The Gypsy In My Soul

Fashion insiders are often on the same wave length, and accused of having a herd mentality (“Great minds think alike”?). But it’s understandable why that is. After all, we are all under “the influence”, so to speak. We all sit through the same fashion shows, read the same columns, and pour over the same fashion magazines. We collectively make our livings (and amuse ourselves) owing to a desire and ability to pick up on the most subtle or seismic shifts and changes in the cultural zeitgeist, and within fashion’s mood. I venture to say that all of us welcome these periodic shifts and find the constant changes and fluctuations in fashion to be appealing on many levels.

It’s a given, that when one trend appears for awhile, there will be a shift to its polar opposite. Everything old is new again and fashion is a revolving wheel. Whenever something is absent for awhile, the novelty of it practically insures that it will seem appealing once again (absence makes the heart grow fonder). Which is why I detest when so called ‘fashion experts’ advise people to “throw out anything they haven’t worn for 6 months”  — as if that time frame is some sort of divine rule of thumb. What a joke and how irresponsible! If fashion history proves anything, it’s that it all comes back, and no, not necessarily in a different form. Nothing is ever IN or OUT. And if you buy great, distinctive items, regardless of what they are, or what category they fit into, they will always look great and can always be integrated into your wardrobe.

Case in point: the so called rebirth of what is being touted as “Gypsy Chic”. It’s not only been spotted on some of the world’s most influential runways (Givenchy and Altuzarra, among them), but on the street, AND on some of the chicest Vogue editors. It will be the focus of an editorial in the upcoming August issue of Vogue, and it was the subject of a front page article in the Thursday Styles section of The New York Times (“Joining the Gypsy Caravan”, by Ruth La Ferla).

ABC Carpet & Home’s accessories personify Gypsy Chic
(Click on image for larger view)

Ms. La Ferla described how some of Vogue’s top taste makers, such as’s Candy Pratts Price, have recently shifted from a pared down, classic, and chicly minimalist uniform (defined by Hermes cuffs and Celine chokers), to something far more free spirited, chaotic, individualistic, and eccentric. Exemplified by an un abandoned pile on of bracelets, necklaces, and rings, as well as the unexpected clash of prints and use of strong colors. I am not in the least bit surprised that this look is gaining momentum. In the first place, everything gets old, stale, and boring after awhile, even the best fashion looks, particularly if they’re unapologetically uptight and controlled. It’s human nature to want to change to something that is quite the opposite. In this case, something that is less controlled, more spontaneous, and a bit eccentric.

Iris Apfel personifes the “Gypsy Chic” look
(click image for larger view)

Plus, it’s the summertime; a time when we all want to escape from reality and the mundane, and get away to someplace exotic, free, and easy, even if it’s only in our minds. If we can’t literally get away, we can at least dress the part, which is almost as good (well, sort of). There’s an undeniable laid back ease and free wheeling spirit that defines elements of “Gypsy Chic”, and it’s easy to understand it’s appeal. In the same way that Katie Holmes broke free of a restrictive marriage, many woman have the periodic desire to break free of their self imposed restrictive wardrobes. There’s no better time than now. By the way, I would like to point out that Iris Apfel can be considered the poster gal for this aesthetic and there’s nobody who carries it off better or with such aplomb!

Marilyn with oversized necklaces and Magid straw bag
(Click image for larger view)

Coincidentally, weeks before this article was posted, and prior to the Haute Couture shows in Paris, I felt the urge to adorn my usually minimalist summer wardrobe and make it more interesting and a bit more, well, eccentric and colorful. I began by layering huge gold toned necklaces (the bigger, and nosier the better) and then I went into my closet to resurrect one of my all time favorite purchases: an enormous vintage Magid straw bag purchased on  that literally defines the essence of “Gypsy Chic”. I’ve never seen another quite like it. It is lined in red felt, top stitched in orange thread on black trim, decorated with mirrors, colorful yarn, ribbons, metallic decals, gold coins, and it has two bells, which make it rather obnoxiously noisy whenever I move it (See photo top of article). It never fails to elicit stares and compliments (from infants to grown ups) and almost everyone comments on it and asks about its origins. I have carried it year round (it’s most unexpected in the winter time) and it immediately transports me to somewhere else, and puts a smile on my face (and on the face of others). Isn’t that what fashion is all about?

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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