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Style Voyeur: 'Bohemian' has many meanings

By Dennise Smith

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The term "bohemian" goes back to the mid-1800s in France. It was first used to describe gypsies and vagabonds traveling throughout Europe, living on the outskirts of society and free of social constraints and conventions.

In recent years, the term "boho" refers to anyone who dresses unconventionally and with a sense of flair. It covers myriad styles: neo-hippie/gypsy, hipster, retro or vintage boho, geek chic, and the ever popular look among the hip Hollywood starlets, boho-chic.

While boho gals in Charleston are more likely to shop at local boutiques and resale shops, such as Collage and Cornucopia, entire brands and stores have been established to honor the spirit and style of the bohemian, such as Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Lucky. This popular fashion style has and continues to influence major designers. Even Ralph Lauren, whose designs generally typify the classic elegance of the upper class, featured the bohemian gypsy theme in his spring 2013 collection.

Those who assume these free spirits can only be found in the hipster neighborhoods of Los Angeles and New York are mistaken. The various flora and fauna of bohemian world are found right here in wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Dennise Smith is a Charleston lawyer, fashion designer and co-founder of the local arts group Nomadic Tribes Collective.


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