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The Seventies Aura

 

Written by Stella Lizardi

 

Somewhere between the swan song of the restless ‘60s and the frenzy of disco, fashion revelled in an

extended period of sweet excess. The ‘70s were a time when everything was allowed, with diversity

and plurality bringing about a never-ending party.


Sophisticated yet innocent, slipping into style’s garden of pleasures to live

in the moment, the eternal girl of the ‘70s has been with us ever since.

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Tailoring gave way to more fluid and daring lines, and magazines celebrated dazzling women

who seemed both proud and familiar, adorned in furs and gold jewellery, and wrapped in wispy

jerseys, silk easy-on-easy-off maxi dresses and sexy bell-bottom suits. Like Bianca, Lauren, Farrah,

Jane, Talitha… How is it possible for one decade to have given birth to so many indelible images of style?

“In the early ‘70s”, says Beverly Johnson, the first African-American top model to appear on

the cover of US Vogue back in 1974, “the revolutionary delirium of ‘60s fashion, experimentation

and exaggeration had subsided”. An air of indolent sensuality permeated the years from 1967 to

1974, filtering what was dubbed ‘70s style through an unprecedented mix of bohemian lifestyle and

cosmopolitanism.

Ossie Clark’s patterns; Yves Saint Laurent’s jumpsuits; Diane von Furstenberg’s wrap dress;

Halston’s silk gowns; they’re all emblematic of that era, and they’ve all been repeatedly reimagined

and relaunched ever since by modern designers engaged in an endless mash-up of nostalgia.

It’s no wonder that the ‘70s are considered the mother-lode of creativity and style.

G. TURILLAZZI/ CONDE NAST VIA GETTY IMAGES / IDEAL IMAGE

Vogue 1970 Model, Marisa Berenson wearing a green drape and matching hair veil tied from her topknot hairstyle, with a necklace of gold, diamonds, rubies and emeralds by Bulgari; make-up by Alexandre de Markoff.
Model, Iman, with body wrapping of silk cording anchored with a huge golden jewel.

Responsible for bringing Gucci back in the 1990s

with a rock collection inspired by the ‘70s,

Tom Ford was once again on point in 2015,

when he put Bianca Jagger on his own house’s runway

clad in dandy-style velvet suits. Later in the same year,

Alessandro Michele – who had taken the creative reins of Gucci

– followed in Ford’s footsteps by using materials

from the same decade to compose his very own vocabulary

of luxury. The secret of the 1970s’ influence can perhaps

be summarized in the design philosophy of the most iconic

master of the period: Halston. In contrast to the couture outfits

of his French contemporaries, the American designer responded

to his generation’s demand for simpler, “real” clothes, creating

looks that were somehow both discrete and enthralling.

Adorning celebrities on the red carpet and in glossy magazine

spreads, they highlighted every detail of female anatomy

without failing to satisfy the modern requirements of fast living

and unrestricted movement.

 

ISHIMURO / CONDE NAST VIA GETTY IMAGES / IDEAL IMAGE

After all, why should fashion stop dreaming of a time that embodied

the absence of guilt? How could it not instinctively keep

revisiting the aesthetic stereotypes of a time when people smoked obsessively, made love indiscriminately,

and experimented on all fronts, long before AIDS and lean budgets stood in the way of desire?

Admittedly, contemporary fashion brands are prone to recycling influences.

When they turn to the ‘70s, though, it’s clear that they are looking to grasp the audacious spirit of youth,

the essence of guiltless glam and, more than anything, a soothing sense of familiarity.

“Clothes are only alive when they meet the body”, thought Geoffrey Beene, another designer

working to liberate women from suffocating apparel. Instead, he adopted diagonal seaming joined

with pieces of lace or chiffon, which helped the pattern breath. Sophisticated yet innocent,

slipping into style’s garden of pleasures to live in the moment, the eternal girl of the ‘70s has been with us ever since.

She lives beyond eras, immortalized on Pinterest walls, hidden in a smiling Ali MacGraw

in her suede coat in The Getaway, and channeled by Marisa Berenson when she posed for Vogue in

high-hippie kaftans and rows upon rows of rings.