It’s hard to take the ’70s seriously. The decade is usually reduced to a shag-carpeted, bell-bottomed punch line, parodied for its tacky consumer culture by shows like VH1’s “I Love the ’70s” or websites like Plaid Stallions. While the ’70s did include more than its share of garish colors and over-the-top looks, such bold moves were necessary to break free from a cautious, cookie-cutter society. Among other things, the 1970s gave people the freedom to dress however they chose, paving the way for flip-flops at the office.
The rigid social norms of the 1950s mostly collapsed during the ’60s, spawning a decade in which people felt free to express their individuality, even as they borrowed from a slew of historic references and ethnic influences. Contemporary trends like eco-chic, native craftwork, vintage revivalism, gender-bending androgyny, or DIY thrift-shop fashion all originally flourished during the 1970s. Above all, the decade was full of experimentation.
When writers Dominic Lutyens and Kirsty Hislop met in London during the late 1980s, they bonded over their love of ’70s culture, listening to albums like Giorgio Moroder’s “From Here to Eternity” and poring over vintage copies of “Vogue.” After recognizing a general neglect of the 1970s’ creative output, they spent years researching the period’s overlooked innovations.
The result was 70s Style & Design, a book that’s particularly relevant as ’70s trends continue to influence fashion, from Louis Vuitton couture to bargain basement H&M. We spoke with Lutyens, an arts journalist for publications like “Vogue” and “The Observer,” to straighten out some misconceptions of the 1970s.