Walk into any given photo shoot these days, and you might hear a model over in one corner comparing her horoscope traits with her boyfriend's. In another corner, there's a stylist showing off pics of her Pinterest-worthy apartment filled with succulents and crystals. Nearby, a fashion editor is raving over the Moon Dust she finally splurged on at the Goop convention. And finally, there's a fashion assistant sorting rows of Prada's talisman necklaces, while another steams an elaborate Alexander McQueen gown that conjures up visions of medieval pagan goddesses.
A new interest in New Age practices is infusing the cultural zeitgeist. Astrology, tarot, spiritual healing, sound baths, ancient meditations, and all things "witchy" have become increasingly mainstream. We've got It Girls like Bella Hadid 'gramming about their crystal collections—not to mention a Birchbox-type subscription service for gemstones. Today, mass retailers sling "energy balancing smudge kits," and set up aura photography booths at music festivals. Basically, neo-hippies (or "Silver Lake shamans," as they've been dubbed) are the new hipsters.
The Wellness Connection
In many ways, this emerging spiritual conversation is an extension of the wellness revolution. "Lifestyle gurus" like Gwyneth Paltrow and Amanda Chantal Bacon, the respective CEOs of Goop and Moon Juice, have turned radical self-care—fused with a healthy interest in the supernatural—into lucrative business models.
"There is a cosmic calling and powerful movement here to push us forward as a race," writes Bacon in the introduction to her best-selling Moon Juice cookbook. "A big part of the movement is caring for our bodies, as well as for the health of our planet. Anytime we make a move toward supporting or joining that mission, we make a move toward supporting or joining that mission, we tune into the world of otherworldy success and abundance."
People are searching to connect with something larger than themselves. For a generation that has largely turned away from organized religion, nurturing a spiritual self inquiry rooted in self improvement gives them something to believe in—and to buy into, whether it's a pretty piece of tourmaline or a $60 bottle of detoxifying herbal supplements.
Fashion's Magical Fixation
The fashion industry has enjoyed a long-and-torrid romance with the occult. Christian Dior was famously rumored to have his tarot cards read before every show. Fast forward to Maria Grazia Chiuri's past few collections for Dior featuring all kinds of celestial and zodiac symbolism. Chiuri cited Georgia O'Keefe and Vicki Noble (a shamanic healer and creator of the Motherpeace feminist tarot deck) as inspirations for her latest Resort lineup presented in a canyon in Calabasas, California.
Dior is just one of the many recent examples of fashion's obsession with the mystical world. Riccardo Tisci's final Spring '17 collection for Givenchy boasted giant agate pendants and geode printed dresses. That same season, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi sent out multiple looks with spellbinding pentagrams. All-seeing third eye motifs have popped up on runways including Prada, Tome, Kenzo, and more. Alessandro Michele collaborates with tarot-obsessed illustrator Jayde Fish on murals and prints for Gucci. The references go on.
Material Girl, Mystical World
And it's not just designers who are into this New Age-y stuff. Ask a digital fashion editor about their horoscopes section and she'll admit it's a consistent top-performer. So why do fashion followers vibrate on this magical frequency more so than the rest?
"At its core, the fashion industry is about investigating identity and how we project ourselves into this world. In astrology, the twelve different astrological symbols are representative of twelve different human archetypes. People who are interested in fashion and people who are interested in astrology are committed to investigating all those different parts of what it means to be a human," says Ruby Warrington, a former fashion writer who shifted gears several years ago to launch The Numinous, an online lifestyle magazine dedicated to the cosmic universe. Her debut book, Material Girl, Mystical World, is a terrific introduction to tarot, astrology, crystals, psychic mediums, and the "Now Age wellness scene." One chapter is aptly titled "Healing is the new nightlife," which pretty much says it all.
So what's Warrington's take on the commodification of all these tools and philosophies and traditions? "There are many people who may criticize this as spiritual materialism, but that bypasses the actual inner work where the real spiritual development happens," she says. "And balance for me is being able to appreciate both the external material stuff and the internal mystical stuff."