Fringe, suede and BIG gold jewelry is alive and well. It would seem the 1970s is right back in style.
This fall, all over the fashion runways in New York, we saw LOTS of fringe, suede and flares. Toss in autumnal colors and big, bold, gold jewelry and the 70s live!
What drove the fashion aesthetic of the 1970s? The youth and counterculture movement of the 1960s. Think Woodstock, Vietnam, the Civil Rights Movement….all of those events pushed the music and fashion industries to create statement pieces that people wanted to wear. Everything became big and oversized. Think of the hair, the huge bell bottoms and the big, big pieces of gold jewelry. For the first time in history, fashion designers started imitating street life.
Beginning in the early 1970s, there was a mainstream acceptance of the youth movement and the hippie subculture that began in isolated pockets in the mid-1960s. These influences were huge and were seen in politics, sex, fashion, jewelry, film and general attitudes about life. Truthfully, these influences have actually never quite retreated.
Remember the heavy, thick gold chains of the 1970s? The chains would be worn in layers with brightly colored gemstones like turquoise or beaded necklaces. Malachite, lapis lazuli and carnelian were inexpensive and could be purchased in large sizes. Obviously, when working in a large scale, something that is less expensive is desirable. American Indian jewelry ruled and is also having another moment in the spotlight today.
As for yellow gold, the decade was all about the warm colors that dominated the fashion palate in homes and on the runway. There was also the practical aspect for gold’s popularity: it was relatively inexpensive in the early years of the decade.
Before 1971, when President Richard Nixon took the United States off the gold standard, the price of gold was fixed at $35 an ounce. In today’s terms, this would be the equivalent of gold costing about $220 an ounce.
On average, the gold price stayed below $100 an ounce until about 1974, when it began rising in earnest toward the end of the decade, topping $600 an ounce on average by 1980, this is according to historical data from Kitco. Silver became popular at the end of the 1970s because of the price of gold had started to go up.
I think displaying the big, bold jewels was a way of expressing oneself and experimenting with body decoration, much in the way that tattoos are used today.
*Featured photo – Marisa Berenson, the grand-daughter of Elsa Schiaparelli, was a supermodel in the 60’s and 70’s and was photographed by all the master photographers of the time. This Vogue cover was photographed by David Bailey who once declared that she was his dream woman. Diana Vreeland discovered her at age 16. Yves Saint Laurent called her “the girl of the 1970s.” She was also known as “Queen of the Scene” of the 70s. Andy Warhol photographed her wedding. The Vogue cover was shot for the September 1968 issue. The trend was just beginning.