Earlier today I reblogged a post from Thrifty Vintage Chic about fashions from the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire. Fashion, and specifically pin up-style fashion, has been on my mind for the last few days. I’ve been making my way through the editing process of the film, looking at lots and lots of pin up style, and thinking about how the women in the film negotiate their own looks and identity. I have women who gravitate to every era of the pin up save the Gibson Girl, that turn-of-the-twentieth-century darling who Maria Elena Buszek argues is an early model for feminism. But oftentimes, pin up gets identified into two very specific generations: the 1940s and 1950s. You either wear victory rolls or Bettie bangs, and never the twain shall meet.
Nonetheless, fashion IS important in this world.
As is the visual image. Pin ups, and pin up artists, are all over sites like Pinterist and Instagram. Snapshots, rough edits from photo shoots, and other era- and subculture- specific goodies can be found littered across the both sites (just a couple of our suggestions are here and here).
A couple of Fridays ago, one of my students (I teach at the University of Colorado) was presenting the beginning stages of a project she’s working on about fashion and Islam. She showed some of the Instagram accounts she’s following that are put together by Muslim fashionistas. And I was struck by how much these expressions of fashion and self resemble the expressions of the pin up women I’ve been following. In both, there is a push for identity that is different from the mainstream, that both looks back to history while tweaking it into something new and modern. That is both nostalgic and at the same time terribly contemporary. That appears on the surface to be conservative, but in practice is all about pushing boundaries and expressing one’s own uniqueness. There is a sheer joy at one’s own audacity.
There’s a tension within the pin up that is fascinating.