La bella figura and the Picasso complex: from Lost in Translation to Street of Dreams, Scarlett Johansson, the Dolce & Gabbana ambassador

Jo Batsakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Since appearing in Lost in Translation in 2003, Scarlett Johansson has become somewhat of a cultural Italian icon: an American star who is perceived as an aesthetic representation of Italian femininity, customs and traditions. Because of her cinematic collaborations with two Italian-American filmmakers and her role as ambassador for the legendary Italian fashion house Dolce & Gabbana, Johansson’s public persona has transformed into an international super-star who embodies the essential Italian-esque qualities she performs in order to sell the ideal bella figura image to the world. This article is divided into two halves and will explore how Johansson is perceived as an Italian icon through specific patterns of stardom and national identity related to Italian culture. The first half will establish Johansson’s conceptual association with Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita in Lost in Translation through an engagement with the study of Pablo Picasso’s decomposition artworks. The second half of the article will examine Johansson’s role as an ambassador for Dolce & Gabbana, and how we can interpret Johansson’s image in Martin Scorsese’s Street of Dreams as a sellable commodity for which Scorsese channels narratives of Sicilian immigration to both cinema and fashion-based markets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-290
Number of pages12
JournalCelebrity Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2018


  • bella figura
  • fashion
  • Italian
  • Johansson
  • Picasso
  • Scorsese

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