TSY STYLE HALL OF FAME | JAMES DEAN CULTURAL GIANT OF THE REBEL SET

The irony is that James Dean was considered anything but stylish by many of his Hollywood peers of the day. He turned heads and created a legend, not by dressing up– but by dressing down.  Established style icon Humphrey Bogart looked down his nose at Dean, considering him a punk and a slob.  On Jimmy’s passing, Bogart had this to say– “Dean died at just the right time. He left behind a legend. If he’d lived, he’d never have been able to live up to the publicity.” Bogart was right in that Dean was difficult, and definitely not a natty dresser– but his impact on style can never be diminished.

James Dean cemented the rebel uniform for his generation of youth, and for many to come, through his very personal portrayal of Jim Stark in Rebel Without a Cause. Immortalized onscreen in Technicolor wearing the now iconic red jacket, white tee, Lee 101 Jeans, and engineer boots, Dean seemed to hold the world breathless, and became the first actor to speak for the silent anguished teen– he gave them a voice they had been lacking. Before James Dean, onscreen you were either a boy or a man. Dean’s influence on countless great actors that followed him created some incredible performances, like Martin Sheen in Badlands, who owes Jimmy everything he knows about acting.

“Jimmy Dean and Elvis were the spokesmen for an entire generation. When I was in acting school in New York, years ago, there was a saying that if Marlon Brando changed the way people acted, then James Dean changed the way people lived. He was the greatest actor who ever lived. He was simply a genius.” – Martin Sheen

James Dean on the set of George Steven’s epic 1956 masterpiece, Giant. It was Jimmy’s last film, and was released after his tragic death behind the wheel of the infamous “Little Bastard'” Porsche Spyder. Jimmy was on his way with mechanic Rolf Wütherich to Salinas to pursue his other passion– racing cars. James Dean received two Academy Award nominations for Best Actor posthumously, the only person to this day to ever do so– in 1955 for East of Eden, and again in 1956 for Giant.  — image via Hulton archive

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In 2006, the original Lee 101z Rider jeans worn by James Dean (pictured above) were auctioned off for $35,850. Lee Japan has introduced a replica of these same 101Z Rider jeans worn by James dean in Giant for the Lee Archives in 13,25oz narrow loom, Sanforized indigo cast denim with its characteristic one-side selvedge.

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James Dean as the surly and misunderstood Jett Rink in George Steven’s epic masterpiece, “Giant.”

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A JAMES DEAN TRUE LIFE LESSON | DON’T ACT IT, OR SHOW IT– JUST DO IT

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James Dean– from the haircut and setting, I’d say it’s during the filming of Rebel Without a Cause.

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Dennis Hopper said that when he was around 18 or 19 years old,  he thought of himself as one of the best, our at least on his way to being one of the best, actors in the world.  That is, until he met James Dean. Watching Dean in action as they worked together in Rebel Without a Cause, Hopper witnessed Jimmy doing things so far over his head as an actor, that at the time he couldn’t even comprehend it.  He knew Dean knew something, had something, that he didn’t, and it made him special– set apart.

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 Dennis Hopper, Natalie Wood and James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause.

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HOLLYWOOD ICON JAMES DEAN’S NYC APARTMENT

JAMES DEAN NYC APARTMENT

James Dean’s New York City apartment

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What’s better than a piece about classic Hollywood Icons and their old pads?

The bull horns and matador cape were of special meaning to Dean.  He had read the novel Matador by Barnaby Conrad, and for a while was obsessed with dramatizing it as an internal monologue without words, using just a few props.  Dean also loved to play his bongo drum along to jazz records late into the night.   He hung with a small, close-knit circle of actor/artist friends.  Among them was a young Martin Landau.

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