Ultra Swank - Retro Adventures

Fashion and Fun Plus Bubbly Sweet Drinks

Written by James Vaughan • April 13th, 2012
Fashion and Fun Plus Bubbly Sweet Drinks

There are few examples in advertising or pop-culture which are the idealization of American youth, affluence and style, better than the Pepsi print campaigns of the 1950’s.

These magazine illustrations clearly marked out a sophisticated lifestyle and the beautiful stylish people that practiced it. The artistic style was colorful and simple with a few important details to tell the story. The setting was clearly urban, or nearby suburban, with a lot of beach and country outings mixed in. Locations might be the polo stables, a fashion show or a backyard cookout; but everyone was having fun and drinking Pepsi.

Pictured are mainstream consumers; adults not teenagers. The illustrations can be seen as almost an instruction, a ‘how-to’ of consumerism. Woman’s fashions are not just front and center but seem to be the theme of many of these Pepsi ads. Fashion is shown through-out, not just as dress, but as home furnishings and in the air of casual elegance to the festive frivolities.

It is interesting to note, that except for a few examples, the identity of the artists who created this world of soft-drink utopia are forgotten. I confess envy of the fashionable fun and beautiful people which live in Pepsi- Land. Perhaps I am really the main character of a long-lost Twilight Zone episode. In the final frames accompanied with Rod Serling epilogue, I will be:

“… glimpsed- catching a beachball- on that perfect- never ending- fizzy drink day.”

James Vaughan

James Vaughan was born in 1955, resides in Ohio and has taught at Kent State University. James spends his days photographing conceptual and editorial style studio photography.

Find out more about James Vaughan

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