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"Be Here Now!"  Ram Dass

The 1960s BACK    NEXT  The 1980s


 

The first EARTH DAY April 22, 1970
May 4, 1970 Four students killed at Kent State
Nixon visits China February 1972
June 17, 1972 Watergate break-in
1972 Equal Rights Amendment waits for ratification
October 1972 secret Paris Peace Talks fail 
1973 Supreme Court rules it's a woman's right in the case of Roe vs. Wade
October 10, 1973 Vice president Agnew resigns after bribery charges
August 8, 1974 Nixon resigns the Presidency
August 9, 1974 Gerald Ford is sworn into office, the first president who had never been elected as Vice-president
April 30, 1975 The Vietnam War officially ends
1975 The Oil Embargo Begins
1976 Carter wins the election
1978 The Energy Crisis forces gasoline rationing
March 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear disaster
November 1979 Hostage crisis at U.S. Embassy in Iran


 

Many of the young men and women at the beginning of the decade were quickly polarized by the War in Vietnam. and as the seventies progressed, fashion became increasingly individualistic. 

Author Tom Wolf called the 1970s the Me Decade, since each individual started wearing his or her own personal style that best characterized themselves.  In fact, it was this decade above all others, where there was a strong feeling for semiotics; the concept of dress as an indication of social mores and lifestyle-choices. As always, the cutting edge fashion came from the streets.

Newer contemporary clothing was mixed with items from the past, finally acknowledging vintage clothing as a source of treasure.  Ethnic clothing, specifically; national costumes and shawls, East Indian prints, Mexican embroidered dresses and tie dye colors were all acceptable, even when worn together. 

The seventies  represented the first true fashion trends that came straight from the streets rather than the undercurrents of designer propaganda.  This is also the first time in history that women's pant suits were accepted as stylish day, evening and bridal wear, with the term 'hip huggers" and "bell bottoms" considered fashion forward.

Wedding fashion was very romantic with a medieval flair.  Christos created supremely beautiful gowns with hand clipped lace and beaded pearl, surpassing all other designers in the Area of European elegance and amount of lace on his gowns.  He is by far the most unsung of 1970s wedding wear designers, and perhaps nearly the best along with John Burbidge.  The seventies were an exciting time for Bridal wear, and many young designers became successful, such as Frank Masandrea and Jim Hjem.

 

 

Cheryl Tiegs Cover of Bride's

 

 

 

By 1973, most gowns featured a "dust ruffle," that encircled the hemline about twelve inches above the bottom hem, favoring the country look with some gowns pairing a matched a ruffled "bib" in the front of the bodice.  Soft picture hats in Gone with the Wind garden wedding style added matching interest and shoes were Mary Janes with a square cut toe and a chunky heel.  This style lasted until 1974 when new man made fabrics were introduced.

The transition to disco influenced clothing began around 1975 and by 1976 the tide had turned from the stiff, structured gowns to the stretch polyester double knit, heralded as the fabric of the future.  The 1977 release of  Saturday Night Fever, firmly supported the fabric as fluid, drapeable and sexy and wedding gown manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon.

Danskin, formerly a professional dance apparel company, saw their leotards fly out the door, and more than likely the buyer wasn't a real dancer.  The most famous double knit was worn by Farrah Fawcett of Charlie's Angels, whose winged flip and soft cascading hairdo was now the "in" hair. 

With the use of Dupont's miracle fiber Qiana, double knit gowns were overwhelmingly featured as the best choice for the modern bride and enjoyed immense popularity from 1977 until the end of the decade.  Gowns featured flowing drop back capelets and batwing sleeves and were mostly empire busted and featured trains that could be easily bustled.  Hemlines fell as fabric draped.


By 1979, designers such as
Bill Schad and Miss Hilda specialized in the empire styled Qiana knit gown with three dimensional venise lace embellishment.  Companies like Bridal Originals and Joelle featured them almost exclusively.  The stretch knit fit comfortably and was lined throughout the bodice and skirt for modesty.  Most of the gowns had a skirt fabric circumference of nearly 20 feet of Qiana, which gave the appearance of being wrapped like a Grecian Goddess.

At Right: a 1970s double knit gown with attached Pallium hood head covering that served as a veil for the ceremony.  The Bridesmaid's gown also has a hood but was created out of blood red velvet.

Without a doubt, the one change to fashion at the end of the decade was the societal craving for anything designer.  Fueled by the Studio 54 disco set, Americans had an insatiable need to label themselves as hip and cool,  and designers provided the impetus to join their clan of exclusivity.  Consumer's bought a designer's name rather than a style, a trend of  superficiality that mushroomed into the eighties and portend of the unconscious consumerism to come...

 

At Left: Venetian lace trimmed Veil and double knit gown by Bill Schad 1979

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