Cosmic L.A. Style: Tune In, Try On

Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson in Themis with friends
Jim Morrison and Pamela Courson in Themis with friends

San Francisco might own 1967’s Summer of Love, but L.A.’s trippy season went on long after that—just like its eternal sunshine. The late ‘60s here saw love-ins in Elysian Park, acid tests in Watts (presided over by Merry Prankster Ken Kesey himself), and an explosion of Hollywood nightclubs such as The Trip, The London Fog, Thee Experience and The Galaxy. Thanks to the boutiques around the Sunset Strip that had their own thriving scenes, the crowds at these hot spots were dressed just as exotically as rising stars like Love and The Doors.

The recent “Hippie Chic” fashion exhibition at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts spotlighted some of L.A.’s key shops from the era, including Themis, the store Jim Morrison funded for his girlfriend, Pamela Courson, on La Cienega just below Sunset. Named for the Greek goddess of divine order and decorated with peacock feathers and tie-dyed tapestries, it carried elaborately embroidered caftans and furs from India and the Middle East, vintage deco from the ‘20s and ‘30s, and cutting-edge local and European designers that Courson sourced on trips to Paris. Morrison described her wares as “weapons, ornaments and protection,” and their clientele included Miles Davis and Sharon Tate. 

Morrison himself was a walking advertisement for Mirandi Babitz, a friend of Courson’s who had her own boutique on the Strip. The sister of scene chronicler Eve Babitz, Mirandi made The Lizard King’s now-iconic leather pants; unfortunately these skins couldn’t protect him from himself. After the singer’s untimely death in 1971, Courson returned from Paris and drove a van through the front window of Themis; that was the end of her foray into fashion. 

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