The Reason Designers Are Reviving '60s & '70s Style Is Deeper Than Expected
Major throwbacks await.
For those who want to reminisce on the ‘60s and ‘70s, you don't have to look hard: Instagram today is teeming with mid-century modern interiors, while TV series like The Crown and Firefly Lane offer to walk back the clock to the late 20th Century. Old-meets-new is also shaping up to be the mood when it comes to spring 2021 fashion trends. This season, designers gave scores of nostalgic trends from the '60s and '70s a second life. Make room in your closet accordingly, as a fresh assortment of pointed-collared oxfords and wide-leg trousers are about to add verve to your wardrobe.
Labels small (Supriya Lele) and large (Saint Laurent) iterated upon both decades for their spring collections, releasing sunglasses tinged with warm yellows or mod miniskirts in saturated hues. Whether prompted by an aversion to modern times or otherwise, everyone seemed to be thinking about the past. "The ‘60s embraced youthful, energetic, and colorful styles. '70s trends are a personal favorite ... it can be as simple as a striped t-shirt and oversized aviators," says Libby Page, Senior Market Editor at Net-A-Porter. "This democratic approach makes it easy for anyone to tap into, and is always a widely recognized trend when it returns."
While often associated with the effortless, free-spirited disposition of its then-wearers, flared jeans, circle skirts, and disco collars all rose to popularity during severe times. Through both decades, the Vietnam War effort, the resounding anti-war protests, and the Civil Rights movement were unfolding across the U.S. Notwithstanding the hardships and darkness of the era, beauty still bloomed. The masses delighted in colorful, joyful silhouettes.
First, ‘60s-era kaleidoscopic minidresses with eye-catching cutouts were seen as a rebellion against “model femininity” of the ‘50s, whose ideal standard of beauty centered fussy, proper garments. Then, in the ‘70s, long, beaded talismans, cool suiting, and oversized frames embraced an appetite for androgynous dressing that was evolving with the LGBTQ+ and feminist movements. Through both decades, colors and prints were in no shortage. Amid circumstances where taking solace in demure silhouettes would have made perfect sense, style icons and everyday fashion fans alike went the other way — refusing to be invisible.
Each of the trends making a return for Spring 2021 mimics that same journey — they're designed to joyfully defy the tenor of the times. The mod fashion fad of the '60s is back with gusto, emerging at Miu Miu with geometric skirts and again at Maisie Wilen, through cut-out dresses. Style-watchers are also seeing an uptick of retro-boho trends from the '70s, present in Dior and Kenneth Ize's collections, as well as those who frequently riff on nostalgia, like Gucci and Staud.
"The '60s and '70s are periods I constantly revisit," Silvia Tcherassi, the designer behind her eponymous label, tells TZR of her Spring/Summer 2021 collection. "There is something about the era that captivates and inspires." Sarah Staudinger, CFDA-nominated designer behind Staud, agrees: "The '60s and '70s celebrated self-expression. I think after months at home, everyone is ready to embrace and express themselves through fashion again," says Staudinger.
Before you peruse this season's throwback trends, Page has a bit of shopping advice: "Think about the items you already own and how you can give them a quick refresh. Layering pieces are great for styling and can elevate any look. [Consider] investing in accessories that are timeless [that] will last in your wardrobe now and for a lifetime," she shares.
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Popularized by Mary Quant in 1960 (the debate on whether or not she was its true creator continues today), the miniskirt will forever be emblematic of the decade, rearing its head for Spring 2021 through leggy overall dresses at Isabel Marant, midriff-flossing skirts at Supriya Lee, and geometric minis at Miu Miu. "Mini length dresses and skirts are key styles for SS21 and we’re seeing bright, bold colors really resonating with our customers for spring," adds Page.
The cutout trend that erupted into popularity last summer via favorites like Cult Gaia's Serita dress is only amping up for spring — this time, through mod silhouettes like Maisie Wilen's mini dresses, which '60s icon Twiggy would surely approve of. Bezva imbued the open back cutout into its butter-hued crêpe de chine dress, while Ottolinger went for its signature entangled look with trapezoidal openings. Whether your sense of style is more Grace Kelly or more Grace Jones, there's a cutout-spattered look to suit your taste.
'60s: Circle Skirts
Prada's impressive assortment of circle skirts with cutout knits made the trend impossible to ignore on the runways this season. Alaïa's crocheted styles summoned the '60s with intricate detailing, as did Silvia Tcherassi’s, which channeled the airy silhouette into dresses that'd fit into a poolside tableau. (Tcherassi mined inspiration from '60s-era photographer, Slim Aarons.)
'70s: Yellow-Lens Sunglasses
Frames with lenses tinted yellow (a major color trend for spring) were omnipresent on the runways. Much of Saint Laurent's collection featured '60s-centric florals, as to connect with the optimism of the decade — but its eyewear options were an unmistakable homage to the '70s. Also featuring sunny lenses, Tom Ford presented a selection that was aviator-like in shape, citing a documentary about Pat Cleveland, Donna Jordan, and other ’70s models as his inspiration. With its unimpeachable knack for throwbacks, Gucci also delivered some inspiring acetate styles for spring, which were slightly bulkier than the rest.
'70s: Disco Collar
Worn outside of a suit jacket for added '70s flair, pointed collars made a huge splash in Fall/Winter 2020 collections (Bottega Veneta's instantly comes to mind) — and they're sticking around for spring. Off-White's flavorful mint blazer and floral blouse make striking use of the trend, as did Gucci's checkered suit moment from its episodic series, "OUVERTURE of Something that Never Ended". Styling idea: try "layering a turtleneck underneath a shirt with fun patterns," Page adds. Batsheva seems to have taken that tip in stride.
'70s: Long, Layered Necklaces
Bidding adieu to the '90s-era chokers that percolated through seasons prior, necklaces are getting longer and lankier, with statement pendants that pack a punch of '70s chic. Chanel spliced pearls with gold chains and gemstones in coral and amethyst hues, while Dior employed glass beads and resin animal motif charms. Chloé's "Femininities" necklace features a single pendant, apropos of a Cycladic idol.
'70s: Wide-Leg Pants
Wide-leg trousers that hug the waist and flare out from the hip were all over the runways, from Ulla Johnson's textured styles to Kenneth Ize's fringed silk pairs. Staud's version comes in a co-ord, whose spherical embellishments reconcile the precise symmetry of the '60s with the cuts of the '70s.