I have to say that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my cousins favourite movies. Why? Heck I don’t know. But I do know that it’s influenced many a hippy males dress sense. I had a teacher in high school once who loved his hawaiian hibiscus short sleeved shirts, and all the students teased him that he got dressed in the dark every morning, but it was a trend. One that many follow and here with Saint Augustine Academy, head designer Alvin Manalo shows why.
For the S/S11-12 collection, Saint Augustine Academy have drawn inspiration from Thom Wolfe’s seminal book, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Published in 1968, Wolfe’s opus is widely considered to be the most defining tome of Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco; a place which is recognised as the epicentre of the hippie movement.
The central characters in the book are a group of Beat Poet graduates who were some of the very first to experiment with Psychedelics: The Merry Pranksters. The group famously rode a “Magic Bus” from San Francisco to New York to spread their message of love. Particular sections of the book are also referenced, including the Pranksters’ close association with The Hells Angels; a brief, but poignant cameo by The Rolling Stones; and an almost modern take on the Wild West, where the book’s protagonists are hunted by the FBI in Mexico.
For the Love & Haight collection, Manalo has successfully combined the aggressive/hard-edge style of bikies with the ethereal, mystic and organic layering of the hippies. The Rolling Stones late-60’s style is also visited, along with a cast of the women around them, like Marianne Faithful and Bianca Jagger. Other style references come in the form of early psychedelic bands like The Grateful Dead, 13th Floor Elevators, Jefferson Airplane and The Band.
Saint Augustine Academy designer Alvin Manalo says, “I really wanted to explore the originality of the way these people dressed at the time, without making a collection of dress up costumes. The trick was finding a balance between referencing the late 60s and giving it a modern interpretation, without losing focus of what inspired my designs in the first place.”
For menswear, Saint Augustine Academy introduced several exciting new silhouettes including high waisted denim flares, cuffed chinos and a triple pleat three-quarter pant dubbed ‘The Beachcomber”. Manalo has augmented his classic slim-fit shirting for S/S with a range of new treatments including pin tucks, epaulettes, ruffled plackets, scarf collars and leather fringing. Elements that really round out the men’s offering are the paisley prints, Biker and Mystic motif tees, and the safari motorcycle jacket.
The colour palette is less reflective of Wolfe’s psychadelic journey with Malano instead choosing more wearable neutral tones in the form of khaki, tan ochre, ivory and blush. Navy, gold and hazy greys rounded off what is considered to be the labels most subversive colour palette to date.