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How the Other Half Live: The revival of seventies beauty

February 25th 2014 / Christa D'Souza


The seventies are back in fashion - forget Abba, though, thankfully it's the centre partings and make-up that are making a reappearance. Christa D'Souza looks back at her favourite era

Everyone has a favourite style decade; mine is the seventies. It had some dodgy things about it, I’ll grant you - The Bay City Rollers, The Mullet and Abba (sorry, loathe Abba) amongst them. But there were some staggeringly, heartbreakingly fabulous things that came out of it too. Unearth the cover of Time, January 11th 1971 and you’ll see what I mean.

Got it? It’s entitled The Return To Romance, and features a painting of Ali McGraw, on the back of her newly released film Love Story. “She doesn’t have to be hungry or an actress,” the journalist coos, “She just has to stand there, and people buy tickets. The clean-boned, finishing-school face, the large, liquid eyes that cannot express doubt, the barely upholstered model’s body, the metallic purr…”

Sigh. What a style icon for the ’70s McGraw became, with that centre parting and those bushy eyebrows and those chocolate-y, saturnine eyes. God-dang did she have it, but then so did a lot of those ’70s chicks. What about Lauren Hutton in her Estee Lauder heyday, with that gap between her teeth and those tantalising, very slight boss-eyes? What about Farrah Fawcett before her hair got too “Mall Rat”? What too of Charlotte Rampling, with those heavy lidded sapphire eyes?

Hutton, Fawcett, Eve Plumb from The Brady Bunch and let’s not forget the late great Karen Black; they all had it in spades. So, in a very English way, did the posh model duo, Rachel Ward and Clio Goldsmith (who later, FYI, married Camilla Parker Bowles’ buccaneering, elephant-loving brother Mark Shand). The uniting factor? It’s hard to quantify. Freckles, possibly and/or an apparent disregard for sun protection. A tomboyishness. But also a naturalness and a confidence, the kind you can’t contrive without feeling it on the inside.


How nice it is, then, for those of us d’un certain age, to see that somewhat indefinable but super sexy look make a reappearance. Balmain, Tommy Hilfiger, Jonathan Saunders, Etro, these are just a few of the labels who’ve gone in that direction on beauty. Then of course there is Diane Von Furstenburg, the queen of ’70s style. If anybody can recreate the whole centre-parted, sunkissed preppie/hippy look down pat, it should be her.


Tommy Hilfiger, Blumarine SS14

So then. How to tap into it?

It could be argued, very credibly, that one needs to be under the age of 30 to achieve the look. Sorry to have to say this, but there’s a dewiness about pre-thirties skin that no filler, cream, non-surgical or surgical procedure will ever be able to recreate. The whiteness of pre-thirties eyeballs, I’m afraid that’s another thing science will never be able to “grow back”. (Although there ARE these prescription eye drops you can get from a laser eye doctor in London that are meant to be extraordinary, more of which in a column to come).

On the other hand, I’m looking at a picture of Jean Shrimpton in the seventies with her hair in a very loose ponytail, pronounced bags under the eyes, and thinking if you’ve got the bones, if you’ve got the sort of head that can take a centre-parting, if you haven’t got a hang up about wrinkles (so 20th century to worry about wrinkles, it’s the evenness of skin texture that counts)... just maybe.

As for that - here we go, remember this? - lipsmackinthirstquenchinacetastinmotivating goodbuzzincolltalkinghighwalkinfastlivingevergivincoolfizzin GLOW? I would say this. Obviously. But maybe it’s got nothing to do with youth at all.


Etro SS14

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