A Bohemian Rhapsody : The new age avatar of an ancient Indian way of life


As journalist Bob Stanley put it, "...the late 1960s are never entirely out of fashion, they just need a fresh angle to make them de jour."

Well this observation may well be more than a decade old, but it is true not just of the spirit of the 1960's, but of nearly every milestone in the history of fashion.

Nothing ever really goes out of style, it merely needs a new twist. Just like one of the defining characteristics of the 1960's - Bohemian Chic

Bohemian Chic - The outward expression of an inward journey

And what a time the sixties must have been ! An era of change and new ideas. A time when deviation was the norm. The swinging sixties were when people decided that they only cared about things that really matter - nature, peace, prosperity, art and people.

It was also a time when denouncing fashion became a fashion of sorts.  It came to be known as Bohemian Chic under the influence of the so named hippies and free spirits. They defied the regimentation of urban social life and took a back to the roots  turn to a rural peasant lifestyle, closer to nature, closer to the self. 

Have you ever noticed how similar it is to Indian ethnic wear, in both form and feel - timeless and ever ready. Both familiar like home, to ground us during the rough and tumble of life. And that is no accident.

The historical Indian roots of Bohemian Chic that no one remembers

The gypsy lifestyle was the real precursor of the 60's Bohemian Chic- And where did these gypsies arrive from. Yes, all the way from India, in a slow migratory trickle from the 6th to the 11th century.

These people, the Romas and the Doms, were a migratory people - footloose and fancy free, lovers of a free life, refusing to be tied down to territories or borders, color or religious persuasion. The original fore-bearers of the philosophy which professed that in not giving in to the unrelenting human desire for security and stability is the only freedom one could ever hope to have. 

And with that emerged  a different aesthetic of dress in the west of the late 60's and 70's that soon spread globally and has refused to ever really disappear completely from our wardrobes.

The idea of a bohemian life may have well lost its universal appeal, but the its charm still intact, inspiring us every now and then to take a break from the norm and give in to the gypsy within - that ever restless human soul desperate to break free.

How to reclaim Gypsy style with the Desi Boho look

Though it has been proved that it is always mind that wins over matter, a look at our Bollywood bohemians will convince you that the reverse is true as well.

They may have the best of high couture at their disposal at all times, but when it comes to letting their hair down between tight shoot schedules and high stakes promotional events, they pick the familiar comfort of Indian Ethnic wear into a Desi Boho twist.  And when you see their fresh take on this centuries old trend, you will echo Mr Stanley - Bohemian chic is indeed de jour. Lets dive into the latest Boho looks that our divas created with Indian Ethnic wear this season.


Athleisure boho: Sonam Kapoor Ahuja has been the leading lady of more than just her films. She has long maintained her stance as the most stylish of them all and even though she has stiff competition from the new kids on the block she far outshines everybody else in mixing Athleisure and Indian ethnics. Having debut the trend of sneaker pairings with lehengas at her wedding reception, she once again showed how to pair a minimal pair of sneakers with another of her wardrobe staples, a tribal necklace, channeling the Indian Ethnic Boho in this simple but interesting outfit. Kudos Sonam !

Style tip: A tribal style necklace on a solid white outfit is a hard to beat combo when you want to give that Athleisure boho style.


Chic Boho: Well that is not just a casual reversal of the term, but Kiara Advani's take on the Boho-chic trend. With this all white bell bottom ensemble andsubtle boho necklace accent she shows you how to turn the dial backwards to that 70's style while still retaining a minimal chic. Wind-blown hair and minimal make-up look easy-breezy and compliment the offbeat silhouette of the all white wrap-around kurta style top with floor length bell-bottoms. 

Style Tip: Bell bottoms can be a bit overwhelming both in silhouette and dimensions, picking one in a muted solid color and pairing it with a longish kurti or top is a good way to balance the attention between the top and the pants.


 Flamenco Femme: This outfit that Jhanvi Kapoor wore to a recent awards event has all the drama of a flamenco dress and the color palette of a kalbeliya dancer's ensemble. Interestingly, the Spanish Flamenco dance has its roots in the Rajasthani kalbeliya art form and with this outfit this historic blend has reached a new level of WOW!  The paring of a regular Indian ethnic choli and skirt combo with black embroidered skinny pants adds drama to already interesting layers of colourful appliqué and pictorial prints resulting in a gypsy delight. The subtle silver choker keeps it dressy as well.

Style tip: When there is drama and detail in the outfit, go for minimal hair, makeup and jewelry.


Hippie go lucky: Tapsee Pannu is a force to reckon with not just as a performance powerhouse, the Pink hit maker is as fearless with picking her outfits as she is with picking her roles. A regular Indian Ethnic Kurta and skirt combo gets a revamp thanks to her daring turban and reckless curls. The solid beige throw and matching beige heels pull the whole look together into a coordinated outfit perfectly channeling her inner hippie. Oxidized silver hoops add the finishing touch.

Style tip: Sometimes you don't a need whole garment cut and sown to channel a certain style. Picking one staple garment or accessory from a particular style or era is enough to transform it into a whole different look like Taapsee's gypsy style turban.


Ethnic beatnik: So not surprisingly an industry disruptor of sorts, Taapsee does it once again, and mixes her bright red bandhej print tasseled peasant top with baggy beige linen pants. The tucked in top, with a tan belt,  matching tan sling bag and the tan brogues polish the entire outfit and you might think she was discussing Howl over a spirited cup of coffee .

Style Tip: This look is truly off the charts and the vibrant gypsy vibe of the top is well balanced with the studied simplicity of the linen pants. Get your hair in an up-do like Taaspsee and add small gold ear drops to keep the look footloose and fuss free.

Back to the beginning

The Indian heart and soul has traveled the world, made it home and shown the world how to free their spirit. Once a way of life in the medieval North of India, the gypsy aesthetic and philosophy now famous as Bohemian chic is more than a way of dressing.

It is a way of pushing the boundaries of our being in this world no matter where we may be.  It is a means of being free of the norm of thirsting for what we do not have and instead finding our own bliss in what we do possess, our creativity, compassion and chutzpah -

Just the elements you need to create your own  Boho avatar.


 Images courtesy : Outfits : Instagram, Jewelry : www.pure-elegance.com


Article By : Bhavna R

1 comment

  • Prometheus

    Great article!

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