Almost Famous is set in 1973, when Bowie was still wearing glitter, Led Zeppelin were the biggest band in the world, and 15-year-old Cameron Crowe (the film’s writer and director) was calling up Rolling Stone, putting on a deep voice, and landing his first writing job. The film is based on Crowe’s experiences in the music industry as a sweet-faced teen, sitting side by side on tour buses with Bebe Buell, model, singer and girlfriend to a myriad of superstars including Elvis Costello, Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, Todd Rundgren, and, most famously, Steven Tyler. Without her we wouldn’t have his daughter Liv, or THAT Aerosmith video, so thank god those two got together. It makes sense that when Crowe was penning his autobiographical script he would base the part of Penny Lane (played perfectly by Kate Hudson) at least in part on Buell.
Crowe’s version of 1973 seems somewhat more tame than other reports of the time—perhaps because we’re seeing it through the eyes of an innocent virgin. Sure, we still get glimpses of the “Riot” Hyatt Hotel in LA, topless girls draped in furs, and hallucinogenic drugs, but it’s all pretty vanilla. For example, said drugs are ingested at a suburban teenage party by the fictional band’s lead guitarist after he has a crisis of confidence. While wearing these swimming shorts.
This isn’t shark meat and orgies. But that’s OK, watch Gimmie Shelter or Sid and Nancy for a more gritty take on this glorious but extremely politically incorrect world. Instead Crowe delivers a sweeter version—a young boy falling in love twice, first with music, then with a girl—and a dissection of what it is to be in a rock band who are never happy with their ranking, because their ranking isn’t good enough to get them on the cover of Rolling Stone.
But the film isn’t just about the music (though that earned Almost Famous a Grammy for Best Compilation Soundtrack). It was just as much about the clothes and all of the decade’s astonishing fashion trends: muted colours, platform shoes, suede. And in LA it was all about tassles, fur, peasant blouses, and worshipping long, big, natural hair.
Since the 70s are sartorially back in full swing, with festival fashion reaching a saturation point and runway designers like Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Marni putting a modern spin on the decade’s styles for fall 2014, what better time to talk about Almost Famous’ iconic wardrobe?
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