Modern 'Bombshells' preserves pin-up with dash of Memphis rockab - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Modern 'Bombshells' preserves pin-up with dash of Memphis rockabilly

Memphis' pin-up scene may not be as large as other cities, but it is certainly defined. Partially because in the Bluff City, blue suede shoes mean more than one thing – as Elvis proved. Memphis' pin-up scene may not be as large as other cities, but it is certainly defined. Partially because in the Bluff City, blue suede shoes mean more than one thing – as Elvis proved.
Henry Harrison from the International "Rock-A-Billy" Museum says it seems that pin-up and this genre of music, that was born in the Mid-South, fits hand in glove. Henry Harrison from the International "Rock-A-Billy" Museum says it seems that pin-up and this genre of music, that was born in the Mid-South, fits hand in glove.
As that appetite included legendary greats succeeding in rockabilly out of Sun Studio – some women participated in the change with an outfit to match. As that appetite included legendary greats succeeding in rockabilly out of Sun Studio – some women participated in the change with an outfit to match.

Originally published July 22, 2013 - (WMC-TV) - Sometimes, you just feel you were born in the wrong era.

That's why voluptuous bell-shaped dresses, victory rolls, and celebrated tattoos are a few treasures women dedicated to pin-up styles cannot give up. Pin-up models on posters "pinned up" around the country nationwide more than 50 years ago still inspire modern pop culture.

Memphis' pin-up scene may not be as large as other cities, but it is certainly defined. Partially because in the Bluff City, blue suede shoes mean more than one thing – as Elvis proved.

Henry Harrison from the International "Rock-A-Billy" Museum says it seems that pin-up and this genre of music, that was born in the Mid-South, fits hand in glove.

"After [World War II] the [rockabilly] culture was born. Everyone was in disarray when it ended, and artists and the public in the United States wanted change. They wanted something to snap their finger to, and tap their toes, smile ... There was a strong desire for something pleasant," he said.

As that appetite included legendary greats succeeding in rockabilly out of Sun Studio – some women participated in the change with an outfit to match. And although pin-up models' influence had been around since the late nineteenth century, its most memorable looks were from around the time rockabilly kicked off.

"People probably just wanted to be able to take a break from all the stress and worry. So what's a better way to do that than dance? Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Elvis had such a huge influence in the 50s. I think people were desperate for something that would help them get by, and music does that, doesn't it?" said Amanda Hill, the owner and photographer with Memphis Bombshells.

Memphis Bombshells is a local group dedicated to preserving pin-up culture – they even have classes showing women classic makeup techniques and the iconic poses, and, of course, how to orchestrate the timeless hair-dos.

Their hair and makeup artist, Stephanie Brick, said women who participate in aspects of pin-up culture do not live different from anyone else, they simply show their love for vintage beauty by the style of clothes they wear. When it comes down to women in Memphis, specifically, the pin-up style has a dash of rockabilly flair to it.

"That has to do with musical influence and the city being so music-driven," she said. "I used to love looking at old photos of [my grandmother] with her perfect eyebrows, winged liner and red lipstick. To me, she was like an old movie star. That same style of makeup that I watched her apply during those mornings is what I use today on my bombshells."

While dressing in pin-up is a classic American look shared nationally, the Memphis Bombshells and other women in the Bluff City try to shop local.

Many women hit CrazyBeautiful, a boutique in east Memphis, for modern pin-up pieces. The owner describes some of the looks as American redneck glam meets psycho-billy.

"I think modern day pinups are blended in with the rockabilly style because today's pinup culture celebrates ladies who may have heavy tattoos, listen to rockabilly music, and hang out with other people who do the same," said Hill. "While most fashion magazines require models to hide their tattoos, pin-up magazines celebrate them. Lots of designers now have names like "Hell Bunny" and "Trashy Diva". That style resonates with the pin-up culture now. You don't have to have a tattoo, but it is celebrated and not excluded."

As an enthusiastic audience adores this style, many people are not aware of it or that it is still popular in modern fashion. The Memphis Bombshells would like to broaden that audience locally because they believe it is a culture women can feel comfortable admiring.

"We definitely romanticize the pin-up time, I think because that was an era which really loved and celebrated women, rather than exploiting them," said Fatty McClure, who who shares modeling mannerisms as the Memphis Bombshells posing and personality trainer. "The clothes and makeup were designed to complement a woman, rather than really change her."

The Memphis Bombshells will have their next round of classes in August.

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