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From Joni Mitchell to Cher, we highlight the greatest icons of 1970s fashion.
Anyone who’s paid attention to the catwalk these past few seasons will know that 70s fashion still inspires designers such as Victoria Beckham, Chloe and Gucci today. That decade was quite simply bold and overstated at its best.
What were trends in the 70s?
Continuing the 1960s fashion theme of individual style, flares, platforms, fringing and suede dominated the 70s fashion era with icons aplenty; Joni Mitchell, Cher, Bianca Jagger and more making huge waves in the style world. It’s safe to say the seventies’ style was a stark contrast from the 1980s fashion that followed it.
So many trends defined the 70s, not least the boho trend which Sienna Millar revived in the 00s. Peasant blouses, tie dye, bell sleeves, crochet dresses and bell bottoms were all staples of that trend.
The short skirt peaked in that decade, with icons such as Jane Birkin and Twiggie inspiring their followers to wear shorter hems and taller boots.
But while the hippie movement was prevalent, it didn’t stop people from dressing up, judging by the cool crowd at Studio 54. Satin, off-the-shoulder dresses, jumpsuit and lamé gowns were all the rage, as were crop tops and skirts (thank you Cher).
1970s fashion designers
So many fashion designers defined the 70s fashion era. The late Karl Lagerfeld worked for another major fashion label – Chloé at the time. His vision defined the house’s trademark boho direction, an aesthetic that current designer Clare Waight Keller still nods to today.
What did real women wear in the seventies? Barbara Hulanicki’s London boutique Biba experienced a huge sales boom, selling bell bottom power suits (cat covered, of course) and smock dresses in saturated colours, all at affordable price points. The roots for high street fashion were firmly planted and, thanks to an unrivalled mail ordering service, women around the country were able to experience fast fashion for the first time.
Diane Von Furstenberg made her now-iconic wrap dress in 1974 after setting out to create a relaxed, silk jersey dress that could suit every woman’s body shape with ease. Originally available in a small range of very seventies prints, she was quickly given the cover of business bible Newsweek and declared the ‘most marketable designer since Coco Chanel.’ The magazine was right, and by 1976 Diane had sold over 5 million of the dress worldwide, building a lasting fashion empire in the process. A true seventies icon.
The (now legendary) designer Roy Halston Frowick shot to fame in this decade thanks to his minimalistic draped gowns and his greatest invention, the jersey halter dress. You’d find him at Studio 54 with Elizabeth Taylor on one arm and Liza Minelli on the other.
Women were hooked on Laura Ashley’s romantic silhouettes and floral-drenched prints when it came to getting their 1970s fashion fix. When they were first created, the Edwardian-style dresses and vintage-look fabrics divided opinion amongst the more fashion-forward. ‘They’re not particularly clothes for making a splash in a dramatic place,’ the designer justified at the time. ‘They’re simple garments to wear at home, and when you get home perhaps you need the security of nostalgia.’ Personally, we love them.
The new queen of punk Vivienne Westwood was about to make fashion history when she opened her boutique Too Fast To Live, Too Young To Die on Kings Road in 1971. Two years later, she changed the shop’s name to SEX, turning fetishes into fashion under the catchy tagline ‘rubberwear for the office.’ It was innovative, expressive, and the people loved it – it’s no wonder she ended up becoming one of fashions biggest names.
Who influenced 1970s fashion?
There were many poster girls for 70s fashion, but Joni Mitchell was undoubtedly one of the seventies’ ultimate style icons – and with good reason. She wore tie dye blouses, earth-goddess hair and billowing kaftans like no other, usually completing her trademark look with bare feet and a guitar in hand.
Cher released a whopping 10 albums in the 70s meaning, quite simply, that she was absolutely everywhere. From more-is-more prints to epic perms, she trialled every trend the decade had to offer with gusto, meaning she was seventies fashion personified (and she’s still considered an absolute legend today).
The late David Bowie’s alter ego skewed ideas about gender and fashion in the seventies; the star would perform in spray on leotards, foil flares and a whole lotta face paint. The ultimate style chameleon, Bowie transformed his look again and again throughout his career, but this will always be the moment where he changed 1970s fashion (and beyond) forever.
Post The Supremes, Diana Ross was all about lilac eyeshadow, loose wrap dresses and XXL hoop earrings. Like Cher, she whipped up an incredible nine albums in her first decade as a solo artist and was a key style icon, too. We’re sure the sepia tones and retro wardrobe choices in this picture must have inspired American Hustle?
Elton John, Debbie Harry, Farrah Fawcett and pretty much any celebrity frequenting Studio 54 could be trusted to wow us with their outfits. The list is endless.