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Happy Birthday, Swimsuit Issue! SI Introduces a New Sport: Modeling

On this day in 1964, Sports Illustrated released it’s very first swimsuit issue. The idea was a bit of a lark, a one-off supplement to keep guys warm (and buying magazines and turning pages) during the cold weeks between football and baseball seasons. (In ye olden days, there were blissfully long months between the major sports seasons, with boxing, tennis and basketball filling in as secondary diversions. Sportswriters could get desperate for copy. For instance, in the month following the first swimsuit issue, SI featured Bridge—the card game—as a cover story.) The 10-year-old magazine had put a swimsuit model on the cover once before in 1955, but the companion feature story presented real-life muckety-mucks palling around their Caribbean vacation homes in sportswear and summer dresses, not pretty models posing in scant swimsuits.

What is surprising about the inaugural swimsuit issue is it actually seems…sporting. Photographer J. Frederick Smith shot model Babette March laughing in the Read More »

Cinemode: Cleopatra Jones: A Tribute to Tamara Dobson

This story originally ran on July 13, 2010. We offer it up again today in honor of model, actress and style-and-feminist inspiration Tamara Dobson, who died on this day in 2006.

The formula couldn’t be more basic: Take one six-foot-two former model and add one of the world’s top fashion designers and get one of the great movies of fashion history, right? Well, Cleopatra Jones, released on July 13, 1973, should be ranked up there alongside The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Letty Lynton; instead, it’s the film you never heard of. Starring the statuesque Tamara Dobson costumed exclusively by superstar designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo (he later dropped the “di”), Cleopatra Jones is like a sharp and focused capsule collection from the apex of Sant’Angelo design. Given that the designer’s own career barely eked out of the Seventies, the film could be considered a retrospective of his work in motion—karate kicks included.

Cleopatra Jones likely fell into obscurity because it fits into the genre of so-called blaxploitation films, the handful of movies made—often by black directors and producers, including Gordon Parks and Melvin van Peebles—for black urban audiences through the 1970s. Those films generally portrayed black Americans as jive-talking bad-asses, and Cleopatra Jones certainly has that territory covered. But the title Read More »

Fashion Statement: Giorgio di Sant’Angelo

“The future is not vinyl astronaut clothes.”
—Giorgio di Sant’Angelo (1933–1989), American-based fashion designer working from the mid-1960s through the 1980s. That’s Giorgio smoking a cigarette with supermodel Veruschka, wearing one of his fairly futuristic-looking bodysuits. To read more fabulous Fashion Statements, click here.

July Fashion Flashback: Spring on a Twig

By the time this cover came out in July 1967, Vogue readers were well acquainted with Richard Avedon’s playful, inventive photography and eye-catching covers. Twiggy, of course, was the model of the moment, having been discovered just 18 months earlier. This portrait of the slender Brit in a turtleneck grass-green fur with a blue daisy drawn over her right eye, her left eye pancaked in frosty eyeshadow and black eyeliner, captures that quintessential dolly-girl vibe. Unsurprisingly, the shot has become an iconic image of the Sixties.

Avedon was a relatively new presence at Vogue. He had left Harper’s Bazaar the year before to follow Diana Vreeland (she switched teams in 1963) and work as the magazine’s staff photographer. Avedon soon became Vogue’s lead shooter, creating nearly every cover until Anna Wintour took the helm in 1989. For the July 1967 cover, fashion editor Polly Mellen hired Read More »

Cinemode: Cleopatra Jones

The formula couldn’t be more basic: Take one six-foot-two former model, add one of the world’s top fashion designers and get one of the great movies of fashion history, right? Well, Cleopatra Jones, released on July 13, 1973, should be ranked up there alongside The Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Letty Lynton; instead, it’s the film you never heard of. Starring the statuesque Tamara Dobson costumed exclusively by superstar designer Giorgio di Sant’Angelo (he later dropped the “di”), Cleopatra Jones is like a sharp and focused capsule collection from the apex of Sant’Angelo design. Given that the designer’s own career barely eked out of the Seventies, the film could be considered a retrospective of his work in motion—karate kicks included.

Cleopatra Jones likely fell into obscurity because it fits into the genre of so-called blaxploitation films, the handful of movies made—often by black directors and producers, including Gordon Parks and Melvin van Peebles—for black urban audiences through the 1970s. Those films generally portrayed black Americans as jive-talking bad-asses, and Cleopatra Jones certainly has that territory covered. But the title Read More »

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