What goes around comes around: 1970s

DISCO. Probably the first thing that pops into your mind at the thought of 70s fashion. In reality, yes; spandex, hotpants, platforms and flares were all the rage, but there is also a much more demure side of 70s fashion which is too often forgotten.

The decade began with the androgynous hippie look from the 60s, with voluminous clothing hinting almost depreciatingly at the limbs hidden beneath. This was soon replaced by an array of electrifying colours and fabrics epitomizing the social liberalism of the time. The phenomenon of Saturday Night Fever inspired the disco movement, giving rise to satin hotpants, afro hair and ever-widening flared trousers (remarkably handy for smuggling alcohol into concerts, according to my father).

Equally as glittering was the shock of glam rock, where David Bowie made unisex dressing not only acceptable, but also fashionable. This look announced the celebration of decoration with the true 70s glamour we all know and love: elegant midi-skirts and platform shoes. An element of 30s retro shone through in the style of some shoes, particularly two-tone colour schemes.

Then came the A word: Anarchy. From one outlandish trend to another – punk rock promptly appeared on the horizon. Understood as a by-product of disaffected youth, effort was intentionally made to look scruffy and ultimately abolish uniformity. Punks could be seen in cigarette-legged jeans, bondage trousers and ripped tops. Modern icons such as Alice Dellal or Aggy Deyn still fly the flag for our inner-punk, just waiting to be set free (…or not). The flame-haired queen of rebellion – Vivienne Westwood – enjoyed exacerbating the defiant revolution by opening a series of risqué, horrifically nonconformist shops. Emphasis was placed on the need to be unique to be stylish, with Vogue pronouncing ‘Style is what everybody would like to think they have but very few do’. Harsh, but potentially bang on the money.

But it wasn’t all safety pins and swearwords; a friendlier trend of this decade was the ‘new thing’ of ethnic blending.  Ethnic influences gave rise to gypsy tops with drawn up necklines, softly pleated peasant skirts and pretty paisley prints. Craft skills were even inherited from other nations, with hand-painted shoes and vigilant embroidery.

The pure and undisputed glamour of the 70s is the main trend that we just can’t shake off, dominating last year’s fashion and holding its own this season. Think Liza Minelli in a floor-length gown or Bianca Jagger in a vibrant silk jumpsuit. Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Paul & Joe all offered hipstamatic collections for S/S ’11 that revived the spirit of the seventies. For A/W 2012, we are set to see a fusion of 70s fashion trends with a modern classical twist. Tommy Hilfiger used bohemian style as his inspiration with handcrafted chunky knits paired with silk shirtdresses. The high-waisted velvet pants of the 70s were redefined at Morgan, with brightly coloured designs such as fir green, mustard yellow and fiery tones.

There is no denying that the 70s lay claim to some of the most entertaining trends of our time and taught us the value of uniqueness in everyday fashion. Yet it is primarily the charm of the 70s pared-down glamour that our society clings to for the time being, and with any luck, for many years to come.