Besieged by superhero movies, we are all well aware of latex couture, PVC, rubber, and leather being the basis of our most recent movie costuming. But there has been styles/wardrobes/make-up and even everyday items worn in Hollywood movies that become iconic above and beyond the possible ‘interesting’ material they are made from. James Dean’s cherry-red windbreaker from Rebel Without a Cause is one such famous movie wardrobe piece. That jacket comes up for action this week.
Practicality seems to have been behind the choosing of this specific red jacket. Rebel’s director Nicholas Ray explained in a Vanity Fair article “Dangers Talents” that he consulted with Group Theater designer John Hamilton and they simply improvised the look for Dean during meetings with Dean in Ray’s living room…where Ray had a red couch. He felt that red on red infused Dean and the movie with danger, Also, when he found out Rebel would be shot in color, Ray realized that red is the color with the lowest frequency, staying on the human retina the longest.
Palm Beach Modern Auctions is selling the nylon jacket, a piece of modern culture as much made famous because of Dean and his turn in Rebel, as to the fact that the actor died in a car crash a mere week before Rebel premiered. Dying so young, having only three movie starring roles to his name and cutting such a sexy anti-hero image makes Dead collectibles like this jacket all that more scare.
Like the sparkly skintight dress, Marilyn Monroe wore when she sang “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy, or a gold lame Nudie Cohn worn by Elvis, James Deans jacket is a piece of textile art of the highest order. Auction predictions have it fetching as high as $600,000 when it finally finds a home.