From Joni Mitchell to Cher, we highlight the greatest icons of 1970s fashion.
An era that’s been revived time and time again on the 21st century catwalk, 1970s fashion was bold and overstated at its best. Continuing the 1960s fashion theme of individual style, flares, platforms, fringing and suede dominated the 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.
From Gucci to Halston, Laura Ashley to Biba, there were plenty of brands making 1970 fashion their own back in the day, giving us hippie chic, power dressing, glam rock and even punk – all within an exceptional 10-year timeframe.
Diane Von Furstenberg ‘s wrap dress
Let’s start with one of the most famous fashion inventions ever: the wrap dress. Diane made her now-iconic wrap in 1974 after setting out to create a relaxed, silk jersey dress that could suit every woman’s body shapewith 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 poster girl of hippie chic, 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.
First rising to musical fame as one half of Sonny and Cher, the star 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).
Halston and the halter dress
Meet the 1970s’ most popular guy; 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.
Speaking of Studio 54… the New York was the Seventies hottest ‘place to be’ bar none. From Andy Warhol to Yves Saint Laurent, anyone who was anyone could be found right here, having the time of their lives every day of the week. Here’s Bianca Jagger riding into her Studio 54 birthday party on a white stallion, just because.
The Osmonds and ALL the seventies trends
Just look at Donny and Marie Osmond. Could they be any more seventies? The fringing, the platforms, the glittering lurex trousers. The Osmond family hit the big time in 1971, becoming clean-cut idols for teens around the world. We said it was fashion, we didn’t say it was always good fashion.
Marie Osmond’s perm
But really, Marie Osmond’s hair in 1974… Hair everywhere reached new heights in the 1970s as full-on perms and disco afros became de rigueur – the bobs that defined 1920s fashion were long gone (for now, at least). Frizz Ease and straighteners weren’t really available to the mass market, and so a lot of people kept their manes like this.
David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust
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.
Diana Ross’ hoop earrings
Post The Supremes, Diana 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?
Karl Lagerfeld at Chloé
Before Karl Lagerfeld became the reigning Kaiser we all know and love at Chanel, he worked for another major fashion label – Chloé. His vision defined the house’s trademark boho direction, an aesthetic that current designer Clare Waight Keller still nods to today. We love the below swimwear look from his 1974 collection, perfectly encapsulating what 1970s fashion was all about.
Bo Derek’s braids
Running along the beach in her nude halter one-piece, Bo Derek’s appearance in hit film 10 earned her pin-up and 1970s fashion icon status for good. Every woman everywhere copied those braids and the movie scene became iconic.
Barbara Hulanicki’s Biba boutique
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.
Margaret Thatcher’s suits
Whether you love her or loathe her, the Iron Lady definitely knew how to make a fashion statement. Her rainbow coloured suits and trademark pussy bow blouses ensured she stood out from the men in suits on every political occasion.
John Travolta and Karen Lynn Gorney in Saturday Night Fever
Saturday Night Fever hit cinemas in 1977 and the world fell head-over-heels in love with disco. John Travolta’s car-salesman suit and Karen Lynn Gorney’s major commitment to ruffles had everyone reaching for their platforms and dancing their troubles away. Nothing quite says seventies like a disco dancefloor, am I right?
Laura Ashley’s florals
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.
Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels
Farrah Fawcett became one of the most celebrated TV icons ever when she took on the role of private investigator Jill Munroe in hit series Charlie’s Angels. She and co-stars Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith defined the working woman’s wardrobe of the 1970s; checkered shirts, skinny rib vests and, of course, a high waisted pair of flares were seventies uniform.
ABBA and flares
Now there’s a pair of flares. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid burst onto the music and fashion scenes in 1972, introducing the UK to the concept of ‘Scandi cool’ for the first time. Their outfits were outrageous (but we loved them) – think sequin hot pants and silver moon boots, or the entire quartet all clad in white kimonos. Just glorious.
Elton John’s glasses
Oh, those tinted glasses. When it came to 1970s fashion, the must-have accessory was a pair of sepia shades, as sported by Elton back then (and pretty much every day ever since). Here he is at Studio 54 with and equally glitzy Diana Ross and Cher. Definite squad goals.
21. Kate Bush
Kate Bush was the seventies’ queen of ethereal performance art, and her outfits were much the same. Her wild and expressive ensembles looked as if they were thrown together at the last minute (in a good way), making them totally achievable for normal girls who copied them with aplomb.
Debbie Harry and denim
Double denim? Hell yes. The denim market completely exploded in the 1970s as a denim shirt and flared jeans were declared the decade’s ultimate casual wear ensemble. Newcomer Debbie Harry caught on to the trend early, just as Blondie took off and the punk era really kicked in. Teamed with lashings of smokey liner and tousled her, she was the epitome of seventies punk.
Vivienne Westwood’s boutique
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.