Fashion, Class, and the Sex Bomb of the 1920s
Flapper fans won't want to miss this event Sunday afternoon: the American Cinematheque is hosting a lecture by Joan Renner, "an expert on vintage cosmetics ephemera," on the social and culture history of bobbed hair, paired with a screening of the silent film classic It.
Inspired by the writer Elinor Glyn's attempt to create a popular code word for the concept of sex appeal (and shot partially by the great Josef Von Sternberg), It told the risque-for-its-day story of a low-class shopgirl (Clara Bow) who seduces the wealthy scion of the department store where she works. Bow, herself from humble beginnings, became known as "the It girl," which was both a blessing and a curse -- though she enjoyed a few good years as a top star towards the end of the silent era, Bow was also haunted by rumors of her unusually insatiable sexual appetite (most famously, in Hollywood Babylon Kenneth Anger printed the myth that Bow had an orgy with the whole of the USC football team). Bow, and It, became the ultimate symbols of the late 20s as an era of proto-lipstick feminism and sexual standards in flux. "She was the most modern star of the 20s," said fellow silent starlet Louise Brooks in a documentary about Bow. "She WAS the 20s!"
Here's more info about Sunday's event. An excerpt from Bow documentary quoted above, narrated by James Mason (!), is embedded below.