Pamcore! How Pamela Anderson became an unlikely Gen Z fashion icon

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee may not have been the defining celebrity couple of their era, but they perhaps heralded the next: the leaked sex tapes, tabloid infamy and rock’n’roll excess presaged the game of media cat-and-mouse that has now become commonplace.

new drama series on Disney+, documenting their romance and how their stolen sex tape unwittingly ushered in a new era of celebrity pornography, begins next week.

The show also displays Anderson’s surprise rise as a Gen Z fashion icon. From the X-rated Marilyn Monroe in Playboy to a living Barbie doll in Baywatch, Anderson’s fashion aesthetic has become an unlikely fashion reference for celebrities such as Megan Fox and Kourtney Kardashian.

Despite being labelled “white trash” at the time, Anderson’s love of revealing outfits seems entirely in keeping with the current revival for low-rise jeans and cut-out looks. Lily James, who plays Anderson, wore a silver cut-out dress to the LA premiere.

“So much of what Pam wore has come back around,” said Kameron Lennox, the show’s costume designer. “What Pam was creating was her version of a 90s pinup.” Lennox calls Anderson’s look a “mix of Bridget Bardot and Barbarella, with a rock’n’roll undertone”.

As well as sourcing Anderson’s outfits by Versace, Vivienne Westwood and Azzedine Alaïa from vintage dealers – and remaking her infamous latex dress from scratch – the most challenging part of Lennox’s job, she said, was recreating the outfits that were fit for her surgically enhanced figure.

“We spent a great deal of time making sure that Lily was wearing pieces the way Pam did,” she said. “For example, we studied the photos and videos of the real Pamela in the Baywatch bathing suit, to make sure the suit laid on [James’s] body the exact way it did in real life.”

With a narrative that revolves around making and stealing the couples’ sex tape, the costume designer also faced the challenge of recreating those outfits. “There were many challenges: both of them are scantily clad in many scenes and it was important to us that not only did it look ‘right’, but that they felt confident and comfortable,” she said.

Since the trailer was first released for the series in December, searches for “red swimming costume” and “black leather corset” (one of Anderson’s most famous looks) have increased by 74% and 45% respectively on eBay. Smaller details, such as Anderson’s thin eyebrows and oversized furry bucket hat worn at the MTV Awards, are still referenced.

And there is also the rock-influenced look of the duo, that feels like a precursor to the modern Hollywood relationships of Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox, or Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian.

“Pam is viewed as a strong, powerful, confident woman that held her own during a very difficult time,” said Lennox. “She inspired many young people that are now adults.”