FASHION / Come back, Bianca, all is forgiven

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The Independent Culture
UNLIKELY though it might seem to anyone who remembers the horrors of Seventies fashion, the new, revamped versions currently working their way into the shops are unexpectedly desirable. It can't simply be a question of nostalgia - after all, there are some eras which defy being looked at through rose-tinted spectacles, and the Seventies is one of them. It's more that something has shifted in fashion's aesthetic. The casual 'down-dressing' of the past two years is starting to look boring, and the calculated matt-black sensibilities that dominated fashion before that just look timid and oppressive viewed from 1992.

But why do the Seventies, for so long reviled, look right now? First, because people are learning to mix shades and patterns again - as testifed by the thousand-and-one copies of the Versace printed shirt that flooded the high street - and second, because there is no longer, generally, a wish to be defined solely by how tasteful you are (a preoccupation with good taste these days reeks of anally-yuppies). Instead, people like to be seen as witty, imaginative, resourceful even - which is why the bohemian element inherent in Seventies-inspired clothes is making them so appealing.

In any case, for the most part what we are seeing is a selective filleting of the decade: mercifully few tank-tops and Afghan coats, and plenty of bold, slouchy tailoring, crushed velvets and vivid colours. There is also a realigning of proportions - a lean, fitted top and more fluid bottom half - that looks suprisingly elegant. Given this brand of revisionism, the new patron saint of style is clearly not going to be Jane Fonda or one of Pan's People but the impeccable Bianca Jagger; she of the leather gangster coats, the white tuxedo suit that stole the show at her wedding to Mick in 1971, and the eyeshadow made from real gold. (I was so inspired by this last nugget that, like thousands of other teenagers, I immediately raided the Just 17 counter at Boots for something as close to crushed gold as I could find.)

Since her heyday as a fashion lodestar, Bianca has become extremely serious; those glittering black eyes are now fixed firmly on political advancement (and finishing her studies at film school) rather than her wardrobe. But old habits die hard. She once said, during her divorce proceedings, that 'clothes are my only capital', and to underscore the point, she has kept most of them, stored in a warehouse outside New York. A professional narcissist, she has said that style is 'knowing what suits you and what are your assets. Accentuate the assets and make of the flaws assets'. Anyone borrowing from the Seventies take note.-

(Photographs omitted)