February 17, 2011

Style Icon and Modeling Inspiration: Bettie Page (nsfw)

"I was never the girl next door."
--Bettie Page
I first learned of Bettie Page when I was 13 through an interview with Marilyn Manson in which he called her an archetypal beauty. Although I didn't copy her bangs until a few years ago, she's been a long-time influence on my style. Random fact: during my 8th grade career day field trip,  I met Richard Foster, author of this scandalous biography (it provoked Bettie to call him the devil). 
Bettie Page
Bettie in a casual but classic outfit that is both 50s and timeless. (I'd recommend omitting the  scarf unless you're in a helicopter.)  
One of my favorite aspects about Bettie is her duality. She expresses a wholesome side and a deviant one that sometimes come together. That's partly due to working with different photographers and in different settings, but also due to her talents as a model. In the E! True Hollywood Story biography, Debbie Mazar said that Bettie acted for the camera rather than modelled.   
Bettie Page
That dress is the perfect amount of sexy. Tiny watch is a touch of class, no?
Bettie is not only a fashion inspiration but also a modeling mentor. (I'm by no means comparing myself, only saying that I'm inspired.)  
What can we learn from Bettie?
Bettie Page
Bettie's smile is radiant, a stark contras to the doll's creepiness. 
*Bangs are photogenic. Bettie wasn't the first famous beauty with bangs but she did exemplify how photogenic they can be, especially if you have dark hair. Bangs focus on the gaze and frame the face. (I think that's why so many fashion bloggers have them.) 
Bettie Page
Sultry. 
*Most of all, in terms of modeling, Bettie has shown me to think of being in front of the camera as sharing your light. I know that sounds grandiose, but photography is greek for  "light writing" so I like to think of the camera as capturing stories by grabbing the light off its subjects. Bettie seems to have intuitively understood this and used her eyes and body language to show the camera her light. That's what adds something so distinctly personal to her photos. 
Bettie Page
A flower behind the ear is always cute. 
*Bring all your skills to the table, especially when it comes to crafting your own image. Bettie made a lot of her own costumes, particularly the swimsuits used in her later career. According to photographer (and former pinup model), Bunny Yeager, Bettie had a professional demeanor and came to the job fully prepared with little need for direction. She didn't tell the photographer how to do her/his job, but she incorporated much of her own skills and knowledge to produce the best image. That's another reason Bettie's image seems to be a natural extension of her own personality. 
Bettie Page
Energy makes photos exciting. 
*There's something irresistible about leopard print.
*Bettie herself describes her modeling secrets as always pointing her toes and imagining that the camera (not photographer) was her boyfriend.

Bettie Page
I want those silver hoops. 
*Don't be one dimensional. I think part of Bettie's popularity then and now is the variety of photos in which she appeared at ease. Bathing suit images, fully clothed, color, black and white, even fetish. Somehow, there is something authetnically Bettie in all her forms. Try to incorporate as many different elements into your overall image. How far can your identity extend itself in your wardrobe and images?
Bettie Page
Also these boots. 
*Whenever possible, use props. They can make a photo or pose more interesting, especially if supporting an overall theme. 
Bettie Page

*Go outdoors: Bettie was described as someone happiest in nature and it shows in her photos. Plus the lighting conditions are ideal. 
Bettie Page
Nice fringe.
*Wear red lipstick during the daytime like it ain't no thang. 
*Fill in your eyebrows. Bettie said she felt insecure without making her eyebrows appear darker. Don't become obsessed, but thick dark brows are very dramatic. 

Bettie Page
So Dior s/s 2011. 
*When in doubt, SMILE! Her amazing, innocent smile is iconic. 
*but if you're not smiling, be expressive!
Bettie Page
Crochet bikinis are classic.
*Heels are your friend. 
Bettie Page

My Own Tips:
*Depending on your intent, be careful when paying literal tribute. In my opinion, Bettie's choice to pose naked or in fetish-wear for men's magazines are decisions that would still be relatively risque today. I'm not judging, but emulating her look to a T could be rather racy, so proceed with caution. 


*To be less risque, make the influence subtle. There's a broad spectrum here. You can have Bettie Page bangs and be totally tame. You can wear a pendandt with her likeness and be a bit bolder. You incorporate ideas or elements from a  favorite Bettie look into an outfit.
Christian Dior Spring 2011 Ready-to-Wear-13
Dior s/s 2011, from style.com

 Dior's s/s 2011 line was influenced by Bettie and illustrates a very modern, obvious but not literal interpretation. (The bangs and pin-up girl vibe are there, but the colors and silhouettes are Galliano's own vision.) There's a Bettie Page inspired clothing line with reproduction garments if you want to be more literal. 


Any other inspirations you've drawn from Bettie?
heart,
--m



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9 comments:

  1. I ADORE Bettie Page. I had a vague idea who she was and loved the pin-up girl look, but really began appreciating her after reading Dita Von Teese's book and learning more about her. Red lipstick is definitely my daily standard and I stock my closet with as much leopard print as possible. I love the bangs and think they look so amazing on other girls, but I had horrible poofy blunt-cut bangs as a child and growing them out scarred me for life. I've seen clip-on bangs, though (Jennifer Hudson wore a set for a Grammy performance), so maybe that would be fun to try out. Thanks for sharing this!

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  2. Love these photoshoot tips..I always feel uncomfortable having my picture taken, I'll think of Bettie the next time I clam up.

    Also..I would definitely say that you have captured the Bettie Page style with your own personal twist (and while wearing clothing!)..quel concept!

    I love that fringe bikini photo..I have never seen that one before. It's fantastic...great post, as usual!

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  3. I know of her, but had never before pondered her methods. I like this quote:
    think of being in front of the camera as sharing your light. Gonna have to work on thinking of my camera as my boyfriend...

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  4. she's definitely a style icon.. she looks like a lot of fun..
    great post.. stay cool!

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  5. I enjoyed this post so much! I only knew the Bettie Page was a pin-up fetish model of the 50's, but a lot of these images you show reveal her very innocent, charming nature.

    Also, really great tips! Having a blog that is based on outfit posts, it's good to learn a few tips to make a better model for my clothes.

    xx.
    Judy

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  6. I love this post love the vintage images. www.ladorian.blogspot.com

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  7. omg, 5 months later I am re-reading this and there are so many grammatical and spelling errors!! I was a super stressed out student writing a thesis at the time so I guess a little slack is deserved....

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  8. I recreated the "jungle Bettie" outfit for Halloween one year. I don't really know how to sew and it was very last minute, so lots of pins were involved. Hilarious.

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  9. haha, I'll bet it looked great-- photos? I've thought of going as Bettie for H'ween before but I feel like it isn't enough of a stretch from my day-to-day look (I try to go as blondes)

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looking forward to hearing from you!

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