Cool, sunglasses and the modern woman: icons of the 1960s

Brown, V. ORCID: 0000-0002-0855-920X, 2018. Cool, sunglasses and the modern woman: icons of the 1960s. Film, Fashion & Consumption, 7 (2), pp. 97-114. ISSN 2044-2823

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This article considers the enduring appeal of certain iconic images of (sub)urban/e women of the 1960s: Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffanys (1961); Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver; and ‘Lolita’ as depicted in the promotional poster for Kubrick’s 1962 film. These are considered in relation to the idea of ‘coolness’, an attribute explored as problematic, yet generally desirable. Frequently perceived as a male attribute, even a male pathology, this article explores cool specifically in relation to iconic images of women, and their potential meanings both at the time of their creation and in the present day. It demonstrates how connections between coolness and modernity are articulated in imagery of women by the wearing of sunglasses, a material and embodied practise that allows acts of gazing to be nuanced in a variety of ways. At first sight, these images may have multiple, ambiguous and apparently contradictory meanings (from ‘nymphet’ to patriarchal refuser) but I will argue that viewing them through the use of sunglasses and the lens of ‘modern cool’ helps to refocus their power and continued, broad appeal as current benchmarks of still desirable, modern femininities, and therefore, their presence in a plethora of pastiches, consumer products and style discourses.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Film, Fashion & Consumption
Creators: Brown, V.
Publisher: Intellect
Date: 1 November 2018
Volume: 7
Number: 2
ISSN: 2044-2823
Divisions: Schools > School of Art and Design
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 04 Dec 2018 11:42
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2019 03:00

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