For Summer 2013
That itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny red bikini has been around for 1,700 years!
Roman mosaic from the Piazza Amerina in Sicily (late (late 3rd - early 4th Century AD) often referred to as the red bikini. 16 centuries later, Jantzen began life as the Portland Knitting Company. Founders Carl Jantzen, Roy and John Zehntbauer's bathing suits became popular and the company name was changed to Jantzen Knitting Mills in 1918.
Jantzen commissioned the popular American illlustrator, Coles Phillips (1880-1927), to create this artwork in 1921 that featured a red bathing suit that eventually became iconic as their trademark.
Illustrator George Petty (1894-1975), famous for his air-brushed illustrations of pin-up girls did this to help brand the product.
Earl Oliver Hurst (1895-1958) created many illustrations for Jantzen magazine ads before and during World War II (see below) and featured the iconic red bathing suit in this example. Hurst has always been one of my favorites for his peppy, pleasant and attractive subjects wonderfully rendered in vivid colored inks.
Back to a Petty girl from a 1940s ad, unusual for its reference to the illustrator, who had already become a celebrity in the prewar period.
An example of the slick style that made Petty famous. This type of pin-up art found its way as nose art on many U.S. military aircraft from World War II through the Korean War period of 1950-1953.
An old Petty illustration from mid-century or before. This male figure looks awkward to me, as if an art director insisted that he be included because Jantzen also manufactured suits for men as well.
This is typical of the Hurst ads with headline text floating at the top in a furling banner. The splash seems too clumsy to be the work of Hurst, perhaps added after the fact by someone in the ad agency's art department. I feel certain that Hurst argued that the whole point of competitive diving is not to make a splash.
Here's another Jantzen red bathing suit. Hurst kept the male swim trunks and wearer in the background so as not to compete for attention with the female model. This is so much better than the Petty version above where the female subject is overpowered by an unlikely looking male.
Pete Hawley (1916-1975) did more for the Jantzen brand than any other illustrator. He kept the client for more decades than the others. Janizen wisely kept him busy knowing that his fetching female bathers were eye candy for magazine readers.
Hawley and Hurst had a great sense of design as well as exceptional skill as illustrators. Of course it could be the talent of an art director who laid out the piece. or perhaps the combined intelligence and skill of all concerned to produce such a smashing final product.
Even multiple products didn't seem to faze Pete Hawley, but must have been a nightmare to conceive and then render. He probably rendered each figure separately as in the ad below.
And here are more by Pete Hawley.
Hawley's earlier and simpler style in this ad which appeared in Esquire magazine for June 1946
The heavy black outline might have been influenced by an iconic style of René Gruau, shown below.
René Gruau has been the subject of an earlier post, found by clicking on this link
You can imagine my surprise when I saw this episode in Mad Men where the fictional advertising agency creative director Don Draper is shown supposedly pitching the Jantzen account with this bogus presentation. As if . . .
. . . as if the Jantzen ad legacy hadn't existed.
The Wall Street Journal had this to say about the fourth season of Mad Men and this episode. I freelanced ad agencies for at least a decade in this post-World War II period and I must say that I never saw agency prinicples drinking in the office. Martinis were the popular cocktail and taken at lunch or after the day's work. The story boards shown are about as phony as this layout which has the look of Ogilvy & Mather except for the grimacing model and a totally inappropriate headline tease.