So today's New York Times has an article about the popularity of the vintage pinup aesthetic, "A Sly Wink to Pinups of the Past" by Ruth La Ferla. Do take a look.
I know most of you are going to be, like, So what else is new? But it's always interesting to see how the mainstream press covers trends, especially a trend that, in sewing-blog land at least, has been around a long time, and probably longer elsewhere.
In this case, I'd say the Times is considerably behind the curve. Behind the curve...pinup...get it? Oh, I'm clever!
Pinup culture -- the vintage cheesecake, va-va-voom sort -- never really went away, though it moved outside the mainstream in the Nineteen-sixties and Seventies. By then, magazines like Playboy and Penthouse were providing more explicit imagery than old-style pinups could deliver. When hardcore pornography can be picked up at your local 7-Eleven, who needs a calendar girl in a bodystocking and toe shoes?
In the Seventies, performers like Bette Midler were sending up WWII-era pinup style. The joke was that Bette was loud, coarse, and not beautiful, which was part of the reason she was so popular. At the time it was considered a little transgressive.
|Bette portrait by Annie Liebowitz|
And then there was Farrah, whose pinups really weren't that far away from Rita Hayworth's when you think about it. The difference is that you always saw Farrah in something sporty, never lacy lingerie, let alone a Jean Louis satin evening gown. Farrah was active -- a pinup for the Feminist era.
I wasn't really aware of how popular vintage pinup style had become until I started sewing and reading blogs, though I had noticed that my local events magazine, Time Out New York, included burlesque listings and there are a lot of them -- female and male, if you can believe it. Of course this is ironic, tongue-in-cheek burlesque, not Gypsy Rose Lee performing to a house full of heavy-breathing husbands.
I get the popularity of the pinup thing among young women, or at least I think I do, and many of the reasons for it are mentioned in the Times article. Old-fashioned pinup girls (pinup women sounds like a pc parody) looked happy, healthy, and wholesome.
They had wide faces, rosy cheeks, flesh on their bones, and a twinkle in their eye. They never looked angry, anorexic, or asexual. Nobody was a size 0.
A very different mindset.
Of course, many of the popular pinups of the day were illustrations rather than photos, but the poses and general aesthetic were similar. The illustrated ones tend to be a little more sexually suggestive, but still tame by contemporary standards. A flash of lower breast or stocking garter was about all you got, but that was part of the fantasy. The idea was to suggest, to titillate playfully.
Finally, while lifted, separated, and probably padded, the old-fashioned pinup's breasts were her own, as were all her other body parts. There's something so refreshing about that!
In the sewing world, we can witness the pinup aesthetic in the growing interest in corsets and cinching (covered in the Times only yesterday -- I smell a trend), and in the popularity of vintage play suits and bathing attire, not to mention dark bangs and ruby red lipstick (I won't mention names).
Readers, what do you think of the return of pinup style? Does it say something about our times, or is it just another all-too-predictable swing of the style pendulum?
Can you dress "sexy" and not look like you're selling yourself as an object? (The pinup, remember, was so-named because she was image to be stuck on a soldier's wall and ogled -- good for morale and all that.)
Do you like to sew and/or dress in pinup attire? If so, what do you like about it?
Put on your play suit and share!