Ever since I fell in love with the Grateful Dead in the ’80s (and attended many concerts, although nowhere close to my husband’s several dozen), people have asked me — with a considerable degree of good-natured sarcasm and the occasional smirk — “So, are you a Deadhead?”
I always assumed the sarcasm and evident amusement were due to the fact that there is and never has been anything remotely “hippie” about me — much less my wardrobe. Sure, I have the requisite tie-dye t shirts (mostly procured in exchange for a hug from fellow showgoers in myriad pre-show parking lots; shirts I still wear and love), but I have always preferred Hermès to hemp and Tretorns to Tevas.
But now, for the first time ever, luxe fashion has been intertwined with the band’s legendary Dancing Bears iconography (originally introduced on the History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear’s Choice) album cover in 1973), thanks to designer Stacey Bendet of Alice & Olivia. And I couldn’t be more thrilled, so thank you, Stacey.
The timing, of course, is perfect now that the Grateful Dead is back on the cultural radar screen due to last summer’s 50th anniversary Fare Thee Well performances and the pending Martin Scorsese documentary, produced by Bendet’s husband, Eric Eisner. Bendet launched the collection this month (pre-Coachella, via a virtual shop-the-runway partnership with Neiman Marcus) in celebration and anticipation of the release-date-still-TBD film. Clearly Bendet has tapped into a pop culture zeitgeist, considering many of the items have already sold out.
Inspired by Bendet’s capsule collection — and invigorated by my personal passion for the band — I curated this abbreviated GD shopping list for both fans and non-fans alike. I’d also like to give a special shout-out to Smathers & Branson, the preppy needlepoint titans (their coaster set is included above) who have added several Dancing Bear items to their offerings, including belts (you can monogram them…I slipped one into my husband’s Christmas stocking last December), flip-flops (men’s sizes only…sigh), baseball hats, dog collars, key fobs, flasks and wallets. See? Not all Grateful Dead fans are cut from the same cloth…and neither are our wardrobes.
Oh, and for the record, the answer is YES. I am a Deadhead.