Looking back on a decade
is a fringe activity
for Antonia Charlesworth

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I have 24 minutes to write this column before I need to place a last minute bid on the brown suede fringe jacket I’ve been watching on eBay. I’ll pause Aurora, on repeat on Spotify, so I can focus. If you’ve watched Daisy Jones & The Six on Amazon Prime then you know where I’m coming from. If you haven’t – drop everything and get back to me in 10 hours.

Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the series follows the tumultuous relationships of a fictional rock band in the 1970s and is based on the book by Taylor Jenkins Reid*. If you have fallen in love with Daisy then you will love Nina, Evelyn and Carrie – other leading ladies in the TJR universe who are the Daisys of the surfing, acting and tennis worlds. Her writing is so cinematic and evocative that it’s unsurprising the TV series has captured the hearts – and wardrobes – of viewers. But I’ve just realised that the granny square cardigan I’ve been crocheting in a retro rust palette was not just about doom-scrolling social media less – this is a cultural moment that was already burgeoning.

Since getting used to the comfort of our stay at home wardrobes (and busting the waistlines of our skinny jeans) the 1990s grunge look made a reappearance. I loved it. Seeing young girls liberated from restrictive clothes and favouring baggy t-shirts and combat pants was pure joy. Has anyone worn stilettos or underwired bras since the Christmas parties of 2019? But now our towns and cities are coming back to life and we are ready for a bit of glamour – enter flares, boho blouses, velvet, sequins and ditching bras all together.

The 1970s are back – and I am here for it.

But the revival of decades is rarely just about fashion. It’s 50 years since the spring of 1973 which, culturally speaking, might have in fact been the last year of the 1960s – before hippie musicians grew big hair and bigger egos, and radicalism gave way to apathy.

The dissent that reached its peak with mass protests across Europe and North America in 1968 seemed to be paying off. In the US in January 1973 a peace accord was reached in Vietnam and second wave feminists’ calls for reproductive freedom were rewarded when the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v Wade that laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional. In the past 12 months, the stability of that relative peace and freedom has been shaken.

In the early 1970s in the UK high prices and stagnant wages led to growing dissatisfaction among workers, strengthening unions and strike action. In 1973 the introduction of the three-day week to conserve electricity marked the beginning of the end of the Conservative government. In America, with the Watergate hearings, Nixon’s days were numbered. Perhaps it’s the industrial action of this winter, or our growing intolerance of corrupt politicians that have inspired us to raid vintage wardrobes. Or has getting through a freezing winter while trying not to put our heating on been a practical driver for the popularity of Afghan coats?

The 1970s may be the slightly more cynical older sister to the optimistic 1960s, but against an often bleak backdrop there was still a revolutionary spirit. The story of Daisy Jones & The Six is often painful and emotionally raw but there’s beauty and romance in it too. Damn, I even got carried away reading about 1970s squatting communities in Northern England. My hopes of winning the jacket have been dashed, but I can still turn up the music.

Antonia Charlesworth is Big Issue North’s deputy editor

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