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The Look

How To Nail Seventies Style

Down on the French Riviera, we take summer’s key trend for a spin

“Seventies porno chic.” This is actor Mr Guillaume Dolmans’ three-word assessment of the results of MR PORTER’s latest photoshoot, which took place last month in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. To what do we owe this colourful description? The clothes – a selection of knitted polo shirts, thigh-grazing swim shorts, retro-tinged sunglassessuits and suede jackets – can certainly be held accountable for two-thirds of it, specifically “1970s” and “chic”. As for the other third, that surely owes a great deal to his impressive Mr Burt Reynolds-esque moustache.

The moustache lends this Belgian more than a passing resemblance to Mr Ryan Gosling in The Nice Guys, a tongue-in-cheek cop thriller released last year but set in – that’s right, you guessed it – the 1970s. “I still grow one a couple of times a year, though,” says 37-year-old. Having recently relocated from Paris to Los Angeles, his facial hair was immediately put to good use in The Back Of My Mind, a surreal short film by Argentinian director Mr Luciano Podcaminsky, in which he stars as a lonely man carrying around a great weight on his back.

Purely in terms of fashion, there’s no better time to revisit “The Decade That Taste Forgot”. The somewhat unfairly monikered era’s aesthetic feels fresh again, with resurgent pop god Mr Harry Styles leading the charge in satiny doe-skin suits, frilled Burberry shirts and custom-made Gucci flares, a swaggering look to match his new, classic rock-inspired sound.

In another sure sign that the 1970s are rising once more, feel-good fabrics have begun to make a comeback. Brushed suede, lustrous velvet and wide-wale corduroy are reappearing on the runway, providing a plush alternative to the “technical materials” that have become so prevalent over the past few years. In the dog days of high summer, these fabrics are best employed frugally – a velvet side-stripe here, a hint of suede trim there – and worn simply, so as not to overwhelm (or overheat). Imagine a suede-panelled cardigan from Bottega Veneta, thrown over a T-shirt and pair of swim shorts, perfect for traipsing back from a long day at the beach.

Elsewhere, the knitted polo shirt – a refined update on a 1970s icon – has become the summer essential. The polo as we know it today was invented by Mr René Lacoste in the late 1920s, but it wasn’t until 1972, when Mr Ralph Lauren introduced them in the Polo Ralph Lauren line, that it began to make the leap from the tennis court into the weekend wardrobe. Modern interpretations share that leisurely outlook, their softly knitted fabrics adding a tactile quality to this casual staple.

Why have we begun to have such vivid flashbacks of the 1970s? MR PORTER first sought to answer this question two years ago, back in October 2015. At that point, the trend was still in its fledgling stages. The man who has arguably done more than most to bring the trend to the mainstream is Gucci’s creative director and “Renaissance man”, Mr Alessandro Michele. He was only in the job a matter of weeks when the first signs started to emerge in his AW15 runway show in January of that year – all relaxed silhouettes, earthy colours and plush fabrics.

Back then, we made the case that, far from being the decade that taste forgot, the 1970s were actually “the era of the maverick”, a time when filmmakers, movie stars and artists were reacting to economic and political uncertainty by embracing a new sense of fun and flamboyance in the way that they dressed. Four decades on, with the world in a similarly unstable position, that defiant, subversive spirit seems more relevant, and more relatable, than ever.

Were we right? Find out in another two years’ time, by which time we fully expect the moustache to be back in style, too.