Handmade fashion in an american counterculture
Michael Cepress, creator and curator of the exhibition COUNTER-COUTURE, has devoted the past 15 years of his life to the steady pursuit and celebration of unsung icons, legends, and makers of America's 1960s and 1970s counterculture fashion scene. A passionate devotion to the importance of this era has brought Cepress to locate the counter-culture’s key players, document their stories, and unearth the designs that created the cultural Renaissance of this period. His vision for this traveling museum exhibition aims to share the stories of his research as he navigated the back roads and attics of countless free-thinking American enclaves in search of the best and the brightest fashion pieces from this remarkable era.
Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture celebrates the handmade fashion and style of the 1960s and 1970s. Often referred to as the hippie movement, the Counterculture swept away the conformism of the previous decade and professed an alternative lifestyle whose effects still resonate today. Moved by the rejection of a materialist and consumerist interpretation of the American Dream, Counterculture youths embraced ideals of self-sufficiency and self-expression. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War protests and the civil rights movements, hippies, flower children, and idealistic young people shunned the cultural standards of their parents, embraced the struggle for racial and gender equality, used drugs to explore altered states of consciousness, and cultivated a renewed dimension of spirituality.
The pursuit of a personal style proved a transcendental tool toward self-realization, enlightenment, and freedom from conventions. Counter-Couture exhibits garments, jewelry, and accessories by American makers who crafted the very reality that they craved, on the margins of society and yet at the center of an epochal shift. The works on display encompass the ethos of members of a generation who fought for change by sewing, embroidering, quilting, patch-working, and tie-dyeing their identity. Putting the handmade at the center of their daily revolution, they embraced and contributed to establishing a craft and folk sensibility in a seminal moment for the development of American Craft.
Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture was organized by Bellevue Arts Museum, Bellevue, Washington, and curated by Guest Curator Michael Cepress. It was secured for the Museum of Arts and Design by William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator Shannon R. Stratton with the support of Assistant Curator Barbara Paris Gifford.
"The exhibit “Counter-Couture: Handmade Fashion in an American Counterculture,” at the Museum of Arts and Design, celebrates this incredible moment in the history of fashion. The minute you arrive on the fourth floor and hear Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane singing, “One generation got old, one generation got soul, this generation got no destination to hold, pick up the cry!” you are reminded that this revolution was taking place not just in closets, but in the streets. Whether you were spending your days protesting the Vietnam War or just lolling around getting high and thinking about communes and karma, you were likely dressing in outfits your parents could not have imagined in their worst nightmares." VOGUE Magazine, April 2017.
ARTISTS INCLUDED: Alex and Lee, Apple Cobbler, Linda Bacon, Shari E. Wolf Boraz, Victoria Bradshaw, Nacio Jan Brown, Laurel Burch, 100% Birgitta (Birgitta Bjerke), Nina Jean Carisi, Jill Nordfors Clark, Marian Clayden, Sas Colby, Leslie Correll, Christopher Crookedstitch, Cuca/RAL West, Mary Eaton, Michael Fajans, Patricia Farber, Gretchen Fetchen (Paula Douglas), Wavy Gravy, Fayette Hauser, Nina Huryn, Bliss Israel, Eric Johannsen, Kathleen Kelly, Esmerelda Kent, Scrumbly Koldewyn, Margaux Kirsch and Elia Haworth, Candace and Fred Kling, Dina Knapp, Neshama Franklin, Alexandra Jacopetti Hart, Jean Cacicedo Leach, Zubin Levy, Janet Lipkin, The Love Israel Family, K Lee Manuel, Anna Polesny, Yvonne Porcella, Rose Powers, Barbara Ramsey, Jahanarah Romney, Mary Ann Schildknecht, Star Shields, Billy Shire, The Source Family, Susan Van Brunt, Sandra and Ben Van Meter, Kaisik Wong