged to wear full-day attire and fitting suits instead of changing their clothing many times a day. It was during World War II that women's clothes began to shift from heavy materials like wool to lighter ones like silk and jersey since dyes were scarce.
The corset was phased out in favor of the bra as a consequence of the war's impact on women's fashion.
In only four years, women's fashion evolved from being frivolous to utilitarian: the 'hobble skirt,' for example, was banished, replaced by more practical styles like the trench coat. Fashion for the "flappers" (as they were known in France) began to emerge.
Yet, World War I marked a turning point for women's rights, allowing a previously unimaginable number of women to enter the workforce and explore new avenues of self-expression.
The 1920s Bohemian Fashion - Gypsy-Boho Continued
The flapper style dominated women's fashion in the 1920s, however, the bohemian look persisted thanks to the gypsies and other visitors. The fantastic lifestyle of the Roaring Twenties was enhanced by the period's fashionable attire, and this is no exception. It wasn't all glitz and glamor in the Roaring Twenties.
The clothes worn by Roma-Gypsy people in the 1920s were much plainer than that worn by the general public nowadays. Starting at the crown of her head, a woman in the Roaring Twenties would make sure her hair showed off her rebellious and flirtatious aspects.
The 1960s - Hippies - The New Fashion Style
The Bohemian movement took on a new meaning in the 1960s, one that would change fashion as we knew it forever. Fashions including ethnic outfits, embroidery, varied patterns, volume, fringe and flared forms were fashionable during the Hippie Movement's fight against established ways of life.
Despite being a separate youth movement, hippies were influential in the development of bohemian dress because of their willingness to embrace individuality.
As demonstrated in their clothing, the hippies opposed every facet of conventional values and materialism as well as existing institutions and social concepts, as seen by their clothing choices.
Fashion trends include loose, flowing fabrics, vivid scarves, tunics, boots and sandals, layering, homemade jewelry, patched or worn garments, and distinctive color combinations.
1970's - Bohemian Fashion
Individualism became increasingly popular in society in the 1970s.
For much of the 1960s and into the 1970s, feminists preached self-reliance as a key component of women's emancipation. As a result of the civil rights struggle, people were given more freedom to express themselves creatively, even via their clothing choices.
The 1970s permitted women to live their lives like itinerant gypsies (as the actual etymology of the name "Bohemian" indicates) in whatever manner they wished, regardless of what others thought.
Designer Gunne Sax had a significant impact on the 1970s Boho fashion trend. As the bohemian style was originally linked with the unconventional, it was only natural for a woman who had chosen her own route in life and art to embrace the trappings and aesthetic delights associated with persons who had discovered their own way.
The 2000s - Emergence of Boho Chic Style
Celebrities like Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, and Mary-Kate Olsen helped popularize the Boho-chic look in the mid-2000s when it first debuted in 2003.
An improved version of the bohemian style is the Boho-chic aesthetic. Bohemian chic is a synthesis of two unique fashion styles: Bohemian and chic – and as a result, it takes the original bohemian look to a more refined level of sophistication, as the name suggests.
Flowing skirts composed of floral fabrics, extravagant bell bottoms, and a carefree attitude typify the Bohemian Revival style of the 2000s. More and more people are embracing the bohemian style at music festivals like Coachella and Burning Man.
As time went on, a subculture that started as an anomaly in society evolved into an autonomous, mainstream culture. When the first wave of hipsters hit town, they were considered an oddity in their community. But as time went on and more people identified with this subculture - Majority rules!
Even though trends come and go all the time, Boho fashion is popular right now and it's likely to stay for some time to come. It's becoming more common for Boho to include looks that emphasize the feminine form.
Nevertheless, the current form of bohemian style influenced by the 1970s history of bohemian fashion, isn't going anywhere anytime soon, despite our modern-day adaptations. Bell bottoms, the go-to pant for the Boho aesthetic, should replace your tattered, loose pairs if you're thinking about going that route any time soon.