Summer Of Love | Valentina Cirasola | Designer

Welcome to another episode of Friday Fashion. This is a trip in the ’60s era and what a trip it it.
(Click on each photo to view it larger).

“Turn on, tune in, drop out” a famous counterculture-era phrase popularized by Timothy Leary in 1966. He spoke at the Human Be-In, a gathering of 30,000 hippies in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco where he pronounced the famous phrase. In his album with the same title Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out, recorded in 1966, we can hear his views about the world, humanity, nature, about adopting native American Indian symbolism, the meaning of inner life, the LSD experience, about keeping peace and many other issues, which afflicted youth.

And that was the atmosphere of the ‘60s, a “trip without a ticket”. The counterculture movement led by artists, poets, writers, musicians, designers and performers was an expression of arts as much as it was a political movement. San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury district became the center of the hippie’s movement. In 1967, The Summer Of Love event attracted as many as 100,000 young people from all over the country, protesting against political and social issues, the Vietnam war, social injustice and challenged the mainstream American society.

Making colorful posters with “trippy” graphics and bold colors became one of the arts of the counterculture movement in the ‘60s. Music events, gatherings, life expressions, drugs, fashion, free love, everything was publicized with posters attached from wall to ceiling in stores frequented by attentive hip crowds. DeYoung Museum did the same in this exhibition and dedicated a couple of large rooms to posters.

In these rooms one feels the commotion and confusion of the era. The baby boomers visiting the exhibition relived the decade as it was yesterday. I could hear some people singing along or repeating famous phrases pronounced in video clips of the era. “Sitting On The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding resonated throughout a few rooms and a few people danced to that tune. The psychedelic room was a “trip”. Bean bags on the floor invited to lay down and listen to music, relax and relive the Summer Of Love in full colors.

Say it with a button, or better attach as many buttons as you like on your clothes and pass on the message. Political buttons personalized the clothes of The Summer Of Love to let the bourgeoisie know how the youth felt about things they rejected and were no longer valid for that generation of the ‘60s. Messages on the buttons using satire, criticism and emphasizing the “good effect” of drugs were very clear.

(“Big Smith” jacket, circa 1970 by Jean Stewart)

Many of the youth of the ‘60s suffered confusion, anxieties and panic attacks. Psychiatric wards saw an increased in young adults hospitalized for a “bad trip” as it was described. To cure and to keep such patients distracted from their confusion, hospitals involve them in the making of elaborated embroidered hospital scrubs. This one below is a beautiful example of the intricate work done by hospitalized youth.

(Hospital scrub – Circa 1968 – Cotton plain weave with cotton embroidery from the collection of Arthur Leeper and Cynthia Shaver).

Fashion too marked the era. It was a non-conventional fashion, extravagant, colorful, geometric and free-flowing, aiming to liberate women from constriction of corsets and girdles of the previous decades. Many designers took inspiration from Bohemian life, native American Indian style and various ethnicities, adding denim to all the new natural fabrics ever used before. Denim represented the working-class fabric, it was durable, affordable and it meant rejection from the middle-class upbringing, thus denim mania became the counterculture look.

Crochet clothes returned strong from the past. Both women and men wore lace, appliquéd fabric, embroiders, fringes, tie-dye, silk screened clothes, hand painted shoes, colors and crochet garments became unisex, corroborated by button pins with messages mocking society. Everything and anything was fashionable as long as it was colorful.

(All work of art displayed are from the permanent collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco).

Not only in San Francisco. Youth of the ‘60s took upon themselves the counterculture revolution to change and transform societies all over the western world. A lot of the policies of today would have been unimaginable without the ‘60s visionaries.

(All photos taken in the De Young Museum by ©Valentina Cirasola).

However, almost sixty years later, all is to be questioned again. The kids and grandkids of that generation are still seeing wars, hatred and politicians making personal profits from their positions at the expense of people who work for the nations. Natural food so much wanted by that generation is almost inexistent, diseases related to artificial food are rampant, social injustice is still here and fashion…..well, there is nothing new, doesn’t teach individuality and it is not making any statement.

The Summer Of Love exhibition at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco is well researched and worth the visit. It is an inspiration for the youth of today. It will be open until Aug.20, 2017 and if you are in the area, don’t miss it. Ciao,


Copyright © 2017 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

I am Valentina, a trained Fashion and Interior Designer, born in Italy in a family of artists. Style has surrounded me since the very beginning of my life. My many years of experience in design business led me to offer consultations in both fashion and interiors, so much so that I can remodel homes as well as personal images. I am passionate about colors and I encourage my clients to express their individual style in their homes and with the clothes they wear. I am the author of three books, one of which is a book on color theory: ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors available on


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