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A bit tight around the hippies...

EVERYONE says that if you keep your clothes long enough, they'll come back into fashion. And that's certainly true for three former hippies from the Summer of Love.

As high street stores fill up with Sixties-style kaftans, crochet waistcoats and psychedelic shirts these three have merely had to dust off their original gear...and struggle into it.

Last week we revealed how three former hippies were coping with life in the Nineties. Now three Nineties women reveal why they can't bear to kiss goodbye to their long flowing skirts, love beads and purple pantaloons - even if they are a bit tight in places.

THE FLOWER CHILD OF 1967

ANN "Flower" Fowler, 47, is a mother and housewife from Bedwas, Gwent. But in her heart she's still as she was above - a carefree hippie from the Summer of 67...

I remember going on holiday with my parents to Cornwall when I was 17 and seeing lots of hippies with flowers in their hair. I thought they were great.

I was quite an artistic type and the romantic type of clothes that the hippies wore really appealed to me.

But the best thing about being a hippie was that you didn't have to conform. We all created our own look.

I used to love this long, flowing skirt - I bought it in an Indian shop in Cardiff, where I worked as a waitress in the summer of 1967. I think it cost me a couple of pounds.

The jacket was actually a pyjama top. My great-uncle was in the Merchant Navy and he'd brought it back from China.

Hats were really trendy - either that or wearing flowers in your hair. Someone asked me once if I was a flower child because I had a red carnation in my hair and I said, `Yes', because I'd seen a Panorama documentary about them.

That summer a gang of us gave out flowers to people in the park. We probably picked the flowers from the park gardens.

I've got my face painted in the picture above. All the older hippies used to sit around and paint each other's bodies. I never got into that, but we did used to paint each other's faces. I used poster paint as eye- liner and used pastels on my face to make patterns.

I grew up near Caerphilly and we used to have parties in the woods, all sitting around playing guitars and flutes. I took my guitar - I was a right Mary Hopkin. I've thrown most of my old clothes away, but I saved these because they were my favourite, and it's like saving a little bit of history. I still wear some of them around the house - especially my kaftan.

After the Vietnam War I think the whole peace and free love thing attracted a lot of people.

Not that there was any free love in my case, but the whole idea was new to us - and that's what made it exciting.

THE PRIESTESS OF PEACE AND LOVE

KAY Silver fell in love with the hippie look when she was in her teens. She's now 42 and a hypnotherapist, living in Aldershot, but the memories linger on...

I was 12 and watching TV at home when a programme came on about the Woodstock Festival. It was 1969 and even though it was in black and white I remember seeing all these hippies whose faces seemed to shine with happiness and contentment. I decided that I wanted to be a hippie.

I don't think it was ever in me to be a twinset and pearls kind of girl, but even at a young age the whole hippie lifestyle suited me down to the ground.

The clothes were wonderful - a fantastic mix of colours. Nothing drab or boring like today. We created our own outfits as we went along. In fact being creative was really important then - we called it `finding yourself'. I made these trousers when I was 15 in 1972 and they were great because purple was `in'. The waistcoat cost a couple of pounds from a shop called Bizarre and the top cost 20p or something ridiculous.

We all had long hair - even the men. Anyone with short hair was considered old and boring. One of my friends had his hair cut to go into the forces in 1973 and I was shocked.

When I think back I remember sunshine and walking around in bare feet. I remember a free and easy lifestyle where you'd go to someone's house and people would be singing and playing the guitar, or sitting in the corner and talking about life and how to set the world right.

It was a wonderful time to be young. I just wish I could live through it all over again.

THE PROTEST POET AND SINGER

JAN Price is 60 and owns a fancy dress hire shop in Aberaman, South Wales. She has owned this coat for 30 years and putting it back on again brings the memories flooding back...

I was in my thirties when the hippie period was really at its height and it was a wonderful time. I've kept my clothes because I loved wearing them so much, and now I have the shop I just keep buying more and more.

This was my favourite coat - I used to wear it everywhere. I bought it in a thrift shop in Bridgend for pounds 3 in 1972 and I remember because that was the year I went to Glastonbury. It was my one and only trip. Six of us went in a mini-van and we took our guitars and banjos and we slept in the van.

The whole thing was brilliant. I remember walking around without any shoes on and feeling as if I really belonged. That was what was so great abut it - we were part of a whole load of people who felt the same and thought the same. And there were so many different types of people there, of all different ages.

It's not like that now. I don't go into pubs because I feel old, and if I ask for a sherry the barman always looks at me as though I've got horns on my head. But it wasn't like that then.

The yellow embroidered dress over the yellow trousers were typical hippie attire. I used to spend hours sewing beads, fringes and sequins on to my clothes. I even put shells and bits of wood on my dresses, but it sounds mad now, doesn't it? I used to dress like that to go round pubs reading my poetry. It was all protest stuff at the time - we all thought we were saving the world.

A couple of friends played the banjo and guitar, and I played the tambourine.

Then I'd read my poems about pollution and fascism. I remember the Vietnam war.

I lived in Malta for a time with my husband, who was in the forces, and all the American sailors used to stop off in Malta on their way to Vietnam.

I can still remember all these young men crying because they were so terrified of going there. It used to break my heart.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Cooke, Angela
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 28, 1999
Words:1199
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