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That Seventies Show

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The Seventies are often referred to as the decade that taste forgot. This is unfair, and for anyone who really loves fashion, it's just not true. Granted, between bell-bottoms and cheap polyester, it had moments of caricature, but what decade is fully above reproach? In fact, the Seventies gave us Yves Saint Laurent at the pinnacle of his design genius, the era of Halston and the Halstonettes and women like Bianca Jagger who showed us how a long, louche white pantsuit can be the ultimate in glamour. So how can the Seventies really be that bad?

To designers, the decade is a goldmine of fashion inspiration. Any time there's a lean pant, a high waist, a jersey dress or a platform on the runways, the critics will write, "Seventies-like, 70s-inspired," etc. Take Spring 2011, where the predominant trend off the American and European runways was the Seventies, just updated. In fact, the Seventies actually referenced silhouettes and styles set in the Forties -- a decade that is celebrated for its timeless, classic appeal.

There was so much happening in the Seventies, much of it good. In Paris, Saint Laurent was revolutionizing the way women dressed. In Japan, Issey Miyake and Comme Des Garçons' Rei Kawakubo were exploring new techniques and fabrications that are still in use today. In the U.S., designers were defining classic American sportswear. There were the titans -- Geoffrey Beene, Bill Blass and Halston. This was the decade in which names like Ralph, Calvin, Diane, Oscar and Donna entered our fashion vocabulary. Their ideas are everlasting: great separates, perfectly tailored jackets and trousers, feminine blouses, easy-to-wear dresses and, most importantly for the growing workforce of women at the time, the notion of going from day to evening without a wardrobe overhaul.

Then there were the style icons, those women who were equal parts glamorous and effortless. Bianca Jagger, the Berenson sisters, Julie Christie, Faye Dunaway, Anjelica Huston, Jacqueline Onassis -- the list goes on of women who defined what it was to be chic, whether they were photographed on the street or headed to Studio 54.

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For me, it's personal. The designer Zoran launched his collection in the late Seventies. I have vivid memories of watching my mother get ready for an evening out, wearing her gold lamé Zoran top and pants. For spring, we paid homage to that.