Model and the World of Fashion

2006 | Between Stigma and Enigma

Chytilová’s Ceiling and Klein’s Who are You, Polly Magoo?make two powerful comments on 1960s fashion and cinematography. Both are prime examples of cinema d’auteur but each has a strikingly different vision and sensibility: one is an introspective essay, the other an uncompromising parody. Filmed in Prague and Paris respectively, they are loaded with sharp insights into the fashion world that complement those of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966) set in London. Like Antonioni, Chytilová and Klein approach the fashion and the surrounding media world critically, treating it as a sign of the vacancy and self-indulgence of contemporary society and human relationships within. Both Chytilová (a mannequin in the early 1950s) and Klein (an on-and-off fashion photographer) were fashion industry insiders, and thus ideally equipped to thoroughly investigate their subject; in this case a fashion model as a character type. Yet for both directors the model remains something of a mysterious, otherworldly creature. As Ginette Spanier, directrice for Pierre Balmain, put it, “They [mannequins] have very little to do with life as usually lived on this planet…”

Watch William Klein’s Q&A at Ciné lumière on the SHOWstudio website


>Read Peter Hames’ essay Vera Chytilová’s Ceiling
>Read Pamela Church Gibson’s essay Qui Êtes-Vous, Polly Maggoo?
>Read quotes compiled by Inga Fraser Model and the World of Fashion





Who are You, Polly Maggoo?

Who are You, Polly Maggoo?, the 1967 winner of the French Prix Jean Vigo, remains a quintessential film by one of the wittiest and most versatile veteran artists... More »


Chytilová’s Ceiling makes a powerful comment on 1960s fashion and cinematography. It is a prime example of cinema d’auteur and an introspective essay... More »