Lily Absinthe and the American West – A Bit of Philosophy

Family portrait taken by Frank Albert Rinehart (1861-1928) at the 1898 Indian Congress in Omaha.

Family portrait taken by Frank Albert Rinehart (1861-1928) at the 1898 Indian Congress in Omaha.

The American West of the 19th Century has always held a fascination for us both in terms of history and its effect of fashion (and vice-versa). Fueled by movies and television shows, the American West is symbolized by seemingly vast emptiness filled with larger than life landscapes that are both harsh and beautiful at the same time.

Group of outlaws- One of the more typical images but one that still fascinates.

Group of outlaws- One of the more typical images but one that still fascinates.

Also, the various people of the West were no less larger than life. On the one hand, there were the Native Americans who were composed of many tribes, each with their own unique culture and language. And then there were the Americans, a culture with roots initially in the British Isles but increasingly expanding as people from different parts of Europe (and to a lesser extent, Asia) immigrated. And to further add to the mix were African-Americans who were initially brought to America as slaves.

Nat Love (aka Deadwood Dick) - One of many African-American Cowboys that were in the West.

Nat Love (aka Deadwood Dick) – One of many African-American Cowboys that were in the West.

Of course, the reality was more complex and as we learn more, the popular images about the American West change and transform themselves and what beliefs that were certain about have now come into question.

In front of a saloon in Georgetown, Colorado with a Chinese man who is identified as Chan Gow and his pit bull type dog. This photo is dated 1875-1892.

In front of a saloon in Georgetown, Colorado with a Chinese man who is identified as Chan Gow and his pit bull type dog. This photo is dated 1875-1892.

So what does this mean for us here at Lily Absinthe? Well, to us it provides a rich tapestry that to a great degree shaped and influenced who were are today, for good and bad. We would like to believe that the end product will be for the best but we are also realistic enough to know that this road is a bumpy one, full of twists and turns and featuring many shades of grey.

Mexican Vaqueros - Wild Bill's Wild West Show

Mexican Vaqueros – Wild Bill’s Wild West Show

It is a truism that the past informs current fashions and that was no different in the American West of the 19th Century. In looking at the pictures above, one can see influences transferring across cultures. From our corner, we are always on the lookout for examples of this diversity.

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