As our first month of 2017 comes to a close, as much as it pains me to say it, so does my 70's influence series. It's been a real groovy time, so I'll leave you with plenty of inspiration in this post.
This week, let's bring up some icons.
There certainly is no shortage of them, so I'll have to be selective. Let's start with Ziggy Stardust himself - one of the many onstage personas of David Bowie. Performing, for David Bowie, transformed him entirely, where, in these spectacles, he would come out wearing body paint, glitter, striped jumpsuits, red hair. Ziggy Stardust is perhaps his most recognized alter ego - being an androgynous and ostentatious character. While David Bowie was perhaps not, he identified Ziggy Stardust as being gay in an interview, which spoke volume at a time where, especially in America, the LGBT rights were being actively protested for. Following a slow, nation-wide decriminalization of homosexuality, the prejudice remained for years to come and David Bowie with his many counterparts became role models for this ongoing battle. Along with this, Bowie pioneered the musical genre of glam rock and pushed all creative boundaries with his music and performances. He was, and continues to be, a globally recognized pop icon and left one heck of a legacy.
While we're talking about music, it's a good time to bring up some legends from good ol' rock'n'roll.
We had the leather-clad Ramones, the musical accomplishments of Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin, the vocal range of Freddie Mercury in Queen, the mastermind lyrics of Syd Barrett, the reckless, yet adored personality of Mick Jagger, leading the Rolling Stones.
Then we have the women who dominated the music scene - the new wave of Debbie Harry in Blondie, the eclectic sounds of Kate Bush, the contralto voice of record-breaking, pop-wonder Cher, the musical and stylistic influences of Patti Smith, the Motown wonder and incredible afro that was Diana Ross, the soft, melodic (Canadian) works, poetic (Canadian) lyrics, and the (Canadian) artwork of Joni Mitchell (I love you Canada), and of course, the wispy blonde fringe and mystical voice of Stevie Nicks, (my Queen).
In addition to these musical female powers, there are several woman symbols in this decade of progressional female empowerment. And in light of the current events and to follow the inspiring movement of the Woman's March, we can maybe look to these female role models of our past for guidance.
In 1979, Margaret Thatcher was elected as the first female British Prime Minister, and continued her run for another eleven years. Under her leadership, she aimed and succeeded to pull the economy of the United Kingdom out of a recession and ruled with an iron fist - her firm and persistent policy giving her the nickname of the "Iron Lady".
And Billie Jean King, who beat all the boys at tennis! In 1973, she competed with Bobby Riggs in the Battle Against the Sexes tennis match and won. In addition to her athletic accolades, she then continued to be a major advocate for gender equality and social justice.
Jane Fonda - as another example - an actress, writer, model and fitness guru, but amongst it all, an activist. She campaigned for civil rights and the opposition of the Vietnam War (other wars in the years to come), as well as a supporter of feminist movements.
Then we have three powerful and smart detectives who made it to the TV screen, Charlie's Angels. But fictional icons were just as important as the existing ones. Following the successes of several films, many characters were brought into popularity: Sandy from Grease, Tony from Saturday Night Fever, Annie Hall from....Annie Hall, Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, and perhaps some of the Droogs from A Clockwork Orange.
But what exactly is it that makes an icon? The unique style they possess? Diane Von Furstenberg and Yves Saint Laurent were iconic designers from the 70's, this is true, but when I think about 70's and I think about style, there is one person who comes to my mind as my ultimate inspiration. And that is Jane Birkin.
Beginning as a shy English girl, Jane Birkin blossomed into a successful actress, singer, songwriter, director, philanthropist, and namesake and designer for the sacred Hermés Birkin Bag. The path of her career took her to France, where, despite not knowing the language, she became a cinematic success. She was introduced to Serge Gainsbourg and the relationship between the two was, in itself, iconic - a passionate romantic affair between two creative artists.
Here is a wonderful documentary called The Mother of All Babes following Jane and her life:
I look to Jane Birkin as a personal role model for many reasons. She is a person who is effortless, and I mean this in the sense that it is visible she's making no effort to be someone she's not. She's simply and honestly herself (her acting work excluded). Even in her style there is a casualness, and with her signature fringe and doe-eyes, it is who she is, and it's beautiful. She's acted in a multitude of films and has released many albums and also was the mother to three daughters.
Jane also dedicated a part of her life to humanitarian work with Amnesty International and campaigning to free Nobel Peace Prize winner and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from her political prison. She is a highly accomplished woman, adoring the life before her, but remains completely modest amongst her achievements, a quality that I find admirable.
Consider what makes an icon, iconic. Is it their personality? Their clothes? Their achievements? Perhaps it's a matter of preference.
Admittedly, there are so many individuals that were emblems of the 1970's, many of which I haven't gotten a chance to mention, but this is a blog post, not a novel. So I think I'll end it here.
I hope that this month has left you wanting to bring back into your life some wide leg pants and platform shoes, some (maybe ten) houseplants and wood panelling and some Stevie Wonder and Bee Gees tunes.
For your further interest, CNN highlights 70 historical moments from the 1970's. It's a really interesting slideshow, depicting just how progressive this decade was.
Try not to be too sad - the 70's will continue to live on in our hearts.