1940-1980

TERRAH MACK

1940-1949: Katharine Hepburn

World War II highly impacted the fashion industry in the 1940s’ because of the lack of resources that were used for the war. Materials like silk, nylon, wool, leather, rubber, and zippers were all needed so the fashion industry had to learn to distribute their clothes through rations and the designers had to be creative when making their clothes while also establishing trends that were appropriate for this time period. The style that was popular at the beginning of the decade was very uniform representing the simplicity from the consequences of war but towards the end of the decade, the style was inspired by the casual/desired American Look and no other person in the 1940s’ was able to showcase this new look other than Kathrine Hepburn.

Katharine Hepburn was born on May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Connecticut. She started acting in plays in NYC in the late 1920s’ until she got the part opposite John Barrymore in the 1932 film A Bill of Divorcement. From that moment on, she joined RKO movie studio starring in movies like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, Little Women, On Golden Pond, Morning Glory and many more. Her career lasted for over 6 decades with her last roles being The Line King: The Al Hirschfeld Story released in 1996; Katharine Hepburn died on June 29, 2003, at the age of 96 in the same house in which she had grown up.

When it comes to Hepburn's style in the 1940s’ she was definitely a trail blazer when it came to embracing both masculine and feminine style making her "known for her gender-bending style and highly stylized film persona, (she) made an indelible impact on both Hollywood and the fashion industry..." (Happy Birthday, Katharine Hepburn: Her Impact on Fashion) During her early days, Hollywood was obsessed with glitz and glamour which was the complete opposite of Hepburn. The article, "Katharine Hepburn by Donna Loveday", her style came across as striking due to her "informal and relaxed (style)... Hepburn implied a resistance to conform to the highly stylized, heavily made-up glamour girl looks promoted by the major Hollywood studios." She pioneered the "American Look" while wearing high-waisted slacks, button-down shirts, blazers, and loafers enforcing the idea of comfortably over aesthetics. Though she still wore fancy dresses on-screen, she played a huge role in fashion showing women that it shouldn't be looked down upon when one wears an "masculine" outfit because it doesn't strip away your femininity; her outfits inspired a generation and her impact is everlasting.

1940s fashion
katherine hepburn
 

1950-1959: Marilyn Monroe

With the end of WWII, the rise of the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War, and renewed definition of pop culture, the 1950s' was the start of a noticeable shift in society. With the last decade being largely influenced by the war, women were more accepting of the idea of gender-bending fashion because of their efforts in the war forcing them to wear clothes that suited the times that they were in. But with the new decade, women went back to more feminine styles focusing on "... perfectly groomed hair, spotless makeup, and sets of matching accessories."(1950-1959; Fashion History Timeline) Women used this era to reinvent the idea of fashion and luxury with clean lines and simple silhouettes with their leader being the one and only Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. She had an extremely rough childhood constantly in and out of orphanages, dropping out of high school at 15, and having an estranged relationship with her family. In 1946, Norma became a very successful model leading her to a movie contract where she would later change her name to Marilyn Monroe. She featured in films like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, All About Eve, The Prince and the Showgirl, The Seven Year Itch, and many more. Monroe's career sadly ended early as she died from an overdose on August 4, 1962.

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most glamorous woman of all time leaving her footprint on pop culture being known as an American sex symbol. "Monroe's mark on the fashion industry is indelible, as an icon of femininity and sexuality… She brought body-conscious designs to the forefront of fashion, a feat in an era of Peter Pan collars, matching gloves, handbags and propriety." (50 years later, Marilyn Monroe still influences Fashion and Beauty) She was placed at the forefront when it came to embracing one's sexuality and femininity through her clothes both on and off screen. According to the article, "Fashion Icon of the 1950s; Marilyn Monroe-Nothing But the Radio On", "Blonde hair, red lips and a beauty spot are synonymous with the Marilyn look. Her full curves had enormous sex appeal, and it seems that this look is making a comeback; high-street store Debenhams say that the curvy hour-glass figure is quickly replacing stick thin size-zero." Monroe showed women that it was not only ok to not be a size zero but it was embraced by millions. If it wasn't for her confidence within herself, she wouldn't have sought a new generation body acceptance and appreciation that every woman should be able to feel. 

marilyn monroe 1
marilyn monroe 1
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marilyn monroe 2
marilyn monroe 2
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1960-1969: Audrey Hepburn

The 1960s' was one of the most difficult decades of all time. It was the raise and fall of many political/social issues in history with some of the events being the rapid increase in the Civil Rights movement, multiple assassinations of important political figures, the Vietnam War and hippie movement, Women's Rights Movement resurgence, and of course a less conservative view of pop culture. Due to the intensity of the decade, fashion had three different aesthetics to satisfy every type of woman in the 1960s': the sleek and elegant Jackie Kennedy style, the young and colorful Twiggy style, and the eclectic and freeform Hippie style. The one woman who was able to combine all of these styles together inspiring pop culture for decades is Audrey Hepburn.

Audrey Hepburn was born on May 4, 1929, in Brussels, Belgium. She lived the majority of her childhood in different countries throughout Europe; as a child she loved to dance and perform, studying ballet in both Amsterdam and London making her stage debut in the musical High Button Shoes. A few years later, she made her debut in the Broadway production of Gigi, at the age of 22. A few years later, she left New York for Hollywood and became a movie star starring in films like Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sabrina, Funny Face, My Fair Lady, A Roman Holiday and many others. She acted all the way until the 1980's where she changed career paths and became an ambassador for UNICEF raising awareness for childhood hunger in Asia, Africa and Central and South America. After battling colon cancer, Hepburn died January 20, 1993, at her home in Tolochenaz, Switzerland.

Audrey Hepburn has inspired fashion by showing the importance of embracing your confidence through an effortless yet put together style. Compared to other style icons, she never had a set style because she constantly revamped her style based on the shift in fashion. If Jackie Kennedy was wearing monochromatic suits with matching accessories- so was she. Or when Twiggy started wearing the Mod style- Hepburn was in short A-line dresses with wide brimmed sunglasses. This is why Audrey is so famous- through her collaboration with Ginvenchy, she popularized trends like the little black dress, ballet flats, large pearl necklaces, and other pieces that became synopsis to her style. Her style was easy for women to copy and helped reinvent the idea of being able to be comfortable and chic while wearing clothes that make you the most confident being known as "one of those rare people who truly deserved ‘fashion icon’ status. Poised and charming in equal measure, Hepburn’s style and beauty continue to be as captivating..." (There's A Reason Why Audrey Hepburn's Style Is Still So Celebrated)

1960s style
1960s style
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audrey hepburn
audrey hepburn
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1970-1979: Diane Von Furstenburg

The 1970s' was the year of the fight; as a continuation from the 1960s' with a lot more conviction and push back. As minority groups like people of color, women, and LGBTQ+ members fought for equality, anti-war rhetoric and protest, and the era of Richard Nixon and conservatism, fashion definitely took a unique twist from society. The only style that seemed to outlast the 1960s' was the Hippie aesthetic with staple pieces being bell bottom pants, long and short flowey dresses, tie-dye, peasant blouses, ponchos, chockers, headbands, and statement pieces of jewelry. One piece of clothing that became a staple in the closet and the women's movement was the wrap dress that was created by Diane Von Furstenburg.

Diane Simone Michelle Halfin was born in 1946 in Brussels, Belgium. She graduated form the University of Geneva and one of her first jobs was being an assistant to a photographer and filmmaker. A few years after she graduated, she married Prince Egon von Furstenberg in 1969 and moved with him to New York where they lived a very glamorous lifestyle. She enjoyed her life but she wished that she was financially independent and "realized the significance of women's emergence into the world of work." (Diane Von Furstenberg) She became a designer and wanted to create clothes that were flattering, comfortable, and made women look respectable and smart which led to the creation of the wrap dress in 1973.

The wrap dress had many purposes in helping women feeling more confident in their skin while wearing without being looked down upon. Von Furstenberg stated in her autobiography that she "... had no focus groups, no marketing surveys, no plan. All I had was an instinct that women wanted a fashion option beside hippie clothes, bell-bottoms, and stiff pant-suits that hid their femininity." She was a major part of women being able to be liberated during the rise of the ERA and the women's movement. The dress has outlasted the decade and still has the impact that it did to this day.

1970s style
1970s style
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diane von furstenburg
diane von furstenburg
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