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That '70s Vibe: A Night With Linda Perhacs

The cross-genre extravaganza at REDCAT was an inspired gathering of under- and above-ground art stars who came to pay homage to 1970s folksinger, modern-day High Priestess of Yes and Yay, Linda Perhacs.

The evening was full of singing, swaying and celebration, but it was just as much an aqueous, psychedelic time-travel jaunt for Eastside hipsters, and the scruffy aesthetic that defines them.

The event, held earlier this month, was an experimental collaboration by L.A. artists honoring Perhacs’ illustrious album, Parallelograms. Perhacs recorded Parallelograms in 1970, when she was living in Topanga Canyon, studying theosophist manifestos and reading musical auras. The album is legendary — so much so that it inspired the nearly 100 artists at REDCAT to express their takes on the record, one song at a time, by way of inspired instrumental arrangements, psychedelic visuals, interpretive dance and, of course, fashion.

The crowd was an extemporaneous Parallelograms-appropriate installation unto itself. The men wore beards, plaid button-downs and stringy center parts that belied a collective aversion to razors and sodium laurel sulfates (shampoo is so 1950s!). Beatles boots mingled with chunky platforms peeking out beneath floor-length polyester gowns. Eyelet minis and patent-leather go-go boots were accessorized with brightly colored feathers and strategically placed glitter.

It was odd to see so many intelligent and attractive people decorated in the fashion mistakes of their forefathers. Those prints, those blends, those ubiquitous center parts, aren’t easy on the eyes. Still, there’s an innocence to the ill-fitting ugliness of ’70s fashion that lends itself to easy forgiveness. The intentions are pure, even if the fibers — in all their shiny, slippery, synthetic, highly flammable perversity — are demonic through and through.

Not everyone in the audience went balls-out flower power for the occasion. Some wore muted variations on the ’70s theme by way of camel-colored corduroy blazers with leather elbow patches, paired with Wallabees, Asian arm candy, high-waisted denim and the stale scent of weed-smoky beanies. And as if the glittery array of Ziggy Stardust attire wasn’t enough, another, far more evil fashion era seeped its way in and around the Eastside-heavy crowd. Hello, ’80s.

Yup, the ’80s — the only fashion period measurably more appalling than the ’70s, what with its odd angles, its asymmetrical hems and hairstyles and its bizarro proportions that turned men into peg-legged femmes and women into towering amazons carrying the weight of this wonky world on their padded shoulders.

No Eastside event would be complete these days without its appalling and nonsensical display of ’80s-era bad taste, but why? Do we not endure sufficient suffering at the hands of a fear-mongering reptilian agenda, Top 40 pop drivel, the extinction of intimacy, and irradiated everything? Must we make matters worse by tucking our shiny spandex leggings into white, leather-fringed boots, and teasing our bangs? Did we not learn these painful lessons in junior high?

Apparently not. And thus, the audience was doomed to repeat the errors of those who Moonwalked and Hustled before them.

Linda Perhacs, equal parts mystic, musician, schoolteacher, earth mother and Pollyanna, presided over the evening outfitted in an electric-purple satin tunic with a sassy swatch of white trim. The Miss KK–designed frock doubled as consciousness-shifting wormhole that, when stared at long enough, with eyes unfocused and feet uncrossed, morphed into an undulating vortex of neon dolphin spit that, when shimmied through, landed the viewer in 1973, smack in the middle of a Topanga Canyon love-in, surrounded by butterflies, spinning tetrahedrons and the wafting smoke of incense. Sandalwood, I think.

The center-parted denizens loved it, as did the singular supermodel, clearly a Westside immigrant, cluelessly clad in Barney’s casual, yet happily sharing in a dazzling night that melted the time-space continuum into the shape of an accidentally atemporal avocado.

Or something.