Friday, February 5, 2010

Nostalgia In The 70s - A Vintage Fashion Of Looking Back At More Vintage Fashion

The 1970s started the disco craze, shoulder length hair (remember that Bill Clinton facial hair picture?), polyester suits, and the ubiquitous smiley face. It was the decade that saw the hippie style, the 'streaker' and the romantic, and the strange fad of walking down the street naked!

But it was also a decade when people looked 40 years back into the 1920s and 30s and pined for what might have been. Those were some of the worst years in American history, with the Prohibition, the Great Depression and the Second World War. But the 70s had their Vietnam, and people just wanted to turn the clock back to times they felt might have been better. And they went for the 20s and 30s because they had visual representation of these years, unlike any other day or age, in the silent era movies.

This is the famous “Nostalgia” of the late 60s and the 70s.

When you look 40 years back to the days of your grandparents and parents, you ignore the pain and suffering they might have faced and just focus on the good times you "imagine" that they might have had. This is basic romanticism, and no other era saw this more manifest than in 1967 when Bonny and Clyde came out and Theodore Runkle did the clothes.

They were just sensational, and people just loved the trim, petite Bonnie Parker with the perfect beret and the long skirts. Who cared if she was the nastiest woman to come out of the 1920s with guns blazing that did some of the ugliest crimes of the century? She was sophisticated, she had fire and a good deal of ice; and she was from an era which people just loved to romanticize about.

A 1971 Life Magazine article summed up the mood of the era in a piece called "Nostalgia." The cover showed Rita Hayworth, Ruby Keeler, Paulette Duval, Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford, Betty Garble, 6 silent era actresses, in a heart shape. The article talked about the 1970s revival of the famous 1925 musical "No, No, Nanette," which was a Caesar-Harbach hit from the 1920s that saw 655 Broadway performances.

The 1971 Broadway revival was directed by Busby Berkeley, and legends like Ruby Keeler, Helen Gallagher and others came out of retirement and were featured in it. The musical sparked a great interest in the costume of the 20s and 30s, and almost single handedly produced the Vintage clothing market.

Boutiques like Mr. John revived old classics like the fedora. The hat was wildly popular in the 70s. There were cut-jersey gowns from Halston, like the ones movie stars used to wear in the 30s. These, too, became highly popular.
It was a wonderful era. People were throwing away the gloom of the wars, and trying out a mod approach.

But even while they were doing that, they were discovering inspiration in the fashion of days gone by. Bell bottoms, hot pants, gypsy dresses and t-shirts - the fashion statements of the 1970s - can all be traced back to this nostalgic view of the 1920s, and to some latter day adaptations of things our great grandmas would readily recognize as their own.

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