The new bohemians
H&M black and white print bomber jacket, €49.95, jeans, €59.95.
Whistles silk floral top, €105, and matching trousers, €155, with lime chain pouch, €95.
H&M white shirt with bootlace tie, €39.95, jeans, €59.95.
H&M bomber jacket, €69.95, pineapple T-shirt, €19.95. (HM items in stock from March)
H&M black leather jacket, €349, leather skirt, €179, tasselled scarf, €39.95.
Print and pattern, worn with an individual twist, are at the core of this season's new bohemian look, writes Deirdre McQuillan
Like a lot of terms that fashion hijacks so carelessly, bohemian style is a regular favourite, currently in vogue on the high street for spring 2013. HM, for example, call their collection 21st Century Bohemia, and use it as a way of describing elaborate decoration such as tasselling, fringing, billowing shirts and “sun bleached” colours. It’s an appealing mix of sporty shapes and quirky references such as voluminous skirts, embroidered waistcoats, bootlace ties and flat, chunky buckled sandals.
At Whistles the look is more streamlined and pattern mixes more subtle, but it still has a deceptively offhand air. Trousers are soft, some printed, while the key bags are luxury backpacks.
Putting together unlikely combinations of clothing and accessories in a contrary, individual way has always been an indicator of personal style, and one that the British, in particular, have perfected. Central to that is the mix of uptight traditions with teenage rebellion, according to fashion designer and commentator Luella Bartley. It explains the eccentric street style, so different from other countries.
Who made 1950s dresses, granny cardigans and old furs fashionable without looking like upholstery? The term bohemian, applied to impoverished students and artists, was in common use from the mid-19th century on, but originally referred to gypsies migrating across Europe. Artists were beguiled by their colourful and elaborate costumes and later identified with them as outsiders, as people who defied the rules of conventional society. Appearance said it all. The bohemians of the romantic movement grew their hair long, wore scarves, smocks with big collars and swirled around in black capes.
Fashion’s bohemian looks for spring are just another way of justifying a lot of pattern and print and the various sartorial distractions that they entail. HM has a striking pineapple print T-shirt, though how many times do you want to look fruity? The yellow, grey and pink tasselled scarf, however, gives dramatic impetus to a black leather jacket and skirt, while a bootlace tie lifts a slouchy white shirt worn over neutral, rinsed out patterned jeans. At Whistles, a softly tailored print twosome looks like a one-piece. It’s the mix that counts.