Woodstock at 40: Rock Stars and Designers Weigh In

Shirley Manson of Garbage, Courtney Love, Anna Sui and Simon Doonan share their thoughts on Woodstock.

with contributions from Marcy Medina, Bobbi Queen, Anne Riley-Katz, Nick Axelrod, Sarah Haight, Alessandra Codinha

Woodstock means something to everyone — those who actually played in the mud piles of Bethel, N.Y., and those who watched the footage decades later. Here, diverse types weigh in on those infamous three days of peace and music.

“[Woodstock] was where anyone who aspired to be a hippie wanted to be. I wasn’t old enough at the time [to go], but I did read about it and definitely knew about it. Anybody that lived in America knew about it. It was on the cover of Life Magazine and in every paper. — Anna Sui

“The whole reason that you want to play in music festivals is because of what Woodstock stood for. Then you get to one and it’s nothing like that.” — Shirley Manson, singer, Garbage

“I was the only one who didn’t go….There was a feeling that you could do anything — no rules and restrictions [that were] part of the late Fifties, early Sixties. [We went] from girdles to no bra or panties. Ultimate freedom, however, always has consequences, but it was an exhilarating time.” — Norma Kamali

“Because I’m old, I was there. I remember mom and pop there, a woman screaming, and there’s a guy — this woman with watermelon, watermelon on my body and this woman with pink on her face. And a black guy, with his guitar on fire — so that was one of them. And this woman screaming. And that is all. And I, you know, searched.” — Courtney Love (Love was five in 1969. WWD could find no prior reference to her childhood attendance at Woodstock. However, at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, Jimi Hendrix did set his guitar on fire.)

“Woodstock is one of the biggest inspirations of community getting together. Unfortunately, I didn’t go because I was too young.” — Donna Karan

“Music has always had a profound and positive effect on people, and with the hippies it was an overt expression of that happiness. I may not know The Grateful Dead, but I do know that Sri Swami Satchidananda actually opened Woodstock and spoke about peace and love through music, which are both things that I can support even if I don’t love the whole folk music thing.” — Russell Simmons

“I was thrilled I wasn’t there. What I wanted in life was to see the world. Then I discovered a job that if I worked harder than anyone else, I could travel and take the time off as I pleased. That was the great thing about modeling. I was more interested in going to Northern Uganda than Northern New York. I liked 1,000 elephants more than 1,000 hippies.” — Lauren Hutton

"I grew up in San Francisco in the Seventies, so I’m used to that vibe. Woodstock was all about revolution and thinking of things in a different way. It’s actually a lot like the times we’re living in now.” — Peter Som

“We Brits loved the music, but we were not so great at being hippies. We did not really have the deep ideological commitment to the counterculture. Me and my pals were more about working on our look than worrying about politics and changing the world. We had jobs in a department store, which was very un-Woodstock and very uncool. We loved Jimi in his orange feather boa, but for all the wrong reasons. In the U.K., we had our Woodstock equivalent, the Isle of Wight Festival — Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, Jethro Tull, The Who and more. And Joni Mitchell. I remember her yelling at us and calling us a ‘bunch of tourists.’ I am sure she was right.” — Simon Doonan

“Woodstock to me was something that I always assigned to my parents’ generation, and I always thought of it as a bit elderly, something that was very distant and happened a very long time ago….[Doing this film] made me understand my parents a little bit better.”
— Mamie Gummer, star of “Taking Woodstock”

“Babies were made at Woodstock from strange people who hadn’t met before. It was the place where all this energy from this aggression and art and culture came together in one moment. I want to go sit [at Woodstock] now and make my own mud pile and pretend 100,000 people are with me.” — Davis Guggenheim, director of “An Inconvenient Truth”

“My dad went to Woodstock and I grew up hearing stories from that generation. I always wished our generation had gotten its s--- together to do something that cool.” — Sophie Buhai, Vena Cava

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