“What do they call you in bed?” says Thomas, the sinful photographer in the cult film 1966 Blow Up. Names in bed and sexiness in general are a big part of the Michelangelo Antonioni legendary flick, which was deemed one of “the sexiest films in history” by Premiere magazine. Lights, the flash of the camera, and fashion are the pillars holding this beautiful film up, but thankfully Blow Up is a lot more than a fashion spread waiting to happen– it’s one of the most pivotal films of the 60s visually that has a lot to say about emotional and personal involvement.
Blow Up follows the day in the life of a successful fashion photographer, Thomas (David Hemmings), who unbeknownst to him, ends up snapping incriminating photos of a dead body and a menacing gunman who could be the potential killer. After a day in and out of steamy fashion photo shoots, drug-ladden parties and assorted casual one-day flings with various women, Thomas is plagued by the guilt of ignoring the dead body he saw in his blow ups, and returns to the scene of the crime, Maryon Park, to try to find the body and rectify things. The movie focuses on the consequences of ignoring your personal moral compass, even if those consequences aren’t immediate.
Despite the contemplative, heavy subject of the film, it’s a visual masterpiece that fashion-freaks can especially appreciate. Set in the 60s, the fashion in Blow Up is mod-errific, capturing the culture to a T. The beautiful fashion models and women portray a 60s free loving confidence in their A-line minis. Pop colors and optical designs adorned their frocks, which they paired with classic flats and tights to show off their legs. The models on set dressed fit for La Dolce Vita, with glamorous sequin dresses. The 60s mod and effortless glamorous were completed with short, pixie cuts and heavy rimmed eyes a la Twiggy. Blunted, heavy bangs and flowing Bridget Bardot-esque blonde locks were also a popular look in the film. Check out one of the sexiest scenes in the film, a fashion shoot involving one very slinky dress! Tres chic, to say the least!
Mod is taken to the next level in the film in one particular scene, the infamous Mime scene. Lead Thomas heads to the park to contemplate his involvement in the murders, and stumbles upon a group of mimes along the way. This motley group of young mimes has always been one of my favorite visual moments of the movie. Vividly, the mimes carry a whole scenes without ever saying a word (obviously), and do it in style. Their faces painted in white, the male mimes are clad in skinny colored trousers and matching crew neck sweaters. Their accessories– top hats, lush mid-length pea coats and skinny scarves–recall mod-punk’s finest moments. The female mimes are just as on trend, in striped minis and A line dresses. I wish I could mime out how awesome they look– check out the scene below!
This legendary film marked a turning point not only in Antonioni’s career, but also in the representation of fashion as a lifestyle in film. Fashion and cosutming had always been a big part of the movement before, but Antonioni was beginning to reflect the culture OF fashion. Blow Up did more for fashion in 1966 than maybe the mini did! Ok… maybe not, but close!
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