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tv   American Style  CNN  January 13, 2019 8:00pm-9:01pm PST

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the pendulum swings so far with to one side it swings back to the other. >> and the world changes profoundly. xxxx. how you live and what your values are, that's what style is. >> style is is how you surround yourself. >> it's each generation finding their identity. >> have you ever broken any rules? >> i'm looking at the '40s and '50s. there's a tremendous amount of change. >> the bikini was the biggest thing since the atom bomb. it's scandalous. >> hollywood has always been so influential in how women view
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themselves. >> i mean katharine hepburn made pants happen. >> going against the grain had become its own unique identity. >> what are you rebelling against? >> what have you got? >> '40s and '50st were america finding itself. a voice for american style. ♪ ♪
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♪ >> in the beginning of the 1940s, american style was very simple without a lot of adornment. >> coming out of the '30s, consumption was not something you did. we all hear stories after grandparents saying hold on, i'm going to save that tv dinner foil. i'm going to use that again. that's the mentality of growing up in a depression. when you don't have stuff, you work with what you have. >> most women learned how to sew at a very early age, and they would make their own shirts and dresses and, you know, whole wardrobe. my mother had a sewing machine. i was constantly telling her what i want wanted and she would constantly tell me it would have to be something else.
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it was a different mentality. >> and everyday man would probably own one suit and one hat. >> my grandfather would take my mother to baseball games. he was always in a suit and tie and often a vest. on the hottest day. my mother, who loved to go with him, would say why are you wearing a suit? he would say, you know, i'm taking a lady out. i always wear a suit. there wasn't a lot of ingenuity going on in fashion. >> america was still a remarkably provincial country. the leading emphasis in fashion and art was in france. >> americans felt very second rate when comparing ourselves to europe. we have always seen europe as the leaders. >> americans looked, i think, to europe as aristocratic. we had europe as the icon of
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style. >> before world war ii, we were a nation of copiers. we have been a nation of copiers. >> december 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy. the american people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. >> during world war ii, everyone was involved in that war effort. >> war ration book number two, 180 million of them rolling off the presses. coupons that represent civilian americans future purchases of rationed goods. >> the government rationing that
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happened as a result of the war dramatically impacted style. >> textiles are not being used for apparel purposes, at least on civilians. everything is being channeled to the war efforts. >> during the war, extraneous waste of materials like extra pockets would be forbidden by the new rationing rules. >> men's clothing, which used to be identified by having jackets with lapels and pants with cuffs and pleats, all that access fabric goes away. >> you could not have flaps on a jacket pocket. the pants could not be wider than 19 1/2 inches. >> women were asked to give up their silk stockings so they could be recycled for war purposes. >> off with the stockings, girls. they are due for the discard and the war effort needs them. the stockings will be used in making powder bags for firing heavy guns.
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>> the scarcity of things pushed people to be more creative like women drawing on the back of their legs to imitate the seam of their stockings. >> it's a trick with the eyebrow pencil. legs or eyebrows, it's all the same, only difference is the shape. >> girls would turn table cloths into skirts, for example. >> people were very much behind the war effort. it was something that created a sense of community and pulling together. it made people feel involved because it literally hit them in every aspect of their home and domestic life. >> pre-war women were still predominantly in the household. it was crazy before to have women in the workplace. certainly, not even considered that women would be something like a welder. but when world war ii hit, all of a sudden, women flooded the workforce. >> but it's really not good to
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wear a big, puffy skirt when you're operating heavy machinery, so utilitarian needs required women to suit up and hit the factories. >> the age of rosie the riveter changed the sense of style, how they expressed themselves. >> it was a change in the lifestyle of the woman, and i think that affected what she was exposed to. she had new influences, new environment, new stimulus. as a child, i was fortunate to have young aunts. they went to work, and they really paint the picture of how life had changed drastically because of the war. >> it was an emancipation for the woman. they had that strength that women have when things are tough. >> wearing the pants and taking
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on male roles had a subliminal message that there could be a toughness about women that was never identified before. that changed everything. >> for men certainly in the '40s, it was considered not a manly thing to be even thinking about wardrobe. you just wore clothes. >> but there was a style that started for men, and it was a very different, very colorful style. >> a very extravagant way of dressing that was embraced by minorities. ♪ ♪ i want a zoot suit with a great shape and cuff to look sharp enough to see my gal ♪
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>> zoot suits were primarily worn by african-american and latino american men. >> people who were sort of on the outside edge. >> the suits were long jackets and very full trousers and had various accessories like a watch fab on a long chain, et cetera. it was one of the first youth cultures. >> some might see the zoot suit as flashy, and perhaps it was, but these are the most marginalized people in society. even though they may have been treated as second-class citizens, when they put on these zoot suits, they suddenly had an identity. they suddenly could see themselves in a different light. ♪ a got a zoot suit ♪ in the latest fad >> the '40s were a period when
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there was tremendous panic, paranoia about youth cultures and particularly when they were minority youth cultures. so there were a lot of racist reactions against zoot suitors. most notoriously in the so-called zoot suit riots in los angeles in 1943. crowds of white men and servicemen were beating up latino and black men for wearing zoot suits. >> soldiers who were on leave, seeing these guys and saying, you're unpatriotic, they defied the war rationing efforts. >> the pride of these individuals wearing the suit was offensive to a lot of conservative white males who were not comfortable with men of
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color asserting themselves in any way, even in the way that they dressed. >> the zoot suit came to be the lightning rod of fear and racism. it was the symbol of conflict in the united states. [birds chirping] accidents can happen anytime that's why geico is here 24 hours a day everyday. geico, fifteen minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.
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with advil liqui-gels, what stiff joints? what bad back? advil is... relief that's fast. strength that lasts. you'll ask... what pain? with advil liqui-gels. ♪ hollywood, city of lights and fantasy. hollywood, glorified, fascinating, mythical kingdom. hollywood, the glamour capital
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of the world. >> before world war ii, we would head to the paris couture collections, we would sketch them, photograph them. and then we would bring back all of those ideas and copy them here. the only place in this nation where anything was happening that was creative and innovative in fashion was hollywood. the school of design launched the first program in fashion in 1906. where did the early graduates go? they went to the up and coming and then burgeoning film industry in hollywood. >> hollywood has always been america's dream factory. and that was especially true, i think, before the rise of other media like television. americans looked to hollywood movies and saw the kind of lives they wanted to live. the cars they wanted to drive,
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the clothes they wanted to wear. >> film was very escapist. people went to see fred and ginger rogers because they wanted to escape the misery they were living in during the war. >> people went to the movies. it was, you know, exciting. >> it also sees the emergence of glamorous new idols. >> hollywood was it. these were the gods and godesses around whom america formed their dreams and ideals. >> back in those days, there were movie magazines, portraits of movie stars one after another. they are the ones that are projecting style. so you had somebody like rita hayworth, avagardner. they represented sort of the iconic. >> everyone wanted to look line joan crawford.
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everyone wanted to look like audrey hepburn. >> she owned the crisp, white shirt and capri pant and the flat. and your hair back and possibly a little scarf. so many people loved that style because you don't even have to say anything when you walk in the door. you look sophisticated. >> my mom did a film where she wore very short hair. and that hair, she told me, she had heard about women going to the hairdresser and saying, i want the ingred berman haircut, the very short hair. >> today when we think about the '40s, we think about big shoulder pads. >> '40s was the age of the shoulder pads. >> joan crawford was very short. she had hips that were about the same width of her shoulders. she was never going to be a glamorous goddess without a little bit of help.
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but adrian, the costume designer at mgm, said rather than try to hide her broad shoulders, let's accentuate them. so he creates the shoulder pads. she comes into a room and it's a powerful entrance. because she's got these big masculine shoulders. it helps establish her image as a powerful woman competing head to head with men and usually wins. >> she's a working woman and she is a pioneer. it's a woman who is in charge and it's a woman who is independent. that's what american style is about. >> adrian came up with another solution for her. he creates for this movie this dress and it has big, puffy taffeta on the shoulders. what it does is create this is illusion that joan has tiny little waist and tiny little hips. this glamorous impression of
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joan crawford that goes on to become the first hollywood design that is copied and mass produced and sold in department stores across the country. >> so they would have it in the window with a picture of joan crawford, which sold many, many, tens of thousands of copies. >> hollywood has had an effect on the public, wanting to live that lifestyle or wanting to emulate the stars. >> the same as joan crawford wears? >> it's styled the same and it definitely reflects the hollywood influence. >> may i have it? >> it's yours. >> i thought the '40s were a gorgeous period of time to watch. they all talked very fast and had that voice. i don't know what it was, but i liked it. >> have you ever broken any rules, selena? of course you're right. should we make an exception in her case? >> why don't we make up a rule of our own?
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>> katharine hepburn was a gender outlaw from the time she said being a little girl is a torment and she insisted that everybody call her jimmy. she wore boy's clothes and that was the world view she had when he went to hollywood. she didn't want to start playing the game of hollywood where you put on the prettiest dress. >> katharine hepburn made pants happen. >> it was seen as being tomboyish look often with mannish jackets. so it was that glamorous androgenous look for women. >> she didn't look as though she was trying to be a man and fool all of us. she was katharine hepburn and she's saying, here i am and i'm me, and i love that about her. >> there was a huge pushback against hepburn wearing pants. columnists would write about how she wasn't living up to the standards of what they expected
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a woman to be and act. >> it certainly gave women who had never worn pants and thought this was something i can't do, it gave them confidence about this is okay. i can do it. katharine hepburn does. >> she successfully stood up to what hollywood expected her to be and she won. (vo) combine the right things. and something amazing happens. that's our inspiration for fancy feast medleys. wild salmon primavera. tastes amazing. also in pate. fancy feast medleys.
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the world still looks to paris as the source of creative fashion, a position it's maintained for centuries. >> before the war, american fashion wasn't even registering on the map. there were only two magazines that controlled fashion in america for women, and it was harpers bizarre and vogue, and they didn't care about american fashion. it was very boring for them. but eleanor lambert changed everything. >> eleanor lambert was a trailblazer. she saw an opportunity for american fashion. she was really the first american fashion publicist. an incredible public relations powerhouse. >> eleanor was an art student at chicago art institute. she came to new york and got a job working for a publicist. at the time, opera stars were the biggest stars of the day, and she was promoting them. her boss noticed she was a good
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publicist. so he said i will give you a desk and a phone, but you can't represent opera singers. you have to find another kind of client client. she said what should i do? he said what do you love? she said i love art. she went up to 57th street and signed up five artists and became a very successful publicist for artists. she was the first publicist for artists. adele simpson, who was a fashion designer, came to her and said, hey, american fashion is really strange because the garment manufacturers don't promote the designers. they don't even know their names. we need to be promoted too. and the french designers get a the lot of attention, but we don't. it gave her an idea. her idea was contact the publishers from newspapers across america, invite them to new york to write about collections of these designers.
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the publishers sort of pushed back and said we don't even have fashion writers. she said, then send your best writers and just like that, eleanor lambert created the first fashion week that took place in new york city during wartime. >> twice a year the dress institute welcomes to new york the visiting editors ask writers of 150 leading newspapers. on parade during press week are the celebs of every noted designer in the wholesale market. >> the first fashion week it was just american designers. >> how she's handling her evening gowns are reported by ladies of the press. >> the fact that fashion week started in the midst of world war ii is shocking. it shows you the escapism aspiration of fashion. >> editors from across america didn't have to write about cooking and cleaning anymore. they got to write about fashion. well, of course, it was a slam dunk and changed everything.
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and eleanor lambert became the most powerful person in fashion. she used that power to raise the visibility of american designers. like lily dache, netty rosenstein. >> and claire mccartle, attributed with creating casual clothing. >> one of the most exciting prints we have ever seen is designed by claire mccartle. >> she's making, for the most part, separates. it's ready to wear. it's not couture. >> she wanted to design for the every woman, outdoors, athletic. function was very important. the dress had to work with a woman's lifestyle. >> she used common gingham, she used calico. and they were very affordable for women to buy. >> mccartle also was a champion of denim, a textile that is
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associated with all things america, and she brings them into the fashion arena. >> fashion was taking a shift from what are the europeans wearing to the fashion industry is now designing for me. >> it was a startling moment for america. it was a big deal. >> claire mccartle led the way for many american designers. ann cline, donna karan, michael kors, norma kamali. they all have this american style. >> claire mccartle stopped going to the european shows. she said i'm not going anymore, because my creativity has to be original. she never went back to europe. she was making stuff in america for americans. >> you see this independence and
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throughout the world, people hail the end of the war. it is five years and more since
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hitler marched into poland. >> reporters rush out to relay the news to an anxious world and touchoff celebrations around the country. >> the dawn of peace. 2 million new yorkers jam times square. >> all the pent-up emotions of three years, eight months of war. and to the victors, the spoils. peace is wonderful. >> there was a real optimism after the war ended. people were excited about what was to come. >> welcome home. >> women certainly enjoyed the end of the war. and all that that meant from a fashion standpoint. >> well, cut off my legs and call me shorty. look what's here, girls. nylon. for four years you have been waiting for nylons. four years of painting legs,
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bare legs, tattooed legs and mosquito bites. all that and the war is over. see? don't they look like the real thing? the nylons. the legs are the real thing. gentlemen, have you ever seen a lovelier smile? >> when rations were lifted after the war, there was an inching forward towards normalization. >> now all of a sudden women had options. so if they wanted to dress in the girliest of girly ways, they could do so. >> the bikini, in the words of the great fashion editor deanna breland, was the biggest thing since the atom bomb. >> it was named after the bikini where we tested the atom bomb. >> the french fashion designer created this in 1946. and this midriff was never exposed before.
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it's scandalous. in fact, he had to find a woman of the night to wear it because regular models wouldn't touch it. they thought it would ruin their career to be seen in this bikini. >> it didn't really catch on for a long time in america because it was too shocking. people were arrested on american beaches for wearing bikini-like two-piece garments. >> at that point, we have to remember, women never even show ed their ankles.showed their an. >> it's a huge, huge phenomenon. its influence on customs and perceptions of what's socially acceptable is profound.
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>> since the war, 10 million families have moved into new homes in the suburbs. after a hard day's work, the man looks forward to a home he can be proud of. >> the transition from '40s to the '50s was really the move from post-war recovery into a period of stability and prosperity. >> during the war, people worked six-day weeks. then all of a sudden, life changed. they were living in the suburbs for the first time. >> you had vacations for the first time. >> the economy was booming and there was a lot of disposable income. >> let's buy stuff. >> we start to become a nation of consumers. >> we start buying televisions and hi-fi staereo systems and yu might even buy a car or two, shocker.
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>> car culture was important, especially in the suburbs. you needed a car now. just even the artistry of the cars, the paint job and the the lines. those cars became really a symbol of america's prosperity and american style. >> once people started buying things, then you have to design things and the whole industry is built around that. it grows very quickly. these exploding catalog businesses, department stores, jcpenney, macy's. >> keeping up with the joneses became a new defining your identity through the material goods you possess. >> it's great times and people are buying a lot of stuff to buy a lot of stuff. >> after the war, i think is perhaps more confidence and a better understanding and identification of what qualifies as american. >> art, for example, the
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abstract expressionists revolutionized ideas of modern art. popular music, jazz, the invention of fast food. american architecture, the shopping mall. it was american cultural dominance on a global stage. >> but there's this tension of the 1950s. there's more prosperity and optimism, but there's this sinister undercurrent going on. >> mass conformity cast a shadow very long and dark shadow over american culture.very long and american culture. anything bedtime's at eight. yikes, you're strict... allergy to shellfish. peanuts. oh i should write this down. hey, what's your wifi password? it's the names of our kids.
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in california the fbi rounds up 12 more. they are arraigned on charges of conspiracy. >> during the 1950s, the united states began its cold war with the soviet union, which led to an intense climate of repression at home and an emphasis upon
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conformity. >> communist party in the united states should be outlawed. it's a conspiracy to overtake the government by force. >> if i had my way, they would be sent back to russia. >> communism was a label that was thrown around to label anything foreign and strange and threatening. anybody who was dressing different, if you were wearing beret and your dark glasses, somebody was going to accuse you of being a communist. >> so there was this attempt to make everyone in the society act the same way, talk the same way and dress the same way. >> clothing advertisements became downright paranoid. they had things like, dress carefully, you can't afford not to. people are are watching you. >> when men came back after the war and went back into business, they adopted the gray flannel suit.
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it was a new uniform. they had their army uniform or navy uniform, and now they had their business uniform. >> the image there is someone who is just dressed for the corporation, the machine and his role as a cog in the machine. >> business attire began to get very specific rules at what you could and couldn't wear. >> guys all wore a very similar style lapel on their suits. they were grey flannel, skinny ties, a hat. hats were huge at that period of time. if your boss was wearing a gray flannel suit and white shirt and red tie, you should probably do the same. >> you didn't want to rock the boat. that meant very limited clothes, limited patterns. it was about fitting in. everyone wanted to look the same.
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>> but if men had a job where the gray flannel suit was part of their everyday lives, i think they were actually grateful. >> the soldier version of masculinity shifted to the suburban father/breadwinner. >> it was seen as a good thing to be part of that great endeavor, which was rebuilding post-war america and the prosperity of those years that followed. ♪ >> women were strongly encouraged to go back to the home in the 1950s. >> some of the women wanted to keep working, but then some of the women did want to go back and just be mothers again. for men, it was like, okay, things are back to normal. your executive husband is back home now. you need to become the housewife. >> to have been included in the workplace for a time and then
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being, in essence, kicked out, this is a hard thing to digest. >> but it was almost unamerican for them to think they should keep their job when servicemen were coming home. >> their style of dress was then tailored to what was thought to be appropriate for a housewife. and there were books like ann fogerty's wife dressing, which explained how to dress to help your husband succeed in his career. >> whatever we cook inside, mom always does the cooking. and whenever we cook outside, you always do it. how come? >> it's sort of traditional, i guess. you know, they say a woman's place is in the home. i suppose as long as she's in the home, she might as well be in the kitchen. >> oh. >> you had to wear nice clothes so your children, particularly your daughter, would model herself on a feminine no mom.
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you shouldn't vacuum wearing blue jeans because your daughter would get the wrong idea. >> there was much more pressure in society to make sure that the family looked perfect. >> it became a time where that very white bread conservative nuclear family ruled. we see it on television. this was the kind of "leave it to beaver" family that becomes the image that popular culture is trying to say is the image we need to aspire to. but, in fact, there was a movement in the 1950s who rebelled against that and said, you know, this is not natural. this is not the way people live. this is an artificial construct you're trying to put on us to try to live up to when no one can live up to that kind of focus. >> the '50s came to a head when the kids started to rebel against the structures of their parents' generation.
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won't dim inchish inish in popu >> it's been around for many years and they'll have to get something mighty good to take its place as far as young people are concerned. >> ma about improving it morally and taking the wiggle out of it. >> officer, you take the wiggle out of it it's finished. ♪ ♪ >> the '50s really seized the birth of the teenager as a phenomena. during the great depression, if kids could be working they were working. >> in the '50s, most teens no long her to work so they were no longer being forced to be an adult. >> they had allowances. >> there was idle time. there was time to get in trouble. >> the '50s had its radical side in as young people started to create their own culture. >> you have dating which was a semi-new phenomena with less
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supervision. >> along came, like, rock 'n' roll. [ cheering ] ♪ >> rock stars like elvis were seensa bei seen as terrifyingly sexual. >> all of a sudden move wes these voluptuous women like marilyn monroe. >> and the role models that they had were vastly different than their parents. ♪ ♪ >> the beatniks were starting to come up, poet, artists, the actors. james dean. >> have you ever been in a drag race? >> are you kidding me? >> there were a lot of different influences inspiring the younger generations to really break away from their parents. >> i mean, their parents were june and ward cleaver and they were, like, this is so square.
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that's the word they used back then. square. they embraced new iconic figures began when teenagers were identifying themselves on their own terms and not their patients. >> you see, we just like to live and have a good time. we don't see why our parents should find us so mysterious. >> the rebellious teenagers were making their statements and being heard and they were starting to affect and determine style. >> from tough boy denim to black leather jackets. >> they were looking towards blue collar workers for their inspiration. >> before cowboys wore jeans. people in factories would wear jeans. >> teenagers were being inspired by motorcycle culture. >> teenagers were influencing the movies and then the movies were re-influencing a broader culture across america, as well. >> when teenagers started to rebel against the rules that they had grown up with you see
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this tension between doing what you're supposed to do and being, you know, brando. >> on the weekends we go out and have a ball. >> what do you do? i mean, do you dress right around or do you go on some sort of a picnic or something? >> a picnic? man, you are too square. i have to straighten you out. you don't go any one special place. that's cornball style. you just go. ♪ >> marlon brando came to hollywood rebelling against the conformity of the 1950 ♪ ♪ >> he was fortunate in that he had two roles at the very start of his career that allowed him to be who he was so we see him in the stanley kowalski in "a street car named desire" and "the wild one" and that's where the young woman says to brando what are you rebelling against and he says --
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>> what have you got? >> brando iconicised the t-shirt. >> brando starts wearing this t-shirt in public and the sales skyrocketed. >> he made it okay to wear a t-shirt as a top. it wasn't underwear anymore. >> there was a freedom that was coming out in fashion at that point in time that was more individual. it became much more about, you know, what their image was when they walked out on the street. >> brando. his clothes seemed effortless. ♪ ♪ >> i think it's interesting that the three iconic male sex objects of the 1950s marlon brando, james dean and elvis presley are very similar on one level in that they're all rebels. they're all defiant of social norms. they dressed to confront their hostile, aggressive, but they also had this vulnerability, this real feeling of needing to
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be taken care of. there's that softness within the gruff exterior that helped define how we saw masculinity going forward. and i do think that these three characters in the 1950s set that trend that has really gone on ever since. ♪ >> in the '40s america had an inferiority complex about their style. >> what is so hugely important about the '40s and the '50s is that rise of american designers. >> individual style started to emerge. ♪ >> there was a lot of discovery. american style became globally significant and globally influential. >> the '40s and the '50s are as
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timeless as you can imagine. even today every red carpet is rooted in that period. we had europe as the icon, but we were developing our own thing. >> old rules were breaking down. so what was once seen as completely unacceptable now suddenly they're re-thinking that. >> the big change is that people stopped hiding what they wanted. >> the '50s came to a head when the kids started to express their independence, their liberation, their sexuality. there was a great bifurcation in american culture between overt sexuality and repressed sexuality, that tension is what created the '60s. >> by the '60s there are a lot of people in america who are no longer interested in conforming. >> the '60s turned a switch and
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that switch just changed everything. ♪ ♪ great style is something that is grown from within. >> style is culture. style is expression. >> there is no stopping point short of victory. >> all of us must stand up and say "no more." >> i don't believe that there has been a fashion decade as tumultuous as the 1960s. >> things like this, basically they're great, they really are. >> people celebrated their bodies by showing their bodies. skirts went up. >> the birth control pill is very effective if taken as directed. >> the pill is a symbol of


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