Boho-chic is a style of fashion drawing on various bohemian and hippie influences, which, at its height in late 2005 was associated particularly with actress Sienna Miller and model Kate Moss in England and (as “bobo” chic) actress and businesswoman Mary-Kate Olsen in the United States. It has been seen since the early 1990s and, although appearing to wane from time to time, has repeatedly re-surfaced in varying guises. Many elements of boho-chic became popular in the late 1960s and some date back much further, being associated, for example, with pre-Raphaelite women of the mid-to-late 19th century.
“BoHo” is an abbreviation of Bohemian Homeless, self descriptive of the style.Vanessa Nicholson (granddaughter of Vanessa Bell, one of the pivotal figures of the unconventional, but influential “Bloomsbury Group” in the first half of the 20th century) has described it as a “curious slippery adjective”.Although the original Bohemians were travellers or refugees from central Europe (the French bohémien translates as “Gypsy or Roma people”), the term has, as Nicholson noted,
“attached itself to individuals as disparate as Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes”. The writer and historian A. N. Wilson remarked that, “in his dress-sense as in much else”, Winston Churchill was “pre-First World War Bohemian”, his unbleached linen suit causing surprise when he arrived in Canada in 1943.
In Arthur Conan Doyle’s first short story about Holmes for The Strand, Doctor Watson noted that the detective “loathed every form of society with his whole Bohemian soul” and “remained in our lodgings in Baker-street, buried among his old books and alternating from week to week between cocaine and ambition..”.
Designer Savannah Miller, elder sister of actress Sienna Miller, described a “real bohemian” as “someone who has the ability to appreciate beauty on a deep level, is a profound romantic, doesn’t know any limits, whose world is their [sic] own creation, rather than living in a box”.”Chic” was borrowed from French in the late 19th century and has come to mean stylish or elegant.The boho look, which owed much to the hippie styles that developed in the middle to late 1960s,
became especially popular after Sienna Miller’s appearance at the Glastonbury Festival in 2004,although some of its features were apparent from photographs of her taken in October 2003 and of others living in or around the postal district of W10 (North Kensington), an area of London associated with bohemian culture since the mid-1950s.
By the spring of 2005, boho was almost ubiquitous in parts of London and was invading stores in almost every British high street. Its adherents were sometimes referred to as “Siennas”, this eponym even being applied to Miller herself: “Sienna’s Sienna-ishness”, as Jessica Brinton put it.Features included “floaty” skirts (notably long white ones),
furry gilets, embroidered tunics, cropped jackets, large faux-coin belts, sheepskin (UGG) boots and cowboy boots, baggy cardigans and “hobo bags”. Demand was so great that there were allegations the following year of some sub-contractors’ having used cheap child labour in India for zari embroidery and beading.
Footless tights or “leggings”, of which Miller was a proponent, were a contributory factor in the halving of sales of stockings in Britain between 2003 and 2007.In the autumn of 2006, The Times’ style director Tina Gaudoin observed that “when the women’s wear buyer at M[arks] & S[pencer] is quoted saying ‘boho is over’, you know the trend is well and truly six foot under.”
Even so, the so-called “folk” look of spring 2007, with its smock tops and flounce hemmed dresses, owed much to boho-chic, while embracing such trends as the re-emergence of the mini-dress: as the put it, “if you are still bemoaning the passing of the gypsy look, then the folk trend could be your saving grace”.cited the 1960s singer Mary Hopkin as influencing the use of bandannas, while, around the same time, Sienna Miller’s appearance as 1960s “starlet” Edie Sedgwick in the film Factory Girl positioned her once more as a bohemian style icon.
Many parents have also embraced the Boho Chic trends and elements to create and purchase apparel for their children. This particular trend is inspired by the casual American fashion of the 1960s, but as the counterculture included the influences of earlier time periods in its eclectic embrace of style and personal values, it often includes hints of the Victorian, a nod to the fabrics and details of the 1940s, or an homage to the intellectuals of the 1950.