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The Natural Look: American Style in the 1970s by Linda Welters Fashion History and Culture Thursday 20 September 2012.

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Presentation on theme: "The Natural Look: American Style in the 1970s by Linda Welters Fashion History and Culture Thursday 20 September 2012."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Natural Look: American Style in the 1970s by Linda Welters Fashion History and Culture Thursday 20 September 2012

2 The Natural Look was an Opposition to…  American politics and capitalist culture of the 1950s and 1960s.  Postwar suburban life as expressed in Beat/”Beatnik” culture.  Really consumption in general, as Jack Kerouac lays out clearly in On the Road (1957) – (never mind that he wore expensive Italian hiking boots), Welters 492. Read Jack Kerouac quote 492. This expresses a radical rejection of the entire American economic system and every material gain of the Allied victory in World War II.

3 The “Peacock Revolution” of the 1960s

4 Think about the sites of oppositional fashion today.  How can we make historical sense for, say, the “Hipsters” of today; if the Natural Look is opposed to all the things we mentioned in the previous slide, then to what is the “Hipster” style opposed?

5  Doesn’t the vintage trend and the Hipster look, their choice to ride bikes (usually several thousand-dollar carbon-fiber or titanium frames; along with several thousand dollars more of Apple products in messenger bags) instead of driving cars amount to a similar “self- imposed poverty” (Welters 495) that the hippies embraced?

6 The Natural Look takes a turn towards the commercial …  Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog  Was a lifestyle guide for alternative hippie living and helped later lifestyle marketers zero-in on this fashion story for a variety of products.

7 The story spread to other product categories, including food….  Food coopts were established  Organic produced emerged  Organic restaurants opened

8  The “health food” movement was in full- swing, thanks to the moral lifestyle priorities set by the Natural movement.  Consider today how organic, whole- food allocation (using the whole cow, for example), the Palo diet are aftershocks traveling far and wide across mainstream food commerce first established by the Natural movement.

9 “Natural” as a construct and as representation via industry.  Think about how industry took hold of the “Natural” fashion story and starting producing an array of products to meet this demand from mainstream consumers who were nominally on the “Natural” bandwagon (though most were not nearly as radical as the original Kerouac followers were).  You have to really buy this concept conceptually to be naïve enough to buy the products literally.

10  So what fashion stories are promulgated today by the cultural industry and cultural elites that add moral urgency to how you consume products? Madonna, Angelina Jolie, Bono?

11 Sally Struthers…?

12 The Natural Look gave us things that we take for granted today:  Underwear that shows much more skin – thanks skinny- dipping hippies from Woodstock!

13  Lip gloss for career women – thanks wandering Rucksack Nation!  Body Shop, Aveda – anything with “Natural” botanicals, “herbal” shampoos, yada yada – thanks morally-sound Beats/hippies/environmentalists who are ALL keeping it “natural” and “real” and “authentic”!  Earth Tones! For apparel, for cosmetics, for home!

14 The end of the Natural Look  People getting tired of looking like “fugitives from a finger- painting class (e.g. in a tie-dyed T-shirt),” (Welters 507).  Career women  Gym bodies

15  Designer jeans  Gloria Vanderbilt and CK

16 The Natural Look Legacy  Natural fibers  Carole Jackson’s “Color Me Beautiful” classes in 1974 led to the seasonal groupings of women’s “natural” coloring.

17  Body Shop, et. al.  Eco/Green fashion – just please be aware that this “look” and “movement” is no different than the Natural Look – understood carefully as a construct and as representation via industry, advertising and cultural elites like Al Gore, George Clooney!


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