Haute Hippie: Haute Couture Meets La Bohème
The outfits from the 2015 Resort Wear Collection in the windows at Haute Hippie on Madison Avenue make me do a double-take. Straightaway, the word ‘Haute’ triggers thoughts of haute couture and of Coco Chanel--especially since I'm reading Rhonda Garelick’s incredibly well-researched and engaging biography: Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History.
On the other hand, 'Hippie’ brings to mind Haight Ashbury in the 60s--the tie-dyed t-shirts, the colorful head scarves, and the sweaters and jackets layered over ankle-length skirts. This duo in the window deserves further consideration.
The mannequin to the right, for instance, wears a Tuxedo-style dress in a soft white. Chanel would approve of the simple lines, the double-breasted front-button closure, and the military references. She coined all of these ideas and stayed with them until her dying day. What's more, she would have loved the mesh neck-piece made of rows of shimmering crystals and finished with fringe.
Coco was the first to champion costume jewelry, because she felt it offered the masses a chance to buy spectacular pieces, pieces that looked as though they cost a king's ransom, at affordable prices. (She actually had pieces that cost a king's ransom and thought nothing of copying them.)
As for the outfit on the other mannequin, it's the embodiment of hippie chic. Note the elegant chiffon floor-length skirt and ruffled blouse, layered with a tailored jacket, metallic inserts at the shoulders. It’s ‘hippie’ yes, but it's also consummately feminine. Coco once said that there is nothing new in the world of fashion, that it all goes back to the Greeks. That designers merely create variations on a theme.
Lovely variations, I might add. In another window sits the enchanting piece above, but let's be practical: when would I wear it, other than on New Year's Eve? At this point I realize that the windows have done their job; I go on in.
Between the softly draped fabrics, the sequin-spiked gowns, asymmetrical hemlines, and zebra print silk jumpsuits, the place drips with Old Hollywood glamour. So much so that I expect Grace Kelly to walk out of the dressing room any minute.
A sales manager explains that Haute Hippie was launched in 2008 by Trish Wescoat Pound to reflect her nomadic lifestyle. Is she French? She’s not. Originally from Oklahoma—note the longhorns over the mirror, the pony prints—she often travels to France and, indeed, all over the world seeking inspiration for her collections. In fact, all of the beading is done in India.
What’s more the collections have themes. The fall collection was based on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights and another on Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Haute Hippie offers luxurious well-tailored clothes for what they call the ‘Ro-Bo’— a rock ‘n’ roll bohemian woman. I don’t know if I qualify, but I certainly can imagine myself wearing one of the leather jackets layered over a ‘husband’ shirt and a pair of slacks. Or a cashmere wrap draped over a long sweater with a pair of leggings. Either would look amazing when traveling. The clothing is designed to be comfortable, feminine, and with an edge. (Look closely. Do you notice anything odd in the photo to the left?)
An edge, I ask, like what? Like that black belt on the white chiffon outfit. Dress to impress is the philosophy behind Haute Hippie, and their clothing--flirty, feminine and well-tailored—is meant to help you do just that.
Wanting to see more, I went on-line. The collections are sold at many places including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Nordstrom. I fell in love with an ivory turtleneck sweater dress that had camel-colored leather inserts at the shoulder; originally $595, it was reduced to $356. SOLD OUT. Then I took a fancy to an intricately detailed suede blazer with plenty of fringe. SOLD OUT. Maybe next season.
So let me ask you, would you have been tempted by the windows, as was I, to go in? By the way, what we call window shopping, the French call 'slurping the windows.' What's your style? Are you more haute or more hippie? Or a little bit of both?