Fashion Theory Seminar: Archaeology of Fashion Film (2017-2019)

Still-image taken from Hussein Chalayan 1999 film “Airplane Dress” by Marcus Tomlinson

For the sixth installment within the Fashioning Theory seminar series, Caroline Evans and Marketa Uhlirova of Central Saint Martins discussed the dynamic nature of the fashion film and its relevance within the fields of fashion and media studies. The lecture commenced by exploring how media archaeology can serve as a tool to better understand contemporary fashion films and why designers, throughout history, have turned to film in order to create historical narratives, while also serving the brand’s more commercial needs. Evans and Uhlirova began by showing a contemporary example of Spike Jonze’s perfume advertisement film for Kenzo World, an expressionist-type parody of classic perfume ads, followed by earlier film examples from commercial brands during the 1910s and 20s, showing the ways in which brands throughout history have shaped the genre of the fashion film.

The seminar’s correspondent, Nick Rees-Roberts who received his PhD in proposed some of the questions that arose during his doctoral research on the fashion film and how he attempts to position the genre more in tangent with media history. Rees-Roberts pointed out the importance of deconstructing more privileged narratives within fashion film in order to broaden the industry dialogue on representations of gender, sex, race, age, and body image.

Overall, the evening was incredibly thought-provoking, creating more questions that answers in terms of the fashion film’s place within academic discourse. Since this is just the beginning of the “Archaeology of the Fashion Film” research for Evans and Uhlirova, you can follow their upcoming progress on the Central Saint Martins website. Nick Rees-Roberts will also have his book Fashion Film: Art and Advertising in the Digital Age available for purchase starting January 2019.

On that final note, we will see you at the next Fashioning Theory Seminar in Fall of 2018! For more information, please follow our program on Facebook or Instagram.

Written by Ariel Stark, MA Fashion Studies, 2017-19