The Dream: Fantasy and the Unconscious

2017 | Wearing Time: Past, Present, Future, Dream

Apparell’d in celestial light,

The glory and the freshness of a dream. 

– William  Wordsworth


This strand explores the relation between fashion and dreaming. If cinema itself has frequently been likened to dream, here we pursue more specifically its investment in the reverie as a realm in which fashion can truly flourish.

Slipping out of waking conscious time into the world of wish fulfilment or nightmare demands a different raiment. Not simply the sleepwear of pyjamas, or even the fantasy of nudity (Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams indicated that unusual clothing actually symbolised nakedness), the fashion of slumberland may invoke a projected fantasy of the future, or a sudden intrusion from the repressed past.

But the fantasy of fashion is not limited to the unconscious state. It is also a daydream, as suggested by the title of Elizabeth Wilson’s seminal 1985 book on fashion, Adorned in Dreams. In the cinema, the popular practice of costume transformations, derived from the theatre, has always been a major source of visual spectacle – a space for pleasure and escape: indeed, Hollywood films in the studio era often announced the number of costume changes a leading lady would go through as a major marketing device. Here fashion provided the medium through which dreams and fantasies could be projected.



Black Girl

18:30, 14 March, The Hoxton, Holborn
Introduced by Karen Alexander
Tickets here

Racism, colonial oppression and injustice were recurring themes for Senegalese author Ousmane Sembène, who in the 1960s turned from literature to the cinema in order for his social message to reach a broader audience. Mbissine Thérèse Diop plays Diouna, a black nanny to a French family. More »


20:30, 21 March, Genesis Cinema
With a live musical accompaniment by Stephen Horne, featuring a theremin (a musical instrument invented in Russia during the 1920s) plus a post-screening discussion with Ian Christie and Djurdja Bartlett
Tickets here

Aelita remains one of the most ambitious endeavours of Soviet Russia’s silent cinema, and a bold showcase of its avant-garde design. The film is perhaps best known for its wild cubo-futurist aesthetic flaunted in its otherworld sequences on Mars. More »

Princess Raccoon

21:00, 21 March, Curzon Soho
Introduced by Jane Tynan
Tickets here

Seijun Suzuki made a name for himself in the 1960s with his fast-moving gangster films, which increasingly became exercises in delirious action and colourful mise en scène. In this, his last film, he presents an unhinged fantasy in which elaborate costumes mark different levels of reality. More »