Monday, June 27, 2011

Lecture Six - Brigitte Bardot and the start of Lolita

Just as early hollywood stars traded on their manufactured image, the stars emerging after the first world war seemed to have traded on their national image.

Brigitte Bardot is one iconic figure of the 1950s. She created for herself an image of youthful sexuality that resonated with the emerging teenage culture. However this image was always tied to her French identity. Our lecture today briefly covered a range of national cinemas and stars that have been exclusive to their national cinemas as well as those who have crossed over into mainstream Hollywood.

I really enjoy foreign films and the distinctive aesthetic. I find them very refreshing amidst the range of Hollywood movies that dominate popular culture and cinema within Australia. The French and Italian film festivals are always an interesting event (and a great excuse to eat Italian and French food), that give a little taste of the huge range of films being developed outside of hollywood.

Hindi films are something that I am intrigued by, but have never really explored. The little tastes I have gotten from watching films such as Slumdog Millionare and Bride and Prejudice have been fantastic. I think I will add a Hindi film to my 'films to watch' list (that has grown significantly longer after taking this subject). This is the end dance scene from Slumdog Millionaire that draws on aspects of bollywood cinema.

I've managed to get distracted from what I initially wanted to blog about, the infamous Brigitte Bardot. What caught my attention about Bardot was that she managed to be an icon of France, sexual liberation and youthfulness all at the same time. Pamela mentioned that despite her work in Holllywood, Bardot maintained her French identity throughout her life. This was reinforced by the reading that suggests she had a role in maintaining France's role at the forefront of fashion through the wearing of natural fibers to oppose the rise of US synthetic materials.

I found the reading very informative as I have so often seen images and fashions influenced by Bardot, however I have been painfully ignorant of her role in them. The Bardot look has been recreated quite literally within fashion and film. Claudia Schiffer is one example of someone who has traded of the Bardot look. This still from A Single Man shows a recreation of her style within a contemporary film.

The use of Bardot's look has also carried on with the bed hair look and childish styles of dress.
The image of youth Bardot cultivated was strongly reinforced by her wearing of gingham, particularly at her second wedding in 1959. This one dress had a dramatic impact, being instantly copied and "provoking a craze for gingham that helped revive the flagging vichy industry in the Auvegne" (Vincendeau). This dress highlighted Bardot's youthful image that she continued to promote.

Brigitte managed to combine youthfulness and sexuality into her image, a combination encapsulated within the concept of Lolita. After researching the concept of Lolita within film and fashion I have found that there are two reading of the 'Lolita effect'. The first is closely tied to the novel itself with the sexualisation of young girls. The opposite of this is the dressing of older sexually mature women in childish clothing. Bardot fits securely into the second category due to her cultivation of a youthful and sexual image.

I have been exploring this Christopher Kane collection in regards to my essay due to his explicit mention of 'Lolita' as an inspiration. However my new knowledge about Bardot and her gingham dress makes me think that she must also have been an inspiration to this collection!

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