For the Third or Fourth Time, The ’70s Are Back. It Rules.

As a teenager in the 1990s, I often felt as if I had caught a case of the 1970s. That is, the culture I was being fed—from the Red Hot Chili Peppers borrowing liberally from Funkadelic’s stash to Dazed and Confused to resurgent bell bottoms and ringer t-shirts, among many other touchpoints—had been incubating for nearly two decades. Part of that probably had to do with the children of the ‘70s coming of age, taking the reins and becoming the tastemakers. Part of it, too, was surely the 20-year trend cycle working its magic. And then, in 1997, Paul Thomas Anderson released Boogie Nights, his paean to the porn-y Los Angeles of the era, and managed to recontextualize the whole period.

Another 20 years later, the ‘70s are back again. Anderson’s latest, Licorice Pizza, is similarly set in Southern California in the 1970s. (The director also revisited the decade in his 2014 adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice, meaning 30 percent of his nine films have been based in the decade.) And in that span, almost all of his fellow big-name directors, from Sophia Coppola to Spike Lee to David O. Russell, have paid their own tribute to the decad. And it goes beyond film: music, style, even cuisine has revisited the decade multiple times over in the 42 years since the Seventies ended. It’s usually in fits and starts—Dr. Dre digging through crates full of dusty funk records, That ’70s Show, Patti Smith’s 2010 memoir Just Kids and Rachel Kushner’s 2013 novel The Flamethrowers kicking off a new literary obsession with the era.

Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak suited up as Silk Sonic.

John Esparza

But this time around, the ‘70s have achieved full-on saturation. The feeling is everywhere all at once. It’s Licorice Pizza, but it’s also Bruno Mars and Anderson Paak borrowing heavy from points like the Ohio Players and Smokey Robinson’s A Quiet Storm to make An Evening With Silk Sonic. Jonathan Franzen took a trip back to the ‘70s with this year’s Crossroads. And have you looked at the Instagram account for the “luxury ice cubes” business called Disco Cubes? Luxury ice—an iconically ‘70s bad idea—is the perfect starting point if you want to work your way to getting a Togo sofa, a bunch of palms, and painting over your whitewashed walls in shades or rust and brown.

But maybe more than anything, the’70s are back in our outfits. The ‘70s touch everything these days, from the colors you’ll see dominating Uniqlo’s winter collection to the abundance of Fair Isle sweater vests on the market—exactly the sort that Paul McCartney wore while chilling out on his farm in Scotland after the Beatles broke up. It’s Rod Stewart showing royalty how to pull off a look and I think it’s whatever Russell Westbrook is trying to do here. Corduroy is everywhere, and we can’t get enough of bucket hats. Gucci threw a block party on Hollywood Blvd. with literally everybody you could ask for dressed up like they were about to hit Studio 54.




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