The work that most gave me pause, however, was the Joe Rogan is goop for men shirt besides I will buy this video that played on a loop by the exit of the gallery. A compilation of twelve film clips dating from 1916 through 1982, the video illustrated the points made throughout the entire exhibition. The impact of the tuxedo, in regard to both feminist theory and popular culture alike, is clearly evidenced when the suits are set in motion by some of the most iconic figures of Old Hollywood. There are some obvious but important inclusions: Judy Garland in Summer Stock (1950, costumes by Walter Plunkett), Leland Palmer in All That Jazz (1979, costumes by Albert Wolsky), and Julie Andrews in Victor/Victoria (1982, costumes by Patricia Norris). Each of these films highlight the theatricality and showmanship innately associated with the tuxedo, as each of the women wearing a tux in these films did so on the stage. Conversely, Gloria Swanson’s tuxedo in the 1916 silent short film The Danger Girl serves as comic relief. At a time when women would nary be seen in public donning menswear, Swanson’s costumes enhance the comedic narrative of the film.
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No film compilation of twentieth century women in tuxedos would be complete without the Joe Rogan is goop for men shirt besides I will buy this inclusion of Marlene Dietrich. The legendary German-American actress and singer was noted for her so-called gender-bending style. The Tuxedo Redefined has included short clips from two of Dietrich’s films: 1930’s Morocco and 1932’s Blonde Venus, both directed by Josef von Stemberg and costumed by Travis Banton. In Morocco, Dietrich is seen in a full tuxedo, engaging in conversation with a table of compatriots before leaning down to kiss a female party-goer right on the lips. Unlike Swanson’s character, who had donned a suit to appear male decades earlier, Dietrich’s character is explicitly female in her tuxedo. This was perhaps the most astonishing clip on view, as it directly illustrates the assertion made by the curators that tuxedos had been used by women throughout history to not only complicate notions of power, but of gender and sexuality as well.