Fashion in the early 1970s built on the decorative freedom of the later sixties to produce a riot of vibrantly patterned extravagant clothing for both men and women. Styling flaunted a range of brash features, including tightly fitted shirts or blouses, vast lapels and collars, trousers with huge flares and figure-hugging waists, and clumpy platform shoes. Men once again became peacocks, as flamboyant as the Restoration fop or the Regency dandy, happy to stand out in gaudy garments. New types of fabric were used such as cheesecloth for shirts, or plush for jackets and suits (see main picture), whilst English designers like Ossie Clark, Mr Fish, Malcolm Hall and Tommy Nutter produced superbly tailored and yet imaginative outfits for their wealthier London male clientele (see suit below).
Womenswear was just as bold and colourful, although increasingly a new rural pastoralism or rusticism became popular, typified by the retro floral prints on full cotton blouses, skirts and dresses retailed by Laura Ashley throughout the 1970s. In a similar vein, couture designers like Gina Fratini and Zandra Rhodes also looked to a romanticised historicism, producing fantasy outfits for evening and cocktail wear, in rich silks and satins, and incorporating techniques like smocking and trimmings like lace and ribbon.
Full item descriptions:
"lounge suit" [1985.167], Fox of London
"shirt" [1973.234], Laurance, Justin
"shirt" [1985.204], Cheesecloth
"lounge suit" [1998.165], Nutter, Tommy
"lounge suit" [1986.188], Hall, Malcolm
"dress & pinafore" [1998.113], Laura Ashley
"trouser suit" [1998.160], Rhodes, Zandra
"ball dress" [1990.108], Fratini, Gina
"coat" [2000.70], King Street furriers