The woman in the illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson was the female ideal in the 1890s and 1910s. Gibson began creating these drawings around 1890, using various models. Evelyn Nesbit – an American model, chorus girl, and actress – was one of tham.
The most famous Gibson Girl was probably the Belgian-American stage actress, Camille Clifford, whose high coiffure and long, elegant gowns that wrapped around her hourglass figure and tightly corseted wasp waist defined the style.
After Gibson’s marriage in 1895, his wife Irene (Irene Langhorne Gibson) become a model for Gibson Girl. Gibson’s Girl became the archetype of American femininity of the upper and middle class, a fashion ideal, a role model.
The Gibson’s Girl look wasn’t an easy feat to achieve. She was immaculately beautiful, with a voluminous hairstyle framing her face. She was slender, narrow-waisted, and attractively sensual. Often, dressed very exquisitely, she played sports with enthusiasm and skill. Most importantly, the Gibson Girl had a confident grace and cold confidence, was independent in relationships with men, showed a sense of humor and attitude to life, which was then associated with a “new woman”. Gibson’s girl, however, was less controversial than the new woman; she wasn’t a suffragist, didn’t get involved in politics.
The image of not a living, but just a painted Gibson Girl was imitated in the United States and Europe. After all, the Gibson Girl was always dressed in the latest, trendiest fashion. Gibson himself said, “I haven’t really created a distinctive type- the nation made the type…There isn’t any “Gibson Girl,” but there are many thousands of American girls and for that let us all thank God”.
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