Dressing Dangerously: Dysfunctional Fashion in Film

Yale University Press

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Jonathan Faiers

Hardcover | 24.28 x 2.62 x 29.97 cm | 320 pp

Yale University Press | 2013 | 9780300184389

A thought-provoking examination of the challenging and sometimes sinister roles that fashion has played in the history of cinema.

When Marlene Dietrich makes her entrance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Stage Fright, the Dior dress she wears immediately draws the viewer’s attention―not because of its designer label, but owing to the dramatic blood stains ruining its stylish surface. Fashion in film goes far beyond glamorous costumes on glamorous stars, as Jonathan Faiers proves in Dressing Dangerously, a pioneering study of the “cinematic negative wardrobe” revealed in mainstream movies. The book emphasises how problematic, even shocking depictions of dress, until now largely overlooked, play pivotal roles in shaping film narrative. 

Integrating fashion theory, film analysis, and literature, the insightful text investigates the ways cinema influences fashion and, conversely, how fashion speaks to film. The book also reveals how clothing, imbued with its own symbolic meaning, can be read much like a text; when used to provocative effect, for example, in films such as Villain, Leave Her to Heaven, and Casino,  the stars’ costumes as well as their actions elicit a complex set of emotional responses. Dressing Dangerously brings together a wealth of illustrations, from glossy publicity photos featuring immaculately dressed stars to film stills that capture "dangerously" fashionable moments.

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