Fashion as Image II

Fashion as Image II

Session chairs:

Andrea Kollnitz, PhD, Assistant Professor, Centre for Fashion Studies/Art History Department, Stockholm University, [email protected]

Patrik Steorn, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher, Centre for Fashion Studies/Art History Department, Stockholm University, [email protected]


The Image is Walking

Nathalie Khan, Central St Martins College of Art and Design, London, UK

Digital fashion film as a commercial genre is a recent phenomenon. To date there has been little discussion of the impact of the digital image on photography or the catwalk show. But what is central to the shift from conventional representations of fashion to digital fashion film is the impact of movement, time and continuous flow on the way we perceive fashion. Both Metzand Wollen have explored the relationship between the static image and film. In their discussion on the ontological nature of photography, stillness is linked to the past, transience or death. The paper will explore the impact of digital film on the fashion cycle and will discuss how the circulation and vast flow of visual images have changed our notion of fashion as a transient moment in time.

Fashion film as a genre did not only affect the status of the fashion photograph, but also impacted on the tradition of the catwalk show. The central focus will be on Ruth Hogben’s recent collaboration with Garth Pugh and her film IMMAGINE No 79, during the Spring 2011 Pitti shows in Florence. Hogben’s film offers a different dimension within the fashion cycle. While the catwalk show is presented in real time, digital media creates what Manovich has described as ‘permanent presence’. By simulating space, time and reality, Hogben breaks with the discourse of the fashion show by replacing not only physical presence with virtual representation but pure image consumption with the material nature of the fashion garment.


Looking at Fashion, Fashioning Looking

Geraldine Biddle-Perry, Central St Martins College of Art and Design, London, UK

This paper explores how a rapidly expanding fashion media from the nineteenth century created a new visual rhetoric of popular consumerism in the graphic and photographic representation of highly-coded fashionable bodies that consumers were encouraged to imagine, identify and interpret.

It examines the ways in which shifting ideals of class and gender – embodied in new forms of fashionable clothing and consumption – are transformed through representation and a constantly shifting repertoire of recognizable figurative ‘types’, gestures, poses and compositional features that ‘frame’ fashionable consumption.

The paper draws on a wide body of interdisciplinary critical perspectives to interrogate how pictorial conventions shape the way we look at fashion and the role fashion images play in the mechanisms of the optical unconscious. The emphasis is on addressing fashion images on their own terms, in ways specific to a medium that shares a photographic vocabulary and a photographic vision that generates its own particular way of making meaning.  The aim is to move away from merely demonstrating how fashion images have historically propagated style and celebrated change. The paper rather examines the evolution of the modern fashionable imagination: a mechanism for the didactic circulation of fashionable desire generated through new forms of fashion spectatorship.


Reception of Glamour in Post-Soviet Social Imagination’

Anna Koneva, Russian Institute of Cultural Research, St Petersburg, Russia

This article is focused on the influence of Glamour on the social imagination of post-Soviet people. I look at two important aspects of modern popular culture: firstly the media existence of Glamour that generates new fashion images and secondly how this Glamour ideology affects fashion industry in Russia.

Several stages of Glamour reception can be identified. The first one can be named Fairytale. Reception of style here is according to the original meaning of the word “glamour”, i.e. magic, faerie. Immediate satisfaction of all desires and faerie world of abundance became like an air-grating for the mind of Soviet people. The guide of this fairytale life style became glossy magazines that appeared at the beginning of 90s. At this time new television series, first imported and then Russian, were launched into Russian TV. They were made according to glamour style.

In the fashion design of this period two tendencies of glamour reception can be tracked down– fascination with fairytale and the manifesting of anti-glamour in image construction.

At the beginning of 21 century there is a new tendency in Glamour reception – this is irony. Ironical reframing of Glamour gives rise to new advanced forms of this phenomenon in culture and prepares the basis of a new social mythology.

Glamour has its own place in image systems of Russian Modern Culture, demonstrating identity problem issues, new forms of femininity identity, and difficulties of entrance in the fashion system.


Is the Gaze Male, Female or Pedophile? Some Remarks on the Theory and the Perils of Laura Mulvey’s ‘Male Gaze’

Annamari Vänskä, Centre for Fashion Studies, Stockholm University, Sweden

Building on and discussing theories on the “male gaze” and the woman as the object of gaze (Mulvey, Wilson, Wolf, Bordo, Craik Entwistle) and the ”female gaze” on women in fashion magazines (Evans , Thornton, Lewis, Rolley) and finally my own theory on “the homospectatorial look”, I want to investigate a current phenomenon in the visual culture created by fashion industry.

Its most recent development touches upon children: it is argued, that the entire children’s fashion industry operates as an institutionalized arena, which represents eroticized images of children, which adults can look at without sanctioning (Giroux). It is proposed that fashion advertising provides a structure of gaze, where adults—both women and men—are encouraged to consume the image of the child, who is represented classically as innocent and therefore as erotically titillating. Adults, who gaze at children, it seems, participate in what Richard D. Mohr calls ‘pedophilia of everyday life’. With this concept, Mohr does not refer to actual real-life pedophiles. Instead, he writes about an imaginary figure or a symbol and states that the innocent child is needed for maintaining the ‘normal social order’.

My paper addresses these complicated developments in the theory of the gaze and aims to contextualize them in the wider developments in the societal and academic discourses of marginalized groups. Through the concept of the ‘pedophilic gaze’ the paper also asks whether concentration solely on the gaze is enough. Should academic researchers of images widen their horizons?