An integral part of all Fashion in Film projects, research helps develop a deeper understanding of how the worlds of fashion and film have intersected since the beginning of cinema.
Working with filmmakers, scholars, distributors, fashion designers, artists and film archivists internationally, Fashion in Film provides a platform for rare and never-before-seen films. Going beyond showcasing contemporary fashion films, our aim is to address current practices in a broader context. We explore the convergence of fashion and film throughout the history of the moving image, from early cinema to the present day. As well as raising awareness of remarkable costume and set design, we encourage a critical re-examination of how fashion and fashionable dress have been represented in film, and how film has used fashion as a form of visual spectacle.
Interdisciplinary by its very nature, our research spans not only fashion and the moving image but also design, art, literature, popular visual culture, aesthetics, politics and society.
Our past research has been supported by numerous organisations, including Central Saint Martins, London College of Fashion, French Institute, Arts Council England, City University of New York and the British Council.
We organise public workshops, seminars and symposia, and have participated in events at venues including the Arnhem Mode Biennale, AIGA’s international design conference, Design Museum Holon and Yale University.
Marketa Uhlirova has asked Alistair O’Neill about his curatorial process in organising the retrospective exhibition of Guy Bourdin, the photographer’s legacy and those elusive ‘fashion films’.
‘…it does not serve primarily as a rise to eroticism; rather, it produces an evocation of seemingly empty time, but one brimming with disconnection.’
‘Finally, the twins both pull on what look like homemade balaclavas, demonstrating that getting ready is a form of preparation for camouflage and deception.’
‘What place does fashion occupy during a war conflict? Is there – and can there be – room for fashion at times when poor economic conditions, coupled with great anxiety and uncertainty, permeate people’s lives, turning them upside down?’
‘Lisa…theatrically displays her new dress…establishes the tension between the couple’s highly gendered professional lives…’
‘The lady’s shoe holds a very special position within the film. It is not only a sign of the wearer’s gender and social class, it is also the central element of the plot, the very reason for which passions are ignited.’
‘…the seductive powers of female footwear will be explored through the male attraction to the foot dressed in a shoe, as well as through the female fascination with the actual fashionable object.’
‘The performance of (animated) actors and actresses is replaced by a performance of different kinds of gloves.’
Essay by Lynda Nead Georges Méliès’s Le déshabillage impossible and Ferdinand Zecca’s Monsieur et Madame sont pressées
‘Within this context of fashionable layers and the proliferation of fasteners, trimmings and openings, the processes of dressing and undressing took on a particular symbolic significance…’
‘In the German culture of the nineteenth century, hats that fly from people’s heads were a sign of existential danger looming in the near future.’
‘The clothes themselves spring into action, as if to combat the inertia of their wearers.’
‘The Enigma programme probes in detail the behaviour of the object of fashion in the moving image. It invites clothes to step out of their closets, making their secret lives known.’
‘Howard Hawks’s Fig Leaves (1926) tells a story of a marital dispute and a transformation of a female heroine from a wholesome, housebound girl to a refined, sophisticated and independent woman.’
Quotes compiled by Inga Fraser
‘The questions he [William Klein] raises around identity and masquerade are still resonant – while the excesses of the fashion world and the mania around celebrity are even more relevant today.’