September 18, 1970. In Italy the law dealing with divorce came into effect, and was a clear symptom of profound cultural change. In the United States, as a reaction to the absurdity of the war in Vietnam, there came Flower Power, which saw legendary singers meeting at the Woodstock festival.
Founded by the innovative ideas that spread in the late sixties, seventies fashion took the form of a real movement. The hippies wore loose shirts and long, transparent tunics, bright colors, giant flowers, jewelry of all types and exotic clothing. The hair became increasingly unkempt in a tangle of curls. This look was a little ragged beyond fashion – official anti-fashion became a true symbol of freedom.
Even the feminist movement of those years identified with the long skirts, dresses purchased for pennies at flea markets, etc. Fashion was also connected to fashionable political ideas: the jeans, the Ray Ban, the Timberland brought by those who were first in Milan, Italy, then across, paninari were defined, namely the right of young people. On the left hand there were used crumpled jeans, sunglasses, a few pounds, cut off shirts and sweaters and natural leather satchels.
Elio Fiorucci was the first in Italy that picked up against this kind of fashion made of rags. Started from a modest store of slippers inherited from his father, within a few years in Milan he created a large-store bazaar. He realized that the mark could be a key element to attract the attention of young buyers, and invented his own: two Victorian cherubs bearing heavy sunglasses. His store was also a meeting point where you could find everything: clothes finished badly, [rafts] which were high and dangerous, sweatshirts, jeans, but also very colorful gadgets. He was responsible for the introduction of elasticized fabric in fashion, which allowed him to invent suitable close fitting suits for disco-dancing.
The fashion houses suffered from fleeing customers. Besides, a wave of strikes hit many industries in 1970-75, and several of those working in related clothing industries were forced to close. To save themselves from the crisis almost all the fashion houses jumped on the “ready”, the bridge which gradually started to become a performance and sometimes crazy expensive, but also produced useful products to market more normal client although they were expensive. By now you could not talk about just fashion, but fashions. Among these ethnic fashions, you could see in the street a variety including odalisques, Indian, Chinese and Peruvian. And there was the explosion of knitwear, of which the French designer Sonia Rykiel was considered the queen. In the wake of feminism there were layers upon layers of knitted hats, scarves, leg warmers. Among the changes, at the very beginning of the period, there were the Hot pants, shorts, skirts and much shorter than that leaving entirely uncovered legs.
But the most important couturier of the period was Yves Saint Laurent. Erudite, passionate and an imaginative artist, he understood that new ideas can also come from the street. Innovator of the female wardrobe, he applied to several women leaders, clothes which were traditionally male, such as the tuxedo, the trench coat, the knickerbockers and pantsuits. With an eye also to folklore, he created a collection of famous and sumptuous clothes based on the Russian-style, then another in the Chinese style. Finally, several of his collections were inspired by the art world, from pop to Cubism (Picasso paintings) in fauvism. In the sixties he opened a popular chain of fashion stores called Rive Gauche, but over time his style became more and more precious and theatrical.