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Old Hollywood in a New Era


Old Hollywood in a New Era 

Victoria Carroll

November 23, 2023


Hollywood is one small, famous district within the large city of Los Angeles, California. Although small, the impact created throughout American culture is huge. Beginning in the 1930s through the 1950s, Hollywood was in the golden age, this was largely due to the booming film industry. Now, the golden age of Hollywood is remembered as timeless and loved by many, resulting in the “Old Hollywood'' aesthetic, surrounding films, fashion, and music of the golden age in Hollywood. 


In 1927, the first silent film, “The Jazz Singer”, was released and marked the official start of, what is now called, cinema’s golden age. Old Hollywood film genres included Gangster, Western, Comedy Musical, Biography, and Romance. With the rise of cinema, celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor, Veronica Lake, and more gained fame. Everything they did, From how they dressed to their makeup, influenced this aesthetic. But why is this aesthetic becoming popular? The appeal is to go back to simpler times with elegant, classy fashion. 


Starting in the late 1920s, the silent film era began. With this came the rise of movie stars and celebrities. Red carpet appearances became a popular part of the culture which ultimately became the Golden Age of Hollywood. The fashion style in the Golden Age included flowing, long dresses. The fabrics were either velvet, silk, or lace and colors included solid, bold earthly tones like black, white, green, and red. While the dresses were considered the soul, it would be considered an unfinished look without the accessories. Pearl necklaces and earrings were an essential part, but diamonds were also popular. 


It wouldn't be a classic Hollywood look without the iconic red lipstick. Besides the bold lip, makeup was often subtle, worn to accentuate the features. Hair was often short or slicked back into a bun, and often worn with a cloche. Black Mary Janes were worn for dancing and on special occasions a pair of high heels. While some elements are left out of the aesthetic, there are still elements of look that are always essential. We can see this during the 2022 Met Gala. 

Celebrities such as Billie Eilish, Kendall Jenner, Anya-Taylor Joy, Kim Kardashian, and Audrey Hepburn powerfully channeled this aesthetic. Billie Eilish gave the essence of Marilyn Monroe with her short bleach-blonde hair, red lip, and extravagant peach dress. While most were simply making the impression of the “Old Hollywood” aesthetic, Kim Kardashian went the extra step and went as far as to wear a dress directly from Marilyn Monroe's closet. 


Emma Corrin wore a black button-up vest with matching shorts, long white stockings, and polyester kitten heel boots, and topped the look off with a flannel scarf, gently placed over their shoulder and a large, black top hat. While most of the female celebrates portrayed the aesthetic through more of a “feminine vintage” way, I believe they were alluding to the famous filmmaker Charlie Chaplin. 


After the Met Gala in 2021, the “Old Hollywood'' aesthetic peaked in popularity and brought back pearl jewelry, silk clothes, red lipstick, and much more. Normalizing women dressing elegantly and glamorous to reclaim the beauty behind femininity. 


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