Along with having written a mystery set during the Vietnam War, author Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive and a woman with a penchant for fashion, something she shares with us today. Learn more about Kay at her website.
I adore fashion. I can’t help it. It’s genetic. Both my grandmothers and my mother enjoyed clothes, jewelry, and dressing up. At the age of ten I had a weekly hair appointment at a salon. Shopping trips to the big city of Wichita from my hometown of 12,000 were a monthly highlight. In early years Mother and I even donned gloves for the 25-mile trip. When my Texas grandmother took me to the original Neiman Marcus in downtown Dallas, I almost swooned.
Flash forward to the eighties. Shoulder pads make the scene. Love at first sight! They helped balance my proportions, counteracting my hips. My mother, however, distained shoulder pads. “They’re from the forties, and I can’t get excited about styles I wore before.”
I didn’t understand. How could she be so stuffy?
Flash forward to this new millennium. Boho chic arrives. But it’s all sixties fashion to me. Retro hippie would be an even better name.
The first time I saw bellbottom trousers in an issue of Vogue several years back, I groaned. Oh, that will never catch on again, I mused to myself, throwing the magazine aside in disgust. Then came the beads, the peasant blouses and all the other hippie accoutrements. The only thing I’ve not seen in redux-land is a version of my old macramé purse. (Note from Anastasia: be on the lookout for a macramé comeback.)
Soon celebrities in the under thirty-five age group staked out hippie chic as their own look. Try an online search of images for Nicole Richie, Sienna Miller, and fashion stylist and designer Rachel Zoe. Every image of them is heavily influenced by the sixties. Nicole even wears macramé occasionally. (Another note from Anastasia: See?)
At first, like my mother twenty-five years ago, I spurned the return of styles I’d worn before. But boho chic gained strength and crept into more and more clothes.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Stairway Press of Seattle just published my debut mystery set in the sixties. Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery features a young woman who gets swept along by the tides of history during that turbulent time. The choice of cover was tricky. The design had to evoke the Vietnam War era without turning off potential readers. Real photos from the period are too grungy, but countless current pictures are for sale of young women dressed like hippies. We picked one of those, and the result has drawn raves.
To get in the right mood to discuss my book at signings, I always wear blouses just like I wore back then and throw on some beads and ethnic-y earrings to complete the effect. Lucky for me, these days there’s no dearth of such clothes and jewelry to choose from.
Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery
Austin Starr, homesick Texas bride of a Vietnam War activist, must prove her husband didn’t murder a fellow draft resister in Canada, the black-sheep son of a U.S. Senator. When the Mounties are convinced David Starr is guilty and jail him, Austin must find the real killer or risk losing everything.