Who were the original “Bohemians”?
Beautiful metal jewelry embellished with gemstones and tribal designs, colorful handmade clothing and ethnic tribal music and dance. These were the characteristics of the gypsy travelers of Medieval Europe whose origins were unclear to the ordinary people who would watch the colorful visitors with excitement, disbelief and awe. Some people thought they were Egyptian and called them “gypsy” while others assumed they were from Bohemia (today, the Czech Republic) and called them “bohemians”.
What is “Bohemian Fashion” today?
The ancient Bohemians in Europe were the first group of people to really stand out in European society with a culture and way of life completely different from the norm. “Bohemian” became a term for almost anything colorful, unique and different. Turkish rugs, Indian tapestries, Tibetan jewelry, and many more cultural artifacts were referred to as “bohemian” when they first entered Europe and the United States.
During the hippie movement of the 1960’s and 70’s, a new and invigorated youth confronted mainstream society with a culture of their own. Their style was unlike anything ever seen before. Drawing inspiration from Indian, Chinese, Native American, Gypsy and many other cultural styles, the hippies blended a million cultural murals into one mosaic, a kaleidoscope of world culture. And just as mainstream Medieval Europe confused the origin of the Gypsy people, so too the mainstream American people were confused about where the hippie culture came from. One response caught on, they are “bohemian”.
Since the 1960’s and 1970’s, Bohemian culture has spread beyond the seeds planted by the hippie movement. Today, ethnic, tribal, colorful, gypsy, bohemian fashion refers to the jewelry, clothes and accessories which make a statement of standing beyond the norms of mainstream society and declaring something new and free. The many cultures of the world are available for us to enjoy and appreciate.