An Ayahuasca sense of fashion

Josh De Souza Crook
5 min readApr 3, 2016

Fashion is a business that catches onto trends and cults before most. It draws inspiration from culture all over the world and the psychedelic herbal tea Ayahuasca is no different. Stylist and creative consultant Ece Sukan, who drunk the Amazonian brew said that “it’s becoming fashionable, the world is going there and fashion people are first to catch those things because they’re more connected.”

Ayahuasca goes beyond an ‘It!’ phase or a party drug confined to the high-fashion elites and designers of London and the world. It’s actually a herbal brew that shares the same traits with LSD and mushrooms (hallucinations, altered perception of time), but unlike the latter two, it gives users a trip that leads to self-examining and mental curation of designs.

The self-examination trip has made the brew very popular with designers and artists. After drinking Ayahuasca, many come out of the trip feeling inspired and pure which then helps creative practice. A seasoned Shaman usually supervises a group of Ayahausca drinkers, this is partly because the effects can sometimes be very challenging. The brew is also difficult to procure and needs someone with experience to relay the way it’s been produced in the Amazon for centuries.

Johan Lindeberg recently drank the tea five times over the course of 17 days. The current creative director of BLK DNM said he came out the trip feeling pure, which is what he wanted. He sees instinct as the most important tool in fashion, and believes creative people should strip away years of influence and use instinct to design and create. Lindeberg said, “If your born pure, then you’re trying to figure out how to be pure again.” This pureness is what helps develop creative practice and design. Ricky Hendry of Isaora is also among the names of fashion designers that said the psychedelic herbal tea has helped them find about their work and design in different ways. The pair acknowledge Ayahuasca for giving them improved self-awareness and a new guiding light.

This level of “pureness” described by Johan, helps many more outside of fashion and creative practices. Earlier this year, Lindsey Lohan said the centuries old Amazonian brew has helped with her addiction issues and kept her sober after the Ayahuasca cleanse gave her enlightening new vision. It also helped American DJ and Night Tales owner Seth Troxler kick in his cocaine and ketamine habit almost overnight. The herbal psychedelic provided him with clarity and a pure vision on what he wants from his art and music. Ayahuasca is currently being studied in many countries as part of a psychedelic investigation for stopping addiction to anything from alcohol to methamphetamine.

The rising interest in the Amazonian plant with creatives, musicians and designers may be done to the psychedelic visions and euphoria promoted by the combination of D.M.T. and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. The other notable musicians to speak out about Ayahuasca contributing to their creative work include Sting, Devendra Banhart, Ben Lee and Father John Misty of the Fleet Foxes. I spoke to Monica D. Murgia, Adjunct Professor at Berkley College and Fashion Historian, about the recent Ayahuasca trend. She explains that “creativity can often be elusive. It can be difficult to understand when it will ‘strike’ and how to channel it consistently.” She recalls the frustration of when “the creative juices dried up” during her time as a former assistant at a couture house and as a practising artist and Professor. Monica built up an understanding of fashion and creative practice over time. She says that, “After some time, I started to suspect that art and design are akin to

exercise — you can fatigue one sensory modality if used too much, and it is also important to exercise the other sensory modalities in tandem for optimal performance.”

Removing yourself away from traditional practices and years of influence helps to transform a person’s creative capacity. Many people use meditation to translate different senses and scents. Distancing yourself from operating in a framework of words, letters and concepts impact mood and perception. Monica says she has to eliminate thought and then spontaneously interact with the materials in front of her. She says this is an approach similar to Eastern philosophies, “to operate as mushin, or one with ‘no mind’ — the state that samurai warriors achieve before battle.”

This helps to identify the interest in psychedelics, like LSD or Ayahuasca according to Monica. Both offer this experience of ‘no mind’ and distancing yourself away from experience, influence and traditional practice without the discipline and practice of meditation.

Monica explains that she has never tried any of these psychedelic experiences before, but is in no way opposed to them. She says, “I think that these experiences, either drug induced or discipline induced, can greatly impact fashion and other creative disciplines. Your sensory perceptions are greatly heightened. You become more sensitive to stimulus and emotions, and you see life as it truly is — a beautiful miracle.”

Although the prospect of Ayahausca may seem interesting to many, the herbal brew definitely isn’t a party drug or a joke by any means. The fashion and creative world started to take Ayahuasca in a bid to seek spiritual and creative enlightenment, but others just took it to get completely off their minds. The success stories of Shamans opening up people’s minds to deeper realities and untapped potential are also counterbalanced by the dark side of the Amazonian brew. There are reports of many people never fully returning to a stable frame of mind, the psychedelic brew has the power to lead many into a constant state of nightmares envisioned during the trip. The growing popularity of the herbal tea has also created a booming industry in dire state of new Shamans, many of whom only enter their occupation for money rather than Amazonian tradition. There have been reports of Shamans killing, raping and robbing their clients during the trip.

For now the fashion world have taken Ayahausca under their arms and established new styles and designs outside traditional practices. The creative vision and enlightenment that the brew can produce may make the psychedelic seem like an appealing advert. But its presence in fashion is relatively new and no one knows what long-term effects it may have on designers and the industry. Although it may be fashionable to take the Ayahausca brew, you need to remember that creative practices also happen in a sober state of mind.



Josh De Souza Crook

Josh De Souza Crook is a freelance journalist and Communications Officer at London College of Fashion. More work here: