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That 70's Show

Ah, the '70s. Despite the fact that nearly everything about that era has been overly criticized, fashion, music and beauty keep going back to that same well for inspiration. This month we revisit the decade synonymous with disco in The Way We Were: 1970–1980, sponsored by Paul Mitchell. We changed our name to American Hairdresser/Salon Owner in the '70s, then again to American Salon in the '80s. Hey, if Diddy, aka Puff Daddy and P. Diddy, can reinvent himself, why can't we? Watch out—in 2008 we might decide to call ourselves American S. or A. Salon. Just kidding.

Brett Vinovich
Brett Vinovich

Wigs were a big business in the '70s. Monsanto hyped its "fabulous new polymer-spun hair called Elura." Its claim-to-fame: It didn't look like doll hair and could be styled and restyled. In 1971 we interviewed Paul Mitchell, whose star was just starting to rise. At the time, he was getting $25 for a cut at Crimpers, the salon in Henri Bendel in New York City that specialized in shampoos, cuts and air-waving. When we asked Mitchell if he thought air-waving and hot-iron styling were catching on, he said, "I do a lot of shows in different parts of the country, and I find that in a fairly large audience, say about 1,000, there are always a few hairdressers—maybe a dozen or so young, groovy types—who are very interested in haircutting and air-waving and have generally moved away from the old shampoo and set concept." I'm not sure if I was as surprised by his answer (only 12 out of 1,000?) as I was by the fact that he actually used the word "groovy." In October 1973, the country celebrated National Beauty Salon Week, spearheaded by the NHCA, which is now known as the NCA (National Cosmetologists Association). Anyone watching three of the biggest shows on daytime television, including Gambit with Wink Martindale, would have seen ads sponsored by the NHCA offering gift certificates to one of its 60,000 member salons. Also that year, Clairol offered our readers a chance to win a brand-new Chevy Vega in its Beautiful Browns-Glorious Grays Sweepstakes. The Vega was a subcompact car that sold from 1971–1977 and was designed to compete with the Volkswagen Beetle and the new Japanese imports from Honda, Toyota and Datsun. Does anyone remember queuing up at the gas station and waiting for hours to fill up? Not so groovy, baby. —Brett Vinovich, publisher, bvinovich@questex.com

CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: Game show host Wink Martindale (right) of Gambit; the legendary paul Mitchell; clothing we actually suggested you sell in your in-salon boutique; me at my prom, and no, I was not channeling tony Manero of Saturday Night Fever.
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP LEFT: Game show host Wink Martindale (right) of Gambit; the legendary paul Mitchell; clothing we actually suggested you sell in your in-salon boutique; me at my prom, and no, I was not channeling tony Manero of Saturday Night Fever.

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Brett Vinovich

Brett Vinovich