Paparazzi Stalk Zoot Suit Illustrator: The Most Shocking Blog Post Of 2012
I’m working on a little project involving zoot suits. I missed that era (1940s), but always figured I’d look good in one. Thanks to Photoshop, I was able to confirm my theory. But alas, as you can see I looked too good, and attracted a lot of those annoying paparazzi.
It is, of course, a composite photograph which combines my head and neck, a zoot suit and body, and a photo of paparazzi pasted in as the backdrop. I applied a number of adjustments to give it a semi-illustrated look. Here’s a close-up. Gosh, what a sweet face…
So what’s a zoot suit? Principal features include a very long suit coat with wide padded shoulders, and high-waisted, full-cut pants that narrow to pegged cuffs. Accessories often include a wide-brimmed fedora-style hat, and a very long watch chain.
Below left: an exaggerated modern-day zoot suit costume that one might wear to a party; right: a period couple strikes a pose. The man’s tightly pegged cuffs stand out, as does his extremely long watch chain.
Every age considers itself the most hip and daring, including its fashions. The zoot suit begs to differ. It dates back to the 1940s, and looks outrageous even by today’s standards.
I like this photo of hip teens circa 1950. I only see one watch chain, but the long coats and padded shoulders are very much in evidence. The three young ladies in the middle are also wearing very long coats– the female equivalent of the “zoot look,” perhaps.
A few years ago, I did some local community theater. I played an unscrupulous music promoter, complete with cigar. I lifted my head and neck from this grainy photo taken during dress rehearsal. Is that a face you could trust? No.
Here’s the paparazzi photo I used for the backdrop. I used a Hue/Saturation adjustment to desaturate the image, then applied a simple Photo filter to give it a cool blue tint. I also applied a Noise>Median filter which blurs an image while largely preserving its natural edges.
I boosted the color in my face with a Brightness/Contrast adjustment, then applied the Median filter to smooth out the grain. The most skillful aspect of the piece is probably the tint I added to the B&W suit using color adjustments and a sepia Photo filter. The tint complements the skin tones, and creates the illusion of an integrated color image.
What do you think? Will you be hustling down to the local vintage clothing store to buy a zoot suit? Is your favorite illustrator even more impossibly hip than you thought?? Hope you’ll leave a comment.
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