Flowing fabrics, captivating colors, gorgeous embellishments—and a penchant for not following the rules—are the hallmarks of bohemian style. Fun and fancy-free, inspired and inspiring, boho looks transcend fashion to a holistic lifestyle choice. You may be thinking of the feathers, strappy sandals and nebulous skirts that are the uniform de rigueur at trendy festivals, but the boho vibe dates back much further than this and is filled with deeper meaning.
Getting its start following the French Revolution, when artists were no longer supported by aristocratic patrons and left to support themselves, a nomadic lifestyle and repurposing of old clothing led to individuality and the birth of an artistic counterculture. At the same time, refugees from the Bohemia region (today’s Czech Republic) were known in France, and these “Bohemian Homeless”—or “BoHo”—with their gypsy skirts, layered clothing and carefree ways added another dash of flavor to this newly formed lifestyle.
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Bohemian (or Lise the Bohemian), 1868
The Aestheticism art movement followed in the mid-1800s, and with its “art for art’s sake” approach came fashion that eschewed the Industrial Revolution of the time. Handmade, individual clothing that took lead from old techniques included plenty of embroidery—a philosophy ZALXNDRA also follows, particularly in our hand-embroidered Tradition Collection. In Paris’s Montmartre, now-famous masters such as Picasso and Renoir lived and painted—a place and time depicted in films like Baz Luhrmann’s lush Moulin Rouge!, with its artists and oddballs and dreamers celebrating the romance and creativity of the era. Over in London, Victorian author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s eccentric intellectual detective from the turn of the century, Sherlock Holmes, is written as having a “bohemian soul.”
Le Moulin Rouge en 1905
Hippies of the 1960s- and 70s-era counterculture brought boho into the more modern times, listening to their nomadic desires to follow the so-called “Hippie Trail.” Usually starting in London or Amsterdam, the route passed through Hungary, Greece (also the perfect spot for our latest photoshoot), Turkey, Nepal, India and Thailand—a paradise that’s just the place to explore in something from our breezy Resort Collection. Dressed and accessorized in a mishmash of exotic and beautiful clothing picked up along the way, the look was eclectic, comfortable and told a personal story.
1960-70s Real Hippie Fashion
Today, bohemian culture has infiltrated the mainstream. Art and individualism are celebrated and celebrities such as Bianca Jagger, Sienna Miller, Lenny Kravitz and Jane Birkin—so stylish she became the namesake for Hermès’s sought-after Birkin bag—are icons of boho-chic. Festivals such as Coachella, Glastonbury and Burning Man are known to sell out in under an hour (Glastonbury 2018 sold out in a record 34 minutes), with tens-to-hundreds of thousands of people convening on field and playa to appreciate the arts with bohemian joie de vivre.
The contemporary boho life isn’t just for festivals; the concept has widened and evolved to include a more sophisticated and thoughtful side—something we like to champion with our elegant, environment-conscious dresses. This boho lifestyle is for, like its revolutionary pioneers, the dreamers and creatives among us—whether that’s dancing under the moonlight with likeminded revelers or enjoying the view from a luxury suite clinging to Santorini’s caldera edge.