Style spotlight: Seventies

/ Thursday, August 6, 2015 /
Hi there! Sorry for the lack of updates - we have so much to catch up on! Truth be told, I've been itching to create some of my own creative content but the ideas never seem to come into fruition.. I have a few ideas up my sleeve, and this I promise to you - it will happen soon, right here on this blog! In the mean time, I'd like to share with you a feature piece that I did for my school assignment this semester.

Building the story 
The looming assignment deadline posed as a major stress factor as I was writing this piece, but I also felt really excited to be writing about something I love - Seventies fashion. For this piece, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tanja Gacic, a Sydney-based blogger at My Empirical Life and online contributor for Vogue.com.au.  I hope you enjoy reading this piece as much as I did writing it. I'll see you real soon. 

Surprise! The Seventies are back and it looks like they’re here to stay. Many remember the Seventies as a decade of change and controversy. It saw the birth of the first ‘test-tube’ baby, the founding of Microsoft and most famously, American President Richard Nixon’s resignation and the Watergate scandal.

The Seventies also played a huge role in shaping popular culture. John Travolta’s hip-thrusting dance moves in the film Saturday Night Fever paved the way to a new disco era; The Beatles’ disbandment broke a million girls’ hearts around the world; and the high waisted bell bottom became a wardrobe staple in every woman’s (and man’s) closet.

As the saying goes: “What’s passed is past.” It isn’t so in this case, seeing that the spirit of the Seventies was brought back to life on the catwalk and on the big screen during the recent years. Fashion houses from Saint Laurent and Chloé to Australian-born labels Bec & Bridge and Zimmermann presented runway collections that paid homage to the Seventies, while films including The Runaways and American Hustle illustrated the prominence of the decade to its viewers.


The Seventies were all about the music, the feeling of freedom, the changes in attitude and world view… What I love most about the Seventies was the fashion.                    
Tanja Gacic, Online Contributor for Australian Vogue 

What exactly made the Seventies so darn fascinating? “The Seventies were all about the music, the feeling of freedom, the changes in attitude and world view… What I love most about the Seventies was the fashion,” shares Tanja Gacic, a Sydney-based creative director and online contributor for Australian Vogue.

For starters, dressing up in the Seventies was more of a form of individual expression than it was about fitting in. Many social movements and protests took place then as people became more vocal about fighting for their rights. The diversification of social groups meant that regardless of the cause that you stood by, you’d have the liberty of expressing yourself through the way you dress.

The hippie culture was one of the strongest youth cultures during the Seventies. Adhering to values like peace, love and community, the hippies practiced what they preached. They were proud advocates of environmentalism back then, hence they lived a nomadic lifestyle by embracing looser clothing and handcrafted jewellery that was made out of feathers and beads. 

Model Suki Waterhouse looks every part the 70's babe in VOGUE Turkey's February 2015 issue
Image source
“The style of the early Seventies was really about wide high waisted trousers and jeans, silk shirting and beautiful knitted blazers. The palette during this period revolved around quite earthy tones so we’re working through colours like chocolates, beiges and stones,” says Sarah Harris, fashion features editor at British Vogue

Music and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand, hence it was no surprise that Stevie Nicks of British-American rock band Fleetwood Mac was known to many as the Queen of ‘hippie-style’. Describing her style as “Bohemian-Chic”, the singer’s signature style revolved around billowy chiffon dresses, layered jewellery and flowing scarves. 

Stevie Nicks

Nostalgia hits hard when one watches Fleetwood Mac’s live performance of “Rhiannon” in 1976. Guitarist Lindsey Buckingham’s solo was undoubtedly impressive, but it was Nicks’ powerful vocals and outfit that truly stole the show. As she croons “Rhiannon” into the microphone, Nicks’ shaggy layered hair becomes the centre of attention and the bell sleeves of her dress move ever so dramatically while she dances on stage as if she was in a trance. In an interview with Nylon magazine, Nicks explains: “I realized that wearing a poncho or a long shawl gave me something to work with up on the stage. Big movements, big twirls… you need to be seen from far away. So I made that a big part of my stage clothes. It became totally intertwined in my fashion style.”

The revival of the Seventies hippie style was seen everywhere over the recent years. Singer Florence Welch of English rock band Florence and the Machine bears a striking resemblance to Nicks – both possess soulful vocal styling and a penchant for ankle-length dresses. ‘Hipsters’ at music festivals were spotted wearing flower crowns, crotchet bikinis and suede boots, and the style was further popularised by celebrities such as Sienna Miller, Nicole Richie and Kate Moss. 


I really wanted to capture something confident, but still with a carefree spirit. 
Clare Waight Keller, Creative Director at Chloé 

While these references proved that Stevie Nick’s covetable style was widely celebrated by many, it was French fashion house Chloé that paid the perfect tribute to the singer’s style. During the label’s Fall 2015 collection showcase earlier this year, creative director Clare Waight Keller presented an updated version of the hippie-chic Seventies style that matched the lifestyle and needs of the modern-day woman. Speaking to style.com about the collection, Waight Keller shares: "I really wanted to capture something confident, but still with a carefree spirit." 

Chloé Fall 2015 RTW, Chloé Pre-Fall 2015

Models sported centre-parted locks and sauntered down the catwalk as Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” plays in the background. Airy chiffon pieces were juxtaposed with tailored outerwear, while understated accessories like the leather satchel and ankle boots completed the looks. On the other end of the fashion spectrum, those who weren’t big on joining the ‘Earth-loving’ family turned to a place of glamour for style inspiration. Enter Studio 54: The hottest nightclub in the mid-Seventies that was known for its opulence and excessiveness.

In contrast to the laid-back nature of ‘hippie’ dressing, disco dressing was much more flamboyant. Everything about it was loud – the people, the clothes and especially the music. Comfort certainly wasn’t key in dressing for these club-hopping folks as fabrics such as lycra, spandex and polyester were used for the garments. Judging by the clothes worn back then, it is plausible to assume that these disco-maniacs were firm believers of the saying: “the higher and shinier – the better.” 


The idea of wearing platform shoes, form-fitting sequinned flare pants and over-the-top jewellery all at once sounds like a serious fashion faux pas waiting to happen. Are these seemingly outrageous trends even relevant in today’s context?

The idea of wearing platform shoes, form-fitting sequinned flare pants and over-the-top jewellery all at once sounds like a serious fashion faux pas waiting to happen. Are these seemingly outrageous trends even relevant in today’s context? 

“I believe trends like lamé, disco dresses and bell bottoms can always be made new, cool and contemporary - however a camel toe cannot!” exclaims Gacic. True enough, the grit and glamour of the Seventies disco era was revisited earlier this year by haute couture fashion house Balmain and David O’ Russell’s latest flick American Hustle.

For Balmain’s Fall 2015 collection, creative director Olivier Rousteing showcased jewel-toned separates, accordion-pleated dresses and wide palazzo pants. The liberal usage of fringe, lace and velvet in the pieces further proved that any one of the pieces would look right at home in Studio 54.

Balmain Fall 2015 RTW, Pre-Fall 2015

“This collection was inspired by the Seventies, hence lots of colours including mustard, purple and orange were in my designs. I was excited to introduce new cuts like striped flare pants into the collection. What I love about the Seventies is the freedom of discovering and the freedom of loving what is different,” shares Rousteing in an interview with Style.com. 

On the less literal front, the costumes in crime-drama flick American Hustle presented a much more tasteful depiction of the Seventies disco era. Amy Adams’s character dons cleavage-baring jumpsuits, sequinned dresses and outlandish fur coats in the film. Jennifer Lawrence’s character on the other hand sports a halter neck gown and favours silk jersey wrap dresses.     


There's something so exuberant and expressive about clothes from the Seventies that just really appeals to me. There’s a sense of fun, the prints are loud, the fabrics are stiff, and the lines are exaggerated… 
Michael Wilkinson, Costume Designer of American Hustle  

There's something so exuberant and expressive about clothes from the Seventies that just really appeals to me. There’s a sense of fun, the prints are loud, the fabrics are stiff, and the lines are exaggerated… It was a pleasure to be around them,” says Michael Wilkinson, costume designer of the Oscar-nominated film. 

American Hustle

In order to emulate the provocative styles of dressing during the disco era, Wilkinson looked to fashion designers including Roy Halston Frowick and Diane von Furstenberg for inspiration. “I mixed high-end vintage designer pieces - Halston, Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg, Christian Dior and Ozzie Clark - and custom made costumes, combining strong dramatic lines with soft, sensual fabrics,” shares Wilkinson.

“Halston turned fashion on its ear in the over-accessorised sixties by blending simple, pared-down silhouettes with the most luxurious fabrics,” shares Patricia Mears, deputy director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. 

As for von Furstenberg, she came up with a design so versatile that women could go straight from the office to the dance floor. Known as ‘the wrap dress,’ the design has since been worn by countless celebrities till today such as Oprah Winfrey and Katherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. When asked about the reason behind the creation of the wrap dress, von Furstenberg replied: “Well, if you’re trying to slip out without waking a sleeping man, zips are a nightmare.”

That being said, Halston’s minimalistic approach to fashion and von Furstenberg’s understanding of woman’s sartorial needs both created a huge impact in fashion during the Seventies disco era. 

“All in all, the Seventies gave us so many trends. It's really not a unified era style-wise. We saw new tech fabrics, leisure suits, flares, turtlenecks and dancing queen dresses…When you look at the trends at the beginning of that era, compared to the end… really, a lot has happened. Be it tomorrow or a few years later, designers will always revisit key design ideas - especially ones as varied as the Seventies brought us!” shares Gacic.

By the looks of it, it seems pretty evident that the world is ready to embrace the return of the Seventies with open arms. Then again, has it ever really left?

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