Fashion week in Milan just ended and what I loved the most about it was its retrospective of 1970s style.
Valentino’s light gowns, Gucci’s super chic and aggressive jeans, head to toe look, the sophisticated chiffon dresses of Pucci and Armani all awakened the desire of going back to the seventies.
And so I was wondering why have we come to appreciate these designers’ choice?
They feel of course the uncertainty in the social environment, as we’re living an economical and political moment which is very similar to that of the seventies.
Then: the uncertainty of a generation
What draws me to compare the social scenario of now and then it’s the tremendous crisis faced in 1970s as well, an apprehension that crippled England causing jobless figures as the words of Margaret Thatcher explained: ”We have lived like the heirs of an estate that could not be depleted, until we awoke one morning to find the bailiffs at the door.”
A look back at 1970′s fashion gives a clear view of the deep uncertainty that bothered that young generation, who was a long way from gaining confidence about its place in the world.
All the layers that defined the mainstream fashion look of the decade spoke in some way about protection.
The short skirt over the long skirt, the cropped sleeves over the wrist lenght, the dresses with tabards and aprons were all a regression into the past.
Retro mania filled wardrobes with flea-market finds of sequins and feathers, while all over the world girls and boys went to the disco with long loose jackets with padded shoulders, high-waisted trousers and platform shoes, all inspired by the 1940s style.
Now: back to a comfortable past
Today the galore of flea-markets and the pure obsession for vintage clothes is again a way to recover the past. This goes hand in hand with an equal obsession and crave for the new. The lack of balance in this behaviour is what I feel reveal the same uncertainty that bothered past generations, at times when fashion was considered a sort of pure escapism from the difficulties of the moment.
Isn’t fashion now a regression into a not so forgotten past? The past is even more present than we can imagine in today’s trends, due to a stall of designer’s ideas, and also due to the idea that the past is something safe and definite.
Not by chance 1970′s fashion is the trend of the moment, especially in Italy, that’s experiencing a difficult time of economical crisis.
During the 70′s fashion remained in denial until the 80′s when the punk riot exploded. It wasn’t enough even when in 1976 women dared to wear tuxedo instead of gowns and mannish tweed jackets for the day. It was finally in 1979 that Vogue proclaimed “The decade of onion dressing is over”.
But could we really hope in a punk-like revolution to bring a breath of fresh air, in a difficult and restless economical and social situation as well in a stale creativity on the catwalks?
For next season we’re going to lull us into the memory of a bygone decade. A solid past is much more comfortable, than an inscrutable future.
My final thoughts
I’d like to ask you a question and know what you think about that.
Even if Milan fashion shows were so glamorous and detailed, they’re representing a form of escapism from a reality that we don’t see..or that we don’t want to see?