Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The History of Bohemian Style....and 10 tips for going Boho...

Bohemian (/bəʊˈhmɪən/) refers to a resident of the former Kingdom of Bohemia, either in a narrow sense as the region of Bohemia proper or in a wider meaning as the whole country, now known as the Czech Republic. In English, the word "Bohemian" was used to denote the Czech people as well as the Czech language before the word "Czech" became prevalent.[1]
In a separate meaning derived from the French word referring to "gypsies," or Romani people, "Bohemian" may also denote "a socially unconventional person, especially one who is involved in the arts." (see Bohemianism).[1]
Understanding the history of gypsies, and so called Bohemian style means understanding the roots and origin of those who were it's earliest proponents, so here are a few interesting facts.
Romany Gypsies, unlike the Irish Travellers featured in the series and book 'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding', are said to have originated in India, arriving in Europe in about the 13th century.
Perhaps this explains the heavy Indian and Moroccan influence.
 Source: Morocco World News
There's a nod to the Arabian Nights in Bohemian décor too, with floaty curtains in jewelled colours, satin and silk cushions, rich rugs underfoot and carved details featured on furniture and knick knacks.
 Source Unknown: If this is your picture please advise so I can give you credit
The love of the colour and luxury of those styles was possible further influenced by the rise of the Baroque era (1600-1700) in Europe which favoured grandeur and detail in art and décor, and later by the Rococo period from about the 1720's onwards. Rococo is the style we frequently associate with Marie Antoinette.
Here are some artworks of those eras. You can clearly see the modern day interpretations of this style in Gypsy and Bohemian décor all over the world. The rich colours, sumptuous fabrics, stunning detail and love of gilt and crystal is evident.
Josefa Obidos (1630-1684) Still Life Baroque Era
Giovanni Michel Graneri 'The Royal Theatre in Turin' (1708-1762) Baroque Era
Softer pastels and wasp waisted, full skirted and completely over the top fashion featured in this era as well, and is familiar in the prevalence of this type of costuming for 'gypsies' to this day.
Cherubs, vines, florals and whimsy perhaps originated within the 'Bohemian' style, right about the mid 1700s, as seen in one of my all time favourite works of art, The Swing...
Jean-Honore` Fragonard The Swing (1767) Rococco Era
There's a nod to the Pre-Raphaelite era too, and in fact the Hippy decade of the 60's, when I was born, was largely influenced by those painters.
"The London art dealer Jeremy Maas reflected in the mid-1980s that "there [was] no question that the Hippy [sic] movement and its repercussive influence in England owed much of its imagery, its manner, dress and personal appearance to the Pre-Raphaelite ideal ... It was observed by all of us who were involved with these exhibitions [of pre-Raphaelite paintings] that visitors included increasing numbers of the younger generation, who had begun to resemble the figures in the pictures they had come to see."
Of course the freedom generated by the rebellious 'hippies' of the 60's, meant that more young people travelled extensively and inexpensively, which pretty much meant 'to India'. Those influences are seen even now in Hippie style décor.
  So what does all this tell us about Bohemian Style and how to achieve it?
Here are a few ideas that I've drawn from my research.
1. Minimalism is out. Abundance is essential. You want to almost feel cocooned by your treasures.
2. You need to love a chaos of colour, have a romance with texture, a love of rustic. Soft and worn wins over new and glossy every time.
3. Forget the shopping mall. Sure they do Boho, but they're kind of missing the point. Boho is about things with a history. Not new and crisp and expensive and straight from Walmart or Pillow Talk.
4. The markets are your friend. As are yard sales, garage sales, second hand stores, eBay and school fetes. Most of the beautiful things in my daughters very Boho bedroom have been sourced from those places.
5. Think artistic and unusual and unique and vintage. If YOU love it, there's no reason why it shouldn't have a place in your home and heart. There are no rules, as such.
6. Paint and patch is the name of the game. If it isn't perfect, then it has all the more charm. And when I say 'paint', I don't mean white. Colour is IN.
7. One mans 'ugly', is another womans 'Bohemian'. I bought this painting on eBay for my daughters Boho bedroom....
 My son, who collected it for me, thought I was mad because it was old and faded. But isn't that the whole idea?
8. If you can't afford furniture, Boho is your friend. Cover boxes with colourful saris and rugs, and you have bedside tables, a mattress on the floor with a thrifted bedspread over it is fine as a bed, ugly lamps covered with silk scarves lend your space a jewelled look by night, and mismatched chairs and crockery are practically compulsory!
9. Did I say rugs? Rugs underfoot, be they new or old, give a sense of the Maharaja in us all. Just make sure you stick with traditional patterns like this...
..these are now available in all price points and give a sense of luxury.
10. Finally...all those things that hide in your wardrobe and jewellery box? Get them out and put them on display. From kimonos, to necklaces and beads and jewels of all kinds, to scarves and beaded bags. They're all fodder for wall art in the Boho home. Who needs to hang a masterpiece when you can decorate your walls with your own personal possessions.
So off you go....get Boho-ing!

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