It’s time to break out the red lipstick! As you may or may not have noticed, the latest retro revival that is grabbing fashionistas everywhere is that of the 1940s and 50s.
This season, it’s all about pallor instead of fake tan, curves instead of jutting collarbones. Forget cadaverous skinny minnies in billowy blouses and drainpipe jeans, 60s “cool” is out and post-war glamour is in.
Inspired by the likes of Dita Von Teese and Katy Perry, the newest craze is about embracing the fashions your gran might have after lipstick finally stopped being rationed and they were still using rags as curlers: alabaster skin, ruby lips, shiny wavy locks and, perhaps the best aspect of all, the comeback of the curves.
There’s no doubt that the average woman’s figure has been a scarcity in the world of fashion since the 1960s, with the likes of Twiggy and the spindly “hippie chick” look dominating the scene.
Classic femininity was replaced by an androgynous brand of cool, oversized clothing hanging off rail-thin frames, long sun-bleached (or, mostly, bottle-bleached) hair being swished around. This trend has continued in many different forms since.
This mode trickled over into other areas of the fame spectrum, affecting actresses, musicians, etc. Any celebrity who has dared to keep her natural physique runs the risk of being widely labelled “fat”, with the attitude that no-one wants to see that. The more waiflike, the better, they say.
But could this, after more than half a century, finally be changing? Could the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell, Bettie Page and every other hourglass-shaped siren of the post-war era be taking over from the Twiggys and the Mosses at last?
It’s not just the hair and make-up that are entering a time warp, either: clothing boutiques are catching on to the elegant trend, with 1950s-style hoop skirts are replacing miniskirts (see Louis Vuitton’s autumn/winter 2010 collection) and vintage becoming increasingly popular. Women are wearing those adorably kitsch little burlesque hats, with the net veils that cover your eyes in that oh-so-quirky-yet-alluring way.
Liverpool student Lynda Morris, who works in a vintage boutique in Aigburth, says: "People are wearing 40s vintage all over Liverpool now. Me and all my friends are wearing it, even girls who wouldn't be into that sort of thing normally may not realize it, but the fashions they're wearing are influenced by those in that era. It's a welcome change. It's very different."
There are arguments, of course, than in the 1950s (and, of course, especially in the burlesque taverns) that women were generally regarded as sexual objects. Many feminists believe that androgyny is the way to go, as it defies the centuries-old conventions of female beauty and makes women physically appear more equal to men. But surely, in this age of post-feminism, we can claim back the old glamour for ourselves, without being accused of self-objectification?
Celebrities we can thank - or blame - for this include Mad Men star Christina Hendricks, who, between her ample curves and retro wardrobe, have paved the way for other stars to embrace fuller figures and classic-glam ensembles; and of course the legendary contemporary queen of burlesque, Dita Von Teese, whose trademark black fringe, catlike eyeliner and bright red lips are being imitated everywhere you look. Even on the catwalk, so-called “plus-sized” models like Crystal Renn and Tara Lynn are now strutting alongside size-zero counterparts in Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana.
Love it or hate it, the bombshell look has definitely exploded into our midst. Whether it’s a counter-revolution or just another passing fad, remains to be seen. Fashionistas should keep their satin-gloved fingers crossed.
By Lee Boyle, Features Editor
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Dita Von Teese, the queen of classic glamour; YouTube: Marilyn Monroe, the original bombshell.