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There is a logical, mathematical explanation for why the 70s have been pronounced chic by Paris fashion week. The 90s are the new 70s, you see, and the 70s are the new 50s. It goes like this. When the 70s were the recent past, they were cringe-makingly close to home, and therefore easy to poke fun at. Now, the 90s are the relatively recent past – and so 90s revivalism has become fashion’s go-to gag.

Chunky trainers, bucket hats, slip dresses, crop tops, hoodies: these are all played for laughs. The 70s, meanwhile, have slipped into rose-tinted memory, the embarrassing parts forgotten along the way. The decade is coming to stand for classic chic, in the way that the 50s previously did before being consigned to ancient history.

This 70s rehabilitation has been quietly happening for a little while. There is a look that radiates outward from the catwalks of Chloé and Isabel Marantinto the audience, loyally repped at Paris fashion week by many French Vogue staffers. It centres on wide-legged white jeans or long pleated skirts, loose trench coats and chunky-heel burgundy boots, snake-effect saddle bags and long, shaggy hair.

Forget purple loon pants. Forget hippy chic, forget John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. This take on the 70s is part Charlie perfume ad, part Bianca Jagger in an Yves Saint Laurent trouser suit and part Boogie Nights. It is a tight slogan T-shirt, a good pair of aviator shades, a silk scarf, knotted at the throat. There is not a bell bottom or a hand-painted daisy in sight

The 70s became headline news in Paris this week because of Hedi Slimane at Celine. To recap, everyone was really upset with Slimane last season for swapping out Old Céline (the “ceramicist with a private income” look) for New Celine (unreconstructed groupie chic).

This week, instead of going back to Old Céline, he went to Old Old Celine – an ultra-bourgeois late-70s version of what ladylike looks like, with attitude and great wedge boots. And – again, to precis – the fashion industry looked at the collection and thought: ‘That’s exactly what I want to wear.’

The 70s references that matter now cluster at the later end of the decade, edging into the 80s.

To get a sense of the wide spread of coordinates of this look, consider that Studio 54 closed only one year before the engagement of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. So the look is one part Manhattan debauchery to one part Sloane Ranger.

Updated: June 11, 2019 12:24 PM

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