The Big Bang

Partaking of LSD was central to the hippie credo, and the outlandish clothes of the hippies disseminated the psychedelic sensibility. Flowing shapes seemed to relate to the unbinding of restrictions unloosed by the hallucinogenic experience. The prevalence of tactile fabrics in hippie fashions spoke to the sense-enhancing properties of the acid trip. Most visible were its innovations in palette and imagery: equally provocative vibrating patterns and colors. Certain traditional motifs—the amoebalike crawl of Indian paisley, for example—were appropriated as psychedelic imagery. The accoutrements included face painting in Day-glo neon colors that recreated the incandescence of acid chimeras. But the principal topos of psychedelic fashion were portraits of light as it was fractured, made mobile by the lens of the acid trip. The awakened kineticism of light made flat surfaces seem to churn and roil. Colors bled, emulsified, and merged kaleidoscopically.

LSD existed for thirty years before reaching the widespread cultural acceptance and curiosity it aroused during the 1960s. Similarly, slightly before the apogee of psychedelic fashion in the mid to late 1960s, fashion inspired by the oscillatory geometries of op art deployed a pleasurable hoodwinking of perceptual faculties. Psychedelic experience and psychedelic fashion's incongruous reshuffling of identifiable reference points recalled surrealistic art and Dada, which also were the progenitors to some extent of pop art. Pop art functioned in the 1960s as its own sometimes surreal rebuke to nonrepresenta-tional abstract expressionism.

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