All smiles in their ribbon-and-lace-trimmed mini-dresses, the three winsome young women could not have been more eye-catching. That they were members of the Manson clan, photographed, hair swinging, on their way to court, is chilling of course. But fashion, perversely, cannot look away.

Like the culture at large, the style world has been fixated of late on these and other profoundly unsettling representations of the 1960s counterculture, designers and marketers viscerally drawn to hippiedom's sketchily improvised manner and style, intent, it would seem, on exploring its dark side.

Indeed, there's a lot to suggest that, to some minds at least,

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