Monday, 8 March 2010

That Elusive Last Post on Orientalism That I Never Got Up Before I Moved

*sigh* so.... I moved! I have my own apartment! It's kind of strange....I just haven't completely come around to the fact that I am now an Official Adult (with Renter's insurance and everything!). I would really like to have a cat. I would really like to be able to afford a cat... Oh well. Someday.

Anyway, more boring bits about my apartment in another post. Now, I bring you the last dregs of the beaten to death theme of Orientalism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this time, among the Rich and Famous:

Actress Lily Langtry, decked out in a Japanese kimono

It seems that the kimono was popular mostly among the pre-1920s stage actresses. Aside from its probable functional use as a stage costume, but it showed off their wealth (being able to afford fancy silk all the way from Japan), and let them share in the fad of wearing the exotic clothes of the East (with that added bonus of no corset required). Once the 1920s hit, there are rarely (I don't think I have a one) any kimonos seen on actresses- why cover yourself with yards of luxurious silk when the new bare arms and legs movement gives less of a bad wrap to decking onesself out as a Middle Eastern belly dancer? Not to say that the exoticism of the Mid East was not represented in earlier decades- you'll see a few examples below. I just found it interesting the way peoples' idea of exoticism shifted along with their opinions of their everyday clothes.

Anna May Wong, the first Chinese-American movie star
(in an age when pretty much every non-white was played by, well, white people squinting or wearing black makeup) in Limehouse

Adrienne Augarde

Lily Brayton
(See- Middle Eastern style (or at least what Westerners thought it was),
but still very covered up)

Lily Elsie

Lina Abarbanell

Mabel Green 1906
(Who I can't help thinking looks a little too much like Stockard Channing)

Mata Hari
(Whose whole acting career was based on exotic/belly-dancing and flesh baring (although supposedly NEVER her breasts, but more on that another time,
when we discuss how she was executed as a German spy))

Rudolph Valentino 1926 Son of the Shiek
(Hollywood's original Heartthrob)


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