I shared the a photo from a 1977 episode of The Brady Bunch Hour on my Instagram a few days ago and subsequently fell down the rabbit hole of 70s style nostalgia. I'm very excited about this decade making a reappearance, all flares, feathers and fun; the antithesis to the resurgence of 90s minimalism which has taken a stronghold over the past few seasons.
My first real awareness of the 70s and all of its charms was when I was around 10. I discovered T-Rex thanks to the Billy Elliot soundtrack and also asked for 'Abba Gold: Greatest Hits' for Christmas around the same age. (I absolutely cannot recall why I decided I was an Abba kind of girl but I played 'Voulez-Vous' and 'Does Your Mother Know' a lot). While I don't mind a bit of Abba from time to time, my love for T-Rex has never wavered and they are a regular feature on my Spotify playlists.
There's something about the extravagance and showmanship of 70s dressing that is so different to today's definition of 'cool'. Cool is now synonymous with being understated, and looking effortless. "Oh, yeah, I just threw this shit together and it turned out perfect". It's a perfectly acceptable way of dressing but I'm more drawn to a style that calls for a feather boa or a sequin embellishment. Marc Bolan is my ultimate in 'laid back style'. Laid back enough not to look out of place lounging on a tour bus but dressed up enough to be able to step on stage at any moment.
|1976 Formula One World Champion James Hunt|
Of course, in the 70s, male pop and rock stars dressed somewhat more extravagantly than our modern day straight-out-of-the-manual heart throbs, so I do wonder how this trend will translate over to the male general public. Teeny topknots, Huaraches, and t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up just.won't.go.away. and I can't see your average guy in satin patchwork trousers or a one legged catsuit but LC:M is in full swing and the runway is a good place to start in terms of seeing how a trend will be relayed to the buying public. It's doubtful it will embraced head to toe but separate elements will be. Checks, wider lapels, turtle necks, and tank tops could all make their way into a wardobe without too much fuss, so I've taken a look at how the 1970s have been embraced for AW15...
Topman Design is, clearly, the collection that stands out as the ultimate throwback collection; not using the decade as an inspiration point so much as designing a pretty accurate reproduction. It has everything: flares, wide lapels, fur, shearling, denim, big coats, slimline shirts, turtle necks, tank tops, psychedelic prints, Formula One style overalls (the 70s was a fast, dangerous golden era for the sport), patches, and Bay City Rollers-esque tartan check.
While Topman paid full homage to the decade, Todd Lynn took a hybrid approach with a punk meets grunge collection. Black bob-topped models walked to the sounds of punk band Slaves playing live at the start of the runway. Subtly flared hems, fur coats and bare chests suggested a glam rock influence whereas long line knits and extra long sleeves were they key to adding a little grunge into the mix.
J.W. Anderson is no stranger to throwing a little (or a lot of) femininity into his designs - I can picture David Bowie rocking up on stage in any number of J.W. Anderson get ups - so this is an era that sits comfortably within his vision. 70s men (well, some...) weren't afraid of a stacked heel, a silk scarf, or a dab of glitter, just as the J.W. Anderson man doesn't fear a strapless top or a frilled hemline.
Split seam flares, wide, spread collars, extra wide cuffs and high necks make up a lot of his AW15 offering at a first glance or a quick scroll through, but upon revisiting you notice the scooped necklines of the velvet jackets, the knit bodices layered over shirts, even the deep hemlines. Fur and shearling make another appearance, but here it sits against red and purple leather, colour blocked chenille, pastel corduroy and exquisite, sculptural buttons, zips, and buckles.
Newcomer and oft proclaimed one to watch, Grace Wales Bonner further diversified and developed the theme in her Fashion East presentation. Exploring black history, heritage and culture, her reference points are solid and her dedication to exploring and expanding upon the subject is clear in her thoughtful design and her eloquent responses when questioned about her influences.
1970s radical black poetry was one such solid reference point so, yes, the 70s shine through here in the flared leg lines, high waists and the styling of the tuxes, but this collection is anything but one dimensional. Based largely around the history of "how black people were represented in paintings in the 19th century, and how that manifests itself today", there is also the exploration of homosexuality and the gentleness of a relationship between two men, a look at the 20s and the renaissance, and a clear nod to opulence and excess. Referencing a certain era needn't simply be a lesson in costume design. The ability to reinvent rather than just re-do is absolutely necessary if you're going to take something old and make it new again.
|Topman Design AW15 (Images - Fucking Young)|
Todd Lynn AW15 (Images - Fucking Young)
|J.W. Anderson AW15 (Images - Fucking Young)|
|(Image - i-D)|
|Grace Wales Bonner AW15 (Images - Showstudio)|