Geraldine Doyle Did It
Denimu with James Dean in Fairmount
The story behind the seams
Can you imagine a time when you didn't wake up and automatically choose to wear your jeans? Today's fashion staple was not always so. This fascinates the artist greatly about his preferred fabric's history. This is more than just showing a famous face.
The story of denim jeans follows snuggly against that of America. In its early history, it embodied the wholesome American hero, the cowboy and the laborer. For many years jeans were only used as work clothes, but by the 1940s they were starting to be considered leisure-wear in America. With the popularity of the Western movie and stars like John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, blue jeans were all the rage. What were originally designed as prospectors working britches now gained the irresistible aura of romance and adventure.
With the emergence of the USA as a superpower after WWII and the growth of pop culture across the globe by the 50's the influence over denim included rock stars, artists, intellectuals and film stars. Denimu became so infatuated with these icons that helped make Jeans what they are today.
It could be said that the true fashion history of denim was made in the 1950s when film stars wore it in the movies that the teenagers of the day followed with avid interest. It is hard to believe now, but until icons like James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis and Marlon Brando wore their jeans on, and off camera, that denim was not considered as suitable fashion wear. The youth of the time now followed - copying this symbol of rebellion and freedom.
In the films The Wild One and Rebel Without a Cause starring denim-clad Marlon Brando and James Dean looked oh so cool - and rebellious - to the impressionable youth. Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock featured famously the blue jeans and jacket. The mythology associated with the wearing of jeans developed even further.
While young men had Dean or Brando to look up to, women had Marilyn Monroe. The Blonde Bombshell became the ultimate sex symbol after starring in movies such as Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire. When she began wearing blue jeans that hugged her hips and showed off her curves at parties and publicity photos, jeans became sexy for women, not just men.
Now jeans could represent the young, as well as the workers, and once these 'baby boomers' grew up and their kids wore then wore them, denim would start to span the boundaries of age, sex, race and time.
This fact is not lost on the artist. Denim is for all of us, just like art should be. By recreating these icons out of denim he is capturing them, preserving part of Twentieth Century history and certainly educating the audience about the pants they wear daily. Globalization has led to a ubiquity of denim and the artist combining this material, to icons who's faces are known the world over is perhaps a message about how we see these icons. A message of a universal language that crosses the whole world. Denim Icons; Turned to Denim.