SLIM AARONS | THE STILL UNDISPUTED KING OF HOLLYWOOD PHOTOGRAPHY

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the kings of hollywood slim aarons

Slim Aaron’s most celebrated image was shot on New Year’s Eve of 1957 in the Crown Room at Romanoff’s restaurant in Hollywood.  Called ”The Kings of Hollywood,” it shows Clark Gable, Van Heflin, Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart — what Smithsonian magazine called ”a Mount Rushmore of stardom” and the novelist Louis Auchincloss ”the very image of American he-men.”  Why are the men in the picture all laughing?  Mr. Aarons sometimes said he did not know why.  In all truth, those chortling stars in ”The Kings of Hollywood,” Mr. Aarons sometimes admitted, were really laughing at him.  Mr. Gable had said how bad he thought Mr. Aarons’s acting was in a small movie part.

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BILL BLASS CLASS

The beauty of being able to draw, or paint, from an early age is that you never feel trapped, least of all by your immediate circumstances.”

–Bill Blass

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From The New York Times

In early December 1999, the mood in the Bill Blass showroom at 550 Seventh Avenue was as gray as the film of dust on a potted plant that sat in the corner and always seemed to be dying.

Blass, arguably the most famous of all the American designers, had shown his farewell collection that September and sold the company a few weeks later.  He had been ill for some time, living with throat cancer for years — he was then 77 — and he didn’t seem much inclined to argue with the new owners about who would fill his oversize shoes.  They wanted a name.  So the future of Blass’s longtime assistants was far from certain.  Laura Montalban, one of two top designers, left to work for Oscar de la Renta; Blass called the other, Craig Natiello, who had been with him for a decade, into his office.

“You’re not going to like the people who bought the company,” Blass said.  He made a phone call, then told Mr. Natiello, who recalled the conversation in a recent interview, that there was a job waiting for him at Halston.  “Here is your out. Do you want it?”

That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is class.  Keep a stiff upper lip, tell it straight, and repay loyalty with loyalty. This kind of character is an increasing rarity, unfortunately. Kudos, Mr. Blass.

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THE “REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE” CURSE | A CURIOUS CAST OF CHARACTERS

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James Dean in 1955’s “Rebel Without a Cause”

The 1950s were a very cool time, I only wish I could have experienced them for myself. It is a time in American pop culture that is highly idealized for it’s music, fashion, style and culture. Everyone looked incredible, and seemed so squeaky clean– but you just knew there had to be much more going on behind the scenes. Rebel Without a Cause is one of the most iconic films from that era, and the stories behind the making of the James Dean classic are as incredible as the movie itself. And truth be told, Dean was not the only rebel on the set. Nicholas Ray, Dennis Hopper, Nick Adams and Natalie Wood definitely held there own.

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Jimmy Stewart’s Honorable Style

Jimmy Stewart Rope

With seemingly every known sportswear brand with a nickel’s worth of history coming out with an “authentic” or “vintage” line, I’m left wanting to step away and rediscover the “heritage” of dressing well.  At least I won’t have to worry about being stoned to death for not wearing the correct of-the-moment hipster boot anymore.  So I’ll have that going for me- which is good.

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TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | GARY COOPER

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Gary Cooper Sportcoat

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No one before or since, epitomizes elegance and style like the legendary Gary Cooper.  No, Cary Grant doesn’t even come close.  He was a fashion protege of Gary Cooper without a doubt– even Grant’s stage name was crafted by movie studio executives to look and sound like Cooper’s.

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GaryCooperAscot

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No one has ever worn an ascot as well as Gary Cooper– a look that truly requires sartorial swagger and a deft hand.  Cooper was always in command of his clothing– never the other way around.

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OLD NAVY

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U.S. Navy recruiting poster– circa 1917.  She’s sporting standard naval issue enlisted dress blues– or “crackerjacks” as they were commonly called in reference to the sailor boy on the popular Cracker Jack box.

Women have served as an integral and invaluable part of the U.S. Navy since the establishment of the Nurse Corps in 1908.  Nine years later, the Navy authorized the enlistment of women as “Yeomanettes.” In 1948, the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act was signed, making it possible for women to officially enter the U.S. Navy in regular or reserve status.

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It’s commonly thought that the “bell bottom” trouser was introduced in 1817 to permit men to roll them above the knee when washing down the decks– and to make it easier to remove them in a hurry when forced to abandon ship or when washed overboard.  Old Navy folklore has suggested that they may have also been used as a life preserver– by knotting the legs at the opening and filling them with air.

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