Juxtaposing Opposites….or What a Difference 50 Years Can Make!   3 comments

As an artist, I am fond of drawing comparisons between images and the elements they contain.  On the most basic level, one can talk about the elements of color, composition, value, rhythm, lighting and on and on, but actually today my interest was sparked by taking a more philosophical look at contemporary images of women vs. what would be considered vintage images of women.

Vogue magazine has long been held up as a benchmark of what is worthwhile and exciting in the world of women’s fashion and general appearance.  It was, and probably still is,  considered to reflect the best in good taste as regards to how women should aspire to present themselves in public.  As a subscriber to Vogue, I would have to say that the magazine still has the undercurrent of its former self, but naturally as the world changes, so must Vogue in order to stay viable.

I have no problem with change, and in terms of aesthetics I believe we must always be moving forward.  But I have to say, on a non-artistic basis, it seems as if our fashions and the depiction of what is desirable in our appearance seems to still be on the fast track back in the direction of the cave man….back when woman’s primary function was sexual satisfaction of the male.  I’m not so naive nor prudish to believe that primal instincts are not important…indeed they are, but it makes me wonder who is running the show here?  Are we really dressing for ourselves anymore? Do women really want to look like the last wench off the pirate ship 24 hours a day?  Is it really that attractive to flaunt most of what you’ve got…even in daytime?   Is it somehow important to look like one has just had a tumble in the hayloft with one’s boyfriend/husband/etc. every time one steps out of the house or into the office?  Is this liberating?  I suppose the advertisers would want us to think so, and perhaps for some, it is.  But to me,  there is much more allure,  style  and mystery about a person when she is dressing with an objective other than to snag a man.  Oftentimes the men are more attracted because of what remains left to the imagination.  We all know that.  They knew it back in the 50’s and prior.  Why don’t the fashion magazines revisit that notion?  And for goodness sakes, why don’t the advertisers!  Although I see a bit of evidence that elegance is making a slow return in some of the fashion spreads, much of the advertising is still stuck on the Playboy/Playgirl channel. A little is fine, but too much gets predictable and routine, just like a bad lover.

Life is so much more fun with a bit of mystery and intrigue attached to it…and yes, elegance!  Whoops!  I said I wouldn’t give an opinion!

Oh well….let’s take a look at a few images.  See what you think…are we better off with what was considered proper and alluring dress back in the day?  Or are we better off now because we are more free to expose what we wish?   Image number one….from Vogue 1955….feminine in a refined way, the model sports a smile that indicates she is confident in herself and in her ability to attract….but in a quiet more subliminal way.

Here’s a very similar pose with the contemporary point of view….the model is confident, but obviously has only one thing on her mind….or should have only one thing on her mind according to the advertiser.  It’s the “last wench off the pirate ship” look.  As is the bottom line of most advertising, the not so hidden message is:  “If you buy this bag (or these clothes, etc.)  you’ll be this woman…and you should want to be this woman.”  Come to think of it, maybe she doesn’t look all that confident.  You decide.

OK,  here’s another interesting comparison.  Again from my vintage Vogue issue….a perfume ad for a well known vintage fragrance with a wild side connotation.

And a contemporary version of a perfume ad.  I’m sorry, this is just plain scaaarrrry…or funny…or both…lol!   This is supposed to be a vixen?   Come on, you can do better than that, Donatella (Versace)!  Ad-wise, this is just plain boring. Way too obvious.  Does it get the message across?  Of course.  But I’m very weary of so many of these poses where the model is either open-mouthed or sitting spread-eagled…or both.  It’s been the fashion for the last 15 to 20 years, but it’s old now…move on, already.  There must be a more creative way to express the “huntress” attitude…or whatever it is they want you to think you are when wearing Versus.

What a difference 50 years can make!  But I guess that’s the nature of change, right?  Personally, I think that sexuality tempered with elegance is far more attractive than outright blatant sexuality in both dressing and advertising. I’m on the bandwagon with Vogue ’55 in that regard.  I like the mystery of things.

Do you have any strong opinions one way or the other?

Enjoy your day!

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Posted April 27, 2010 by freshairfour in Advertisements, Fashion, Women

Tagged with , , ,

3 responses to “Juxtaposing Opposites….or What a Difference 50 Years Can Make!

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  1. May GOD Bless!!! Mark

  2. My God! Is that the way things are going? Oversexualized, futile, now i REALLY wish to go back to the 1950s!
    Nice blog you have! Loved it!(Sorry if my english is not perfect).

    • Giovani, I think there is a happy medium somewhere between being mysterious enough to attract vs. “showing it all”. When I go out to the mall and see pre-teens trying to emulate a sexy look, it does nothing but make me feel sad. Something’s definitely wrong with our current thinking if our young women are basing self-worth on level of sexiness vs intelligence and character. Unfortunately, advertising that is meant for mature women has also trickled down to teenage magazines, and young girls of course want to emulate older women. Wherein lies the fault? With advertisers who want to make a buck and will do just about anything to do so?….or with women who feel they cannot attract by any other means? And why would they feel that way? Seems like a rather vicious cycle.

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