That 70s Show

In ART & FASHION, Commentary, HOME by Hannah Beer

Discard that filtered selfie and re-cartridge your parents’ abandoned Polaroid, because the 70s are roller-skating their way into the 21st century. Hopefully this time with less upheaval and fewer wars. In an era in which tailored, streamlined sartorial pieces have become the foundation of our wardrobes, the new season’s 70s trend makes a mockery of the items we have been acquiring over the past few years. It ushers in a wave of flares, jumpsuits and ribbed knits.

Let’s be honest, we should have anticipated the 70s siege.

We saw glimpses of the trend during A/W ’14 as Louis Vuitton sewed the early nostalgic seeds with an abundance of A-line coats and Acne gave our eyes a feast with psychedelic swirl prints. But when the S/S ’15 season arrived last year there was hardly a designer who didn’t embrace the retro vibe. House of Holland paraded flower power, Coach coloured the catwalk with pastel furs and Valentino exhibited art nouveau. Freja Beha Erichsen even posed like a Nico/Patti Smith hybrid in Vogue’s January edition.

This idea of bridging the old with the new is also visible in Burberry’s latest campaigns. 2014’s commercials featured the omnipresent Cara Delevingne sharing some trench-coat cover with Kate Moss and the S/S ’15 advert rings similar tones with Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell (and they’re both rocking a distinctly 70s take on the classic trench). There’s a clear craving for making the past relevant once more, and I’m entirely on board. It’s not passé, or even ‘retro’ – it’s just fashion.

Although the 70s appear juxtaposed in our 21st century context, its return does seem natural. As fashion works in cycles, it was bound to occur sooner rather than later.

We’ve had the 90s grunge phase and the (albeit somewhat muted) 80s athletic aesthetics phase, now it’s time for the 70s to make their mark on the catwalks and streets alike. Burberry has updated its classic trench with a flared silhouette and Liberty is offering washed out flares and floral prints, and sealing the lid on the era’s new status is Alexa Chung for AG Jeans, bringing us the denim mini in all its glory.

The trend for taking one step forward and two steps back extends beyond the pages of fashion magazines. Despite technological advances, #tbt takes us right back to an event or time we now long for; we scroll through our Facebook photos, reliving the nights out we could not remember; Time Hop, the app that spams our newsfeed, reminds us what we were doing a year or so ago. Even though I’m surrounded by the vast events and opportunities that the London metropolis has to offer, I frequently crave a return to my childhood memories of bike rides and chasing ice cream vans.

It’s therefore clear that although we perceive ourselves to be constantly looking for the next big thing, in reality we can’t seem to let go of the what’s been and gone; the 70s revival is no bolt from the blue.

Although it hasn’t (yet) caused me to don a pair of Cuban heels and a full collared shirt, I’ll still be inspired to dust off my old records and spend more time physically interacting with others rather than staring at a 5-inch phone screen. Like most trends in fashion, they’re never just limited to the clothes we choose to dress ourselves in – so often, they’re entire lifestyle trends. The 70s’ relaxed, happy attitude that shone through the era’s clothes is definitely one that we could do with adopting.

Alexa-Chung-AG-Jeans-Collection-2015-16It is part of our nature to look to the past in order to create our own identity in the present. We avoid the mistakes made and take with us the best bits we have experienced. The current generation is not exactly going through an existential crisis, but in a period where image appears to be everything we cannot help but feel like we are constantly looking for influences to update how we look and appear. So in this sense, looking backwards is not a bad idea. And if you’re disinterested with the modern culture of skinny jeans and trends in constant flux, there is no shame looking to an era that revolutionised the fashion world.

So, shag up your hair, indulge in CHANEL no.19 and, if monetary means allow you to, venture to the stratosphere with Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars. Because the 70s are back in style.

Josh Lee

Josh is a History student at UCL. Although often caught dreaming about his return to Manchester, he can also frequently be found on a mission to find the perfect pair of brogues. Standing at a meagre 5 ft 7, he is still patiently awaiting his growth spurt at the age of 19.

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(Images sourced from: here, here, here and here)