Films are a favorite pastime throughout many cultures of the world, films help us visualize stories of culture, history, fiction and nonfiction and many other genres in a way the written word cannot express. In the classic 1939 film “Gone with the Wind” directed by Victor Fleming, history is brought to life through the fashion, which helped emphasize the culture, trials and tribulations by the mesmerizing characters such as Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett Butler and Ashley Wilkes. The blight reputation of southerners and the period of reconstruction after the civil war is emphasized through many powerful scenes, one scene in particular shows an aerial shot of thousands of unknown lifeless, young confederate soldiers.
After the aerial shot, a scene where hundreds of family's gather in downtown Atlanta takes place and the mood is suspenseful as each family awaits the grim news, either they or the family next to them will lose a son, husband or father and some lucky souls will cry tears of joy instead of tears of loss. Long, black, bland, Victorian esque dresses paired with matching laced black veils are worn on nearly half the women and the sounds of their sorrowful sobs and shouts, begging to know whom is on the list of death overpower any other dialogue and the sight conveys the mood.
En passant, society fell so in love with Scarlett O'Hara that “Gone with the Wind” became the highest grossing film in American history, everyone was and still is mesmerized by her iconic looks. In the second scene, which some may argue is her most iconic look, her white dress off the shoulder dress is elaborated with an emerald and white series of ruffles at the bosom. The dress is complemented with an emerald velvet accessory at her waistline with minor green decals meant to illustrate a herbal green pattern scattered upon the white fabric, her dress embodied everything the way a typical southern belle would present herself in. Her chestnut hair is left down and softly curled, the anterior of her hair is pinned back with emerald bows on each side and her neck is decorated with a light coral accent necklace, her southern belle look is perfected to represent innocence.
Scarlett's next unforgettable look is her strolling dress, she wears it out to take her brand new baby girl Bonnie, out for a walk in her stroller. The dress is black and white stripped, which was a rarity at the time and could even be seen as a rather scandalous look. Her long sleeves are fitted at the top and flare out with white ruffles flowing out towards the forearm with the bodice fitted to show off Scarlett's waistline, this dress shows the progression happening in the south at the time. They were becoming a new nation fighting for their beliefs and changing to make the norm no longer the norm and women began pushing the boundaries in more ways than just "scandalous" looks.
Moreover, all of Scarlett's looks can be considered exemplary and even somewhat sordid, her red dress truly was by far the most memorable and scandalous for a woman of her time. A velvet, off the shoulder dress with feathers scattered about the border along the radiant sapphire dress with minor red beads assorted across the bodice, featuring what would then be considered, a deep plunge neckline and an iridescent ruby red shawl. Her ears are decorated with dangling sapphire diamond earrings, crimson red lipstick is based upon her lips and her chestnut hair is pulled back, exposing her ears, cheekbones and feminine structure of her face. For these reasons the audience can infer Scarlett's sapphire dress is an expression of her sensuality and an emphasis on her femininity.
Ultimately, “Gone with the Wind” is a classic film that tells the story of the south during the reconstruction period and the progression that followed, Scarlett's looks start out light and with the proper representation of a southern belle but slowly she transitions before our eyes into a sensual, modern woman after the destruction of the Confederacy. Each look she embodies portrays detail into an individual theme, whether it's innocence, death and grievance or sensuality.