Fashion Icons in Photography: American Magazine Turning to Iconic Representations from the 1960s On

in Engaging with Fashion
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Abstract

In the 1960s, fashion started to shift focus on the fluidity of identity. This impacted American magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar which are the corpus of this study. In magazines of seemingly unlimited means and growing readership, feminine role-models multiplied and became strongly polarized in their photographs. Some of these figures have been endlessly re-staged in fashion editorials from the 1960s onward (and even before that) – such as the working single girl, the femme fatale or the chic socialite – to whom was granted an enduring iconic quality. Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar represent a platform between fashion’s artistic temptation and the commercial necessities commanding their production. The emergence, repetition and dissemination of such iconic figures through their pages can thus be analysed as an avant-garde-inspired game on stereotypes, ironically detaching itself from the consumer culture that it was embracing – a stance derived from the Pop Art revolution. The readers’ compulsive fascination for these images was in the process deeply stimulated. Yet the new norms set by such iconic models proved anything but subversive. My purpose here is to question the making of these fashion iconic figures and to show that they inaugurated new, modern, programmatic narrative and visual discourses, in which the collaboratively-constructed narrative ultimately failed to offer readers a space for negotiation.

Engaging with Fashion

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