FFC 1 (1) pp.

3–6 Intellect Limited 2012

Film, Fashion & Consumption Volume 1 Number 1
© 2012 Intellect Ltd Editorial. English language. doi: 10.1386/ffc.1.1.3_2


There seem to be unwritten but carefully observed rules around the content and style of the particular Editorial that must accompany the appearance of a new journal. Editors should begin by persuading their readers that what they are looking at constitutes an essential addition to the academy, one that merits its place amongst the considerable number of journals currently in circulation. There is also a particular tone that is usually adopted – no hint of levity is permitted. However, I would like students as well as scholars to open this journal with interest rather than through a feeling of duty, and wish to open up dialogues with its readers; consequently, towards the very end of this Foreword, the tone will be deliberately provocative. I shall nevertheless begin, as is expected, by stressing that there is a real need for a journal like this. However, I would suggest that I might have rather more justification than most editors; there is widespread interest in the subject matter, these three interlinked concepts are central to changes within contemporary visual culture, and the subject of cinematic costume continues to be sidelined, as Helen Warner explains in her article here. Editors often proceed to set out a kind of stall, giving clear guidelines for potential contributors, creating a specific vision for the future of the journal. Here, I must make it very clear that I hope that the subject matter of submissions will be wideranging. There is no narrow remit; I am determined to keep the boundaries fluid, and hopefully to attract both scholars and practitioners from a range of different disciplines. ‘Fashion’ is here to be used in the very widest sense of the term, while the terms ‘film’ and ‘consumption’ will not be confined to the screens of cinema and television. There are, increasingly, significant developments and activities in cyberspace; the last paragraph of Sarah Gilligan’s article describes the extraordinary scope of contemporary consumption around cinema. She goes on to indicate ways in which scholarship might reflect this complexity and


the publication of the landmark text Fabrications: Costume and the Female Body. a designer and practitioner who worked on The Matrix trilogy. writing only of the desires created through new cinematic images for glamorous clothes. Gilligan describes her own incredulity that ‘heritage’ scholars have so resolutely ignored dress. seem often to ignore what audiences. which finally made ‘fashion’ a completely legitimate area of scholarship by dispelling feminist concerns and settling issues around the compatibility of fashion and socialism. I would suggest that it was as significant a volume as Adorned in Dreams. this. I might also add here that I would like to see a special edition on ‘new media’ – so this may be considered as a call for papers. which created their ‘distinctive bent’ (Eckert [1978] in Gaines and Herzog 1990: 121). which considers recent portrayals of musicians on screen. cigarettes. too. ‘Audience studies’. again. so I will not elaborate further. My own interest in fashion on-screen has always been accompanied by concern that this. analysed nor investigated. but no real scrutiny of their activities when not seated within an auditorium. edited by film scholars Jane Gaines and Charlotte Herzog. Helen Warner’s article follows the later trajectory of literature within the field. opened up a completely new area of academic enquiry. However. however. I am delighted to have in this first issue an essay by Sue Osmond. as yet . and more (ibid. Undressing Cinema. the source of so much pleasure for the audience and so much – often hidden – profit for the film-maker should go uninterrogated. something that I hope will be remedied here. He also describes a train snaking across America carrying toys for the boys – cars. outlining modes of academic practice and interdisciplinary scholarship that I hope to see reflected in future issues. Stella Bruzzi’s book. is something that is both vitally important to scholarship and invariably neglected. such a fundamental part of this genre’s 4 . thus explaining the acceleration of consumption and the pace of fashion change across the last century. as Warner explains. in fact. In 1990. Gaines and Herzog also reprinted Charles Eckert’s essay of 1978. His article moves into two other fields of scholarship which I hope will be seen in forthcoming issues. I hope that sociologists and cultural geographers will make submissions to this journal. The Carole Lombard in Macy’s Window. Music. both past and present. I hope that this journal will look at ‘fashions’ here. The cinema set up a new relentless cycle of demand and supply. Elizabeth Wilson’s equally seminal book of 1985. I would like to stress the exclusion of practitioners from these debates.Pamela Church Gibson so move forward. which is still central to the very concerns reflected within the pages of this journal. He considers both sub-cultural style and the differing patterns of consumption within particular cities at precise historical moments. did or do outside the cinema. fashion and cinema have significant links that are unexplored and unexplained. I was equally pleased to receive Noel McLaughlin’s essay.: 122). The cinema arguably played a decisive role in changing fashions of interior design and creating new ideas of what a ‘home’ should be like – something not . changing portrayals of masculinity and questions around ethnicity. past and present. actually shaped by Hollywood cinema. The demands for new styles right across the spectrum of applied design continue to be created on-screen. extended the debate around costume on-screen to include contemporary cinema and European film. there are detailed demographics. Her article considers the relationship between cinema and theatrical performance. Eckert was not. In 1997. Eckert argued persuasively that the patterns and the pace of modern consumer culture were. central to film scholarship.

There are also feature films where fashion ‘product placement’ constitutes a central part of their appeal to their target audience. contradictory meanings. The reason for the relevance of the journal today is surely the fact that. the last sequence of the film shows the entire nation waiting urgently for the broadcast which will inspire them. from well-known. now hoping to sweep all before it at the Oscars. but it has different. to be screened on television and online. This essay describes them most carefully. the House of Dior did not respond to our requests to use their images. and will begin that process here. Jean. Blahnik shoes placed reverently on a shelf. the topography of visual culture has completely changed during the last 10 years. Here. the culmination of each being the use of stills from the films as part of a magazine advertising campaign . a Louis Vuitton handbag presented as a gift and held in shot. important feminist concerns around both ‘heritage’ and costume film. teen blogger Tavi has taken her place on the jury there. and am perturbed that my only co-critic seems to be the right-wing journalist Christopher Hitchens.Editorial continuing appeal. Such films show how far we have moved from earlier decorous collaborations between star and couturier. Nick Rees. So far. These internet offerings seem to be what those who work within the fashion industry see as the true ‘fashion films’. we watch soldiers gather to 5 . and the suggestion of another special issue to examine this. But there is another form of ‘fashion film’ in the commercials now commissioned by the luxury brands. of course. The King’s Speech (Tom Hooper. the leading fashion houses. Instead. that object of continued fascination and presumed mode of subjugation. Antonia Primorac raises new. The phrase ‘fashion film’ is gaining ground. her essay examines mystique and supposition around ‘the corset’.com to create such films. the cinematic incarnations of Sex and the City (King. the calculated ransacking of ‘image banks’ which characterises contemporary advertising. well-presented heritage film – but without any of the progressive elements that some film scholars have found within earlier examples of that genre. now the goods themselves are displayed independently.Roberts’ essay examines Dior’s recent deployment of the charismatic body and the complex cinematic persona of French film star Alain Delon. we are presented with a puzzling deference to the monarchy. We cannot look at the different strands in isolation. 2010) are central and typical. as I have argued consistently. Wong Kar-Wei. film directors. 2008. mine are for its reactionary politics and its cinematic limitations. their gnarled faces serious. There is a festival in Paris each year – a kind of Sundance for ‘fashion films’ – which screens. 2010) is relaxing after its triumphs at the BAFTA awards. His concerns are for its lack of historical veracity. I find the success of this film disturbing. This brings me to the emergence of what seems to be a new genre. David Lynch. intended to ‘showcase’ each season’s new collections. in fact. I’d suggest that it is a competent. Fashion photographer Nick Knight founded Showstudio. we need to consider the entire spectrum of media discourses and the way in which images move – or are moved – across them. I would like future issues to contain film reviews. celebrates and offers awards to the short films made and screened online.Pierre Jeunet and Baz Lurhman have all made ‘fashion films’ of this kind. even respected. This includes. no-one in the academy seems to have considered the true complexity of the phenomenon. but they can also be found online. I promised a provocative ending. As I write. Sadly. We see ‘ordinary people’ in spitand-sawdust pubs.

the King and his therapist are presented as if they alone can mitigate the impending horrors. please submit your own reviews of this film for the next issue. Stella (1997). Charlotte (1990). will serve to galvanise some readers. Undressing Cinema : Costume and Identity in the Movies London: Routledge. REFERENCES Bruzzi. 6 . This. Wilson. Adorned in Dreams : Fashion and Modernity. Gaines. New York and London: Routledge. as should films made in South-East Asia . I trust. Please also send suggestions for Special Editions to discuss cinemas from elsewhere in the world – Hindi cinema should be addressed. The posters advertising the film reinforce this. All ideas would be welcome. Fabrications: Costume and the Female Body. Tauris.B. Elizabeth (1985/2007). Jane and Herzog. London : I.Pamela Church Gibson hear what the film sets up as this King’s Eve-of-Agincourt moment.

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