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At the stroke of the 1970s, movements of individuality swept over London. With the British Empire on its last round of a downward spiral, England’s capital city transformed into the cosmopolitan metropolis it is today, but not without a hearty push from the revitalized and unprecedentedly independent world of street style.
Born of 1970s London were some of fashion’s greatest icons. Jean Shrimpton and Jane Birkin pioneered the effortless, ambiguously Western European sense of style, which informs a huge majority of today’s major trends. Woven handbags, uncomplicated fringe, and an embrace of imperfection overtook the style of the time, offering an excess of inspiration to some of Europe’s prominent fashion maisons at the time. Of course, Hermès’ Birkin bag was named for none other than Jane herself.
King’s Road in London saw generations of style transitions as the sight of many designers first or flagship stores. One of which began an entire subculture of style: mod. Mary Quant’s print-heavy, psychedelic designs dressed some of the major “It” girls and pop culture icons of the time, from Twiggy to John Lennon. In the 1970s, Quant’s pieces became mainstays in the wardrobes of fashion-forward Londoners and remained at the forefront of those setting the tone for the decade’s trends.
Due to the nature of the decade and its emphasis on self-expression, a variety of familiar looks can be seen as quintessentially ‘70s. In London, punk, hippie, bohemian, and disco all reigned. Some icons of the time, namely David Bowie, found individuality in a combination of aspects of each. To have reverence for the style of 1970s London is to revere the cultures and ways of life that made it what it was at the time––what made each style, in particular, its own movement of expression.
Here, we embrace this reverence and take a look at some of the looks and fashion moments that embody the freedom and liberation of London in the 1970s.