Vintage Style: 1970s Fashion Designers

The styles of the early 1970s continued and in some cases exaggerated those of the late '60s -- low-rise, bell-bottom jeans, bright colors, mini skirts and a relatively tight-fitting silhouette. Bohemian style wasn't for everyone, but it had a significant presence throughout most of the decade -- boots, scarves, capes and shawls, patterns, peasant tops and maxi skirts reflected this trend.

By 1975, colors had toned down and the trend toward earth tones had begun, with brown, khaki and olive drab rising. And the clothes were definitely loosening up. Layering was big, and so were boots.  By the end of the '70s, clothes were trending back into more fitted territory, with tailored suits making a comeback after a decade that focused on more casual looks. Skirts hit at about the knee, heels got higher, and shoulders got wider -- a foreshadowing of the '80s. Black, white, red and gray joined the still-popular earth tones in the color palette. 

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Halston

The definitive designer of the 1970s, Halston created almost every popular dress seen on the dance floors. His designs were perfect for dancing because of their draped and free-flowing construction without buttons or zippers. The jersey halter and one-shoulder style dress were his most copied. Halston designed for many celebrities and was one of the first major designers to license his name, making his clothes more accessible to everyone.

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Missoni

Missoni-Vintage-1970s-Silk-Caftan-Shrimpton-Couture.jpeg
Courtesy of ShrimptonCouture.com

This Italian fashion design house was born in 1953 and made its first American appearance at Neiman Marcus. The brand is best known for knitwear and its bold, bright space-dyed weave patterns. The Missoni zigzag pattern knit is instantly recognizable and made the name Missoni a fashion icon.

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Diane von Furstenberg

1970s Diane von Furstenberg Wrap Style Top and Matching Skirt. Image courtesy of VintageVixen.com

Diane von Furstenberg will forever be remembered as the designer who made the jersey wrap dress a wardrobe essential. Though the kimono-inspired wrap dress is her trademark, von Furstenberg broadly influenced fashion by establishing a standard for ease and comfort in women’s clothing. Von Furstenberg's robe-like design was a major '70s trend and copied by many mainstream fashion labels. Newsweek called von Furstenberg "the most marketable designer since Coco Chanel" because of the success of her iconic wrap dress.

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Thea Porter

Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty

Thea Porter was a half French, half English designer who grew up traveling the world. She translated her multi-cultural ethnic experiences into clothing that inspired the bohemian look of the 1970s. Her design career began with her own extensive textile collection and a Middle Eastern import shop in London. Porter made caftans and maxi dresses, often out of antique materials like voile, velvet, chiffon and brocade.

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Bill Gibb

Bill Gibb had a tremendous influence on the '70s and was a perpetuator of its trademark hippie styles. He mixed prints, textures and embellishments with ethnic, medieval and romantic influences and shapes of the past, like full-length skirts and billowing sleeves. The '70s slang "far out" fits Gibb to a "T." The influence of close friend and artist and textile designer Kaffe Fassett inspired the wild use of color and pattern in his designs.