Mick Jagger’s pout, Iggy Pop’s skintight silver trousers...to celebrate Topman’s AW15 ode to the decade’s cult heroes, we revisit what defined their style
Last season, Topman Design presented a 70s meets 90s collection that had us dreaming of our favourite britpop boys. AW15’s show was an even more direct homage to musical figures: “We looked back at 70s icons, we brought back some of that 70s music,” said design director Gordon Richardson backstage. Flared boilersuits, patchwork fur and foppish Jagger hair were on the brand’s agenda for their LC:M show – perfectly tailoring to the excess of an age of tight jeans, bared chests and beautiful groupie girlfriends. To celebrate the collection, we look back at our top ten 70s icons.
Admittedly, Brian Jones didn’t quite make it to the 70s. Dying six months beforehand – the coroner’s report reading “death by misadventure” – Jones was iconised into that group of tragic musicians lost too young, becoming the first of three on this list to join the notorious 27 club. The original Rolling Stones bandleader was known for his lavish fur coats, dark shades and silk blouses – and his style would set a precedent many would imitate for the decade. It’s in this way that Jones remains a symbol of a time he didn’t even live through. Impressive.
The unbuttoned shirt became a signature for Robert Plant, the Led Zeppelin frontman whose crotch-hugging denim rivalled the obscenity of Jagger’s tight jeans. Rarely pictured on stage without an exposed torso, Plant paired his look with a big buckle belt, cascading blonde curls and, of course, a frenzied and flamboyant onstage performance. Top 70s Plant moment? Riding across the countryside on a black horse in The Song Remains the Same, like some kind of mythical rock prince.
He was the frontman of The Doors that lived and died an enigma – his death in a Paris bathtub remains shrouded in mystery – but who has come to be one of the era’s most instantly recognisable figures, usually imagined arms out, chest bare, hair unruly and cheekbones razor sharp. Here, Morrison is captured by Life magazine – who, trying to understand just what about this moody man that had every teenager in America desperately obsessed with him, ended up witnessing his infamous on stage arrest for indecency – something that would define his rebellious rep for decades to come.
Mick Jagger is the king of 70s decadence. The rock ‘n’ roll lothario and Rolling Stones lead vocalist – with his bee-stung lips and almost androgynous gait – bedded supermodels, had an alleged affair with David Bowie, and redefined masculinity in one fell swoop. In skin-tight flares and floral shirts, (and later, glitter and a glam rock get-up) the 70s Jagger exuded a flamboyancy that allowed him to command the crowd, and the decade too.
When Jimi Hendrix bought a Hussars military jacket from the Portobello Road thrift shop and rock star stomping ground I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet, it became his style staple – an item synonymous with the guitar hero, a subversive statement at a time when young Americans like Hendrix were getting shipped off to Vietnam. This, alongside headband-fashioned-scarves, crushed velvet and bell-bottoms, made the Washington-born musician the paradigm of self assured, rule-breaking 70s cool.
The platform boot wearing space oddity, with an affinity for face paint, became the poster boy for a decade of gender-bending androgyny. With a multi-dimensional style history, the some-time glam-rocker with alter egos aplenty, is the king of reinvention – with a sell out V&A exhibition dedicated to him. It’s hard to pick a defining Bowie style moment – in the 70s alone he went from psych rocker in shearling to Hunky Dory androgyne, Ziggy Stardust and then to a bona fide rebel with an eye patch.
Iggy Pop is often credited with the honourable accolade of popularising stage-diving. Since then, his visceral on-stage demeanour has seen him roll around in broken glass and continue his performance covered in blood and vomit in front of the crowd. In the 70s – the decade where Iggy met Bowie and reformed, and then broke up The Stooges – he was the perma-shirtless, makeup wearing rockstar; epitomising the devil-may-care recklessness that characterised the music of the decade.
The 70s didn’t start off too well for Lou Reed: he’d quit The Velvet Underground (their 1967 debut LP featuring Nico, now widely considered one of the most important albums in recent history, had been a flop) and taken up a job as a typist at his dad’s accounting firm. Thankfully it didn’t last long, and by 1971 he had his first solo album under his belt. The enigmatic Reed was at his best singing about those at their worst, and his look down: black hair, black clothes, black shades (and occasionally, black nail polish).
Syd Barrett was the Pink Floyd band member who wore cravats and frilled shirts, but his dandyish style still maintained a kind of lived-in quality. Despite his relatively fleeting active musical career (like a good few artists of the era, he took a lot of acid and withdrew from the scene, blighted by mental health problems), Barrett’s iconoclastic approach to music-making, combined with his kohl-eyed, haunting demeanour, has made him an enduring influence on popular culture today.
Like many on this list, The Who’s Roger Daltrey – often cited as one of rock’s most charismatic frontmen – likes to take his top off and go out with models. 70s Daltrey was a fringe-loving, tight T-shirt wearing exhibitionist, who monopolised his stage endlessly. For proof of his talents, look no further than 1975’s Tommy, the epic rock opera made film where Daltrey takes the title role as the deaf, mute and blind pinball wizard, commanding so much attention Jack Nicholson and Elton John might as well not be in it.