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History of American Fashion Movies & TV

The Merry Widow (1952)

In this adaptation of a turn-of-the-century operetta, actress Lana Turner is a wealthy, young widow from Marshovia, a troubled kingdom in need of her precious tax dollars. In the film, Turner, a voluptuous Hollywood starlet known as much for her glamorous style as she was for her busty figure, donned a strapless black corselette with attached garters. Her seductive attire sparked a fashion craze that held strong throughout the 1950s (and, in fact, reemerged in the 1980s with the help of a new icon of sensuality—Madonna).

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

James Dean and Natalie Wood star in this blockbuster hit about teen angst and rebellion. Dean’s casual attire in the film—blue jeans and a cotton t-shirt—had previously been a hallmark of the uniform of the working class, but the tremendous success of the movie helped redefine this garb as sexy and entirely cool.

The Seven-Year Itch (1955)

Blond Hollywood bombshell and fashion icon Marilyn Monroe plays a young model, both innocent and alluring, in this 1955 box-office hit about a married man with an over-active imagination. In perhaps Monroe’s most memorable on-screen moment, she stands over a subway grate as a sudden burst of air blows her white dress skyward. If you haven’t seen the original scene, you’ve probably seen it reenacted or parodied on sketch comedy shows, television commercials, and current movies.

Annie Hall (1977)

When Diane Keaton donned the layered and androgynous looks of her title character in this 1977 classic film directed by Woody Allen, she sparked a new fashion trend among women who were living through the Second Wave of the Feminist Movement. Keaton, styled by costume designer Ruth Morley in vests, oversized jackets, baggy pants, and bowler hats, inspired many women by thumbing her nose at constrictive clothing fads of the period.

Some Like It Hot (1959)

After inadvertently witnessing the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a notorious Chicago mob hit, two young men go incognito as members of a traveling, all-girl band. Dressed in drag and unable to reveal their true identities, one must mask his feelings for a lovely bandmate while the other must fend off an aggressive male suitor. And, in the meantime, the mob is on their tail! This is a classic, slapstick comedy featuring Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Marilyn Monroe.

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