Mis en scene
Spectacle and Excess
What is the difference between fashion and costume? As Booth Moore points out, ‘both deal in fantasy – and reality’ (Moore, 2012: 151). While fashion operates more in the real world, it is often the real world that catwalk collections, and sometimes we as individuals, strive to escape from. ‘Costume designers, on the other hand, strive for reality to sell a fantasy’ (Moore, 2012: 154).
While fashion as an academic subject has only recently been taken seriously, there has at least been a tendency for serious writers to debate dress. As Cook points out, costume design has been marginalised by film theorists (1996: 41) an issue that Pamela Church Gibson ascribes to the assumptions of male writers that fashion is both feminine and frivolous.
But the relationship between film and fashion is far from frivolous or exclusively feminine. Indeed, it is a relationship, not just between designers and actors, but between directors and actors, actors and characters, characters and audiences. As Street points out, film costume ‘frequently operates as a ‘system’ governed by complex influences that relate to notions of realism, performance, gender, status and power’ (Street, 2001: 2). But it’s reciprocal relationship with the audience means that the boundaries between costume and fashion are not as simple as being able to designate them to separate languages and systems, at least not entirely.
In this session, we examine the various ‘functions’ of film costume as well as statements that costume sometimes makes, independent and in excess of film requirements.
VIDEO SYNOPSIS OF THE BIRDS
INTERACTIVE LECTURE LINK here
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