Silver screen royalty and denim nirvana are a formidable, irresistible combination. Hollywood has produced its share of actors who epitomize this particular allure. Their "denim moments", whether scripted or spontaneous, have created and captured key ideas in the history of pop culture and film. Consider five standout examples.
As in Marlon. Johnny, the biker gang leader in "The Wild One", was the poster boy for an edgy, brooding quotient of youth itching to upend the buttoned-down 50s.
This was the era of business suits and Beaver Cleaver. In the same decade, schools nationwide banned denim. Johnny's biker uniform smashes such conservatism. His motorcycle, leather jacket, white tee, tilted biker cap, and blue jeans are his irreverent soul on display. Brando's understated machismo echoes the power of Johnny's renegade appearance.
Brando oozes come-hither specifically because he reins it in. He is as much playing a role as being himself. His fitted overcast raw denim jeans and dark shades are staples of the 50s rebel. Brando, young and lean, fills out his vintage Levi's like a dancer, harkening back to a time when it was wickedly masculine to advertise.
Bardot made every man on earth want to have "A Very Private Affair" with her upon the release of the 1962 film.The storyline is a bit sappy despite being semi-autobiographical. But uninterrupted face-time with Bardot makes it easy to endure the soap opera romance between the heroine and a married man named Fabio.
Wonderful coincidence: Denim originated in the French town of Nimes. Bardot, riding a bicycle and modeling her curves in a pair of fitted over-washed Levi's 501s, is the picture of dressed down French femininity. The jeans simultaneously reflect her character's desire to live a simple, incognito life just as the movie is a subtle critique of our love affair with famous faces.
Better known as Daisy Duke, this country cutie's washed-out denim cutoffs are world famous. The likes of Deborah Harry and Beyonce have since sported their own versions, but none can pull off Daisy Dukes quite like Bach.
Daisy Duke was the quintessential Southern pinup who marched into television history one long leg at a time. Her short shorts summed up her devil-may-care attitude and confident sexuality of 70s women. The specific brand of the original Daisy Dukes remains a mystery, but any scandalously revealing cutoff denim is superb.
Dean's turn in "Rebel Without a Cause" remains a standard of bad boy excellence. Released one year after "The Wild One" and a month after Dean's death, "Rebel Without a Cause" continued Hollywood's obsession with youth, anger, beauty, and denim.
Dean as Jim Stark rocks red, white and classic indigo Lee 101 Riders, a nod at ruggedly stylish boys next door gone wrong. The straight leg cut made Dean appear taller but also seemed to mock the stiffness of a business trouser. Both alluded to the moral decay of a generation.
"The Hunter" is as much an ode to vintage cars as to macho king Steve McQueen, 80s manhood, action thrillers and rogue blue denim. McQueen puts his definitive alpha male spin on the character of Ralph Papa Thorson, a bounty hunter chasing/eluding madmen. Definitely not Thomas Crown.
McQueen's anti-hero coolness and resplendence are equal to the bright yellow '51 Chevy Styleline his character drives. His shimmering blue Lee 101Z Riders are a James Dean throwback and a subliminal announcement about his whoop-ass power. "Steve McQueen's" is cockney slang for jeans, proving his denim legacy lives on around the world.
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