It’s very rare I’ve been able to get into the 20th century. When I turn from 1899 to 1900 I jump for joy. I did in “Rebecca”, I got into the ‘30’s then. I have done some modern stuff but I’m so thrilled I over-act like crazy. I’ve got pockets! I’m so used to wearing tights all the time that when I put my hands in my pockets I nearly fall over. I’m so unused to playing a modern guy. It all started because I was a classical actor, I was trained that way. When I left drama school, I wanted to do Shakespeare, I loved the words, I really fell in love with them, I loved the sound of them. So, most of my training was classical…
It’s FRIDAY FASHION FACT! One of the biggest “hot topics” of today is the unrealistic beauty
standards for women. We are constantly surrounded by Photoshopped images
and celebrities who spend a vast amount of time and money sculpting
their bodies to “perfection.” Though the discussion is at the forefront
now, the topic is nothing new. One of the most iconic instances of these
near-impossible beauty ideals is the infamous turn of the 20th Century
The Gibson Girl is named for her
creator, artist Charles Dana Gibson. In the 1890s, Gibson worked for
LIFE magazine, where his girl first appeared. As she gained popularity,
his work was soon printed in all the major magazines. There is
speculation that the girl was modeled after his wife or his sister, but
according to Gibson, she was not one girl, she was every girl, and
that’s what made her beautiful. He saw her as the embodiment of the
American melting pot- she was a combination of countless nationalities
and races (of course, in this era, that still meant a very pale caucasian). In a way, the Gibson Girl was the first “All-American
Gibson believed that the more races
were mixed together, the more beautiful women would become, as he
predicted only the best features from each would be passed down.
He theorized that as a result, women of the future would be far more
beautiful than the women of his day. In his drawings, Gibson combined
what he saw as the best features: delicate facial features, soft hair in
the latest bouffant style (but still with natural wisps and tendrils
falling gracefully aside) a full chest and hips paired with a slender
waist, positioned into the highly corseted S-bend. She was perfect, but
not absurdly so, in a way that felt almost attainable.She wore the
latest fashions, but was not at the level of the royals whom Europeans
often turned to for beauty standards.
so-close-yet-so-far looks were not enough to attract admiration, Gibson
gave her a personality to match. She was active and independent, playing
sports, going off to work, not desperate for the help of a man. She was
playfully teasing towards men, for how could they possibly hold the
interest of such a woman? She did get swept up in romance, though,
becoming a wife and mother. She was not content keeping house, though,
and continued to spend her days with women as equally tenacious as she.
Yet she was not political or controversial, steering clear of the rising
suffragette movement, or stating any strong opinions of women’s rights.
She was the perfect blend of modern and traditional.
Gibson Girl was the perfect embodiment of “Women want to be her, men
want to be with her.” It is due to this mass appeal that so many women
strove to physically emulate the Gibson Girl. After all, who wouldn’t
want to be the girl that so many people adored and admired? Of course,
creating the look in real life was not nearly as simple as it appeared.
The S-bend corset became extremely popular, yet this corset style forced
the body into arguably the most unnatural shape of any other corset
throughout history. Reality meant that it was near impossible for women
to adopt the relaxed and care-free attitude of the Gibson Girl.
were a few actress and celebrities who came close to the ideal, several
of whom actually served as models for Charles Gibson, most notably
Camille Clifford, whose near-perfect hourglass figure was the drawings
come to life. Of course, this only enhanced the idea that the look was
attainable for the average woman. Just like every beauty ideal, though,
the Gibson Girl look eventually fell from favor. By the 1910s, society
was shifting. The women’s rights movement was gaining momentum,
catapulted by women joining the workforce en masse. The Gibson Girl was
soon viewed as too proper, uptight, and locked in tradition. However, to
this day the image remains the icon of the Edwardian age.
Have a question about fashion history that you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!