Fashioning the Cinematic Screen – Body Transmediality, Appearance and the ‘Event’

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1.       Introduction – The New Media and the Body Transformation

In the age of new technologies, the question arises whether new media can bring something new to contemporary fashion? The work of Turkish – British designer Hussein Chalayan and Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, as fundamental representatives of the symbiosis of technology, media, fashion and art, we take it as a paradigm when we talk about the possibilities of the new media in fashion, but also vice versa, fashion in new media. This relationship, very much present in the work of Chalayan and van Herpen, brought a departure from the classical, anthropological understanding of the term medium as ‘extensions of the human senses’ (McLuhan, 1964). This paper also takes into account McLuhan’s understanding of the concept of media but in the context of fashion as follows:

1. Contemporary fashion takes place as a media representation of the body in an event

2. The body becomes a media object

3. The notion of the observer (audience) changes its meaning

There are many definitions of the term media but what this paper seeks to clarify is how they are used within contemporary fashion discourse and how they have contributed to the ever-changing fashion practice. New media is used as a term in many theories and research and thus there is a loss of references and a difficult recognition of what exactly the term media refers to. In the anthropological understanding of the media as extensions, coined by Marshall McLuhan, the media are part of the technical environment and the human environment and act as extensions of the human body and its abilities (McLuhan, 1964). Paul Virilio, a French cultural theorist, urban planner and aesthetic philosopher, on the trail of McLuhan, elaborated in detail what are media studies and how he uses the term media as a prosthesis (Virilio, 2000). In contemporary fashion practice, there is an adjustment to the media, but also conversely, the media adapts to the form of fashion practice. Sunčana Tuksar states how the media are always overlaping into various areas – film, fashion, literature and that there is a clear transgression between these areas. (Tuksar, 2021). Media in the context of contemporary fashion, as this research understands it, represents a new set of cultural information which identifies the body practice.

The difference lies in the media mediating the same message and thus changing the relationship between the subject (sender) and the object (recipient) of the message (Paić, 2008: 87). Let us dwell for a moment on these authors when we are talking about the media transformation of the body in fashion. McLuhan’s media theory suggests that the media always refers to other media. In that sense, McLuhan states: ”The effect of the media is strong, it is also profound because it is ”given another medium as content” (McLuhan, 2008: 22). The same way a semiotic sign always refer to another sign, the circulation of the media no longer points to reality, but it is about the symbolic construction of reality. As no media is autonomous and homogeneous (Mitchell, 2005) in the digital age, media impurity occurs because everything mixes and appears in hybrid forms, and this is exactly what is characteristic of modern fashion. It is a constant metamorphosis of the same in various forms. However, we need to distinguish the media according to two criteria of practical use according to Žarko Paić: 1. technical and technological 2. socio-cultural (Paić, 2008: 92).

Contemporary fashion, therefore, belongs to the socio-cultural criterion, which ”refers to change social structures and cultural orders by introducing a ‘new’ medium ‘(Paić, 2008: 92). Fashion therefore radically changed its structure with the introduction of media but also experienced fundamental changes in fashion photography and fashion film which we will talk about in the following chapters. New media have their complex structures, abolishing old concepts of understanding time and space and causing decentralization or to be precise the loss of the centre. The instantaneity of appearance, which is expressed in fashion practice, comes from the field of media. The media makes us immediate participants, whether we like it or not.

The age of telepresence in virtual space, loss of space of reality related to experience and temporal distance, are the concepts that were introduced by the Austrian artist, curator and new media theorist Peter Weibel. Weibel calls this the era of absence, a period of radical absence and telematic presence (Weibel, 2005). Flusser went a step further in considering information transfer and distance communication. Primarily the fundamental difference is that technology is not a human tool and the media are not just “extensions of man”. Media, like technology as a whole, is of an IT nature because according to Flusser, it is a concept of technology (technical images) that generate the reality of the world. It is about the transfer of social relations between entities, which create a telematic society, one that exchanges information and communicates on distance. Contemporary fashion in this context finds its identity because it takes place at a distance as a medialized event in the magnificent performance of the body. The identity is, as Sunčana Tuksar writes ”virtual identity in the transmedial understanding” and ”where there is identity, there is culture” (Tuksar, 2021: 96). The era of absence has arrived in which the body and corporeality are established differently. In this context, contemporary fashion signifies a new media platform in which we can connect time, space and the body in motion. The body in the new media is at the same time absent and present.

Hussein Chalayan’s work has been marked by the usage of technology in collaboration with the body. He includes technology in fashion installations and collections, while Iris van Herpen considers technology as a fundamental starting point of contemporary fashion. In that sense, Van Herpen went a step further in her research. Her understanding and experimentation with body and materials, at all levels of contemporary fashion design, emphasized the importance of fashion silhouette and body performance. Unlike Chalayan, van Herpen subtly uses technology in collaboration with the body, creating delicate contours and presenting soft, voluminous fashion objects. Technology is no longer an extension, it is already a matter of complete acceptance of the physical with the technological. The fundamental elements of fire, water, earth and air, van Herpen includes in the work on the trail of Alexander McQueen. However, modern fashion, in the context of body transformation, is represented in photography and then film. Therefore, in this article, preference is given to the field of photography and fashion film, to show the paradigm shifts in a fashion that led to the transformation of the body. Although some designers, such as Chalayan, directly involve the media as extensions, photography and film radically change the representation of fashion. Thanks to new media, fashion performances and the presentation of the collections take place, as predicted by Flusser, at a distance. In this sense, the fashion house Maison Martin Margiela presents the couture autumn-winter collection from 2012 in which there is no audience but there is a camera that monitors and records everything. Fashion photography and fashion film have gone a step further in considering the relationship between fashion, body and corporeality. The most significant changes in contemporary fashion have taken place in the context of fashion photography, fashion film and fashion performance, all under the visible influence of the media. Therefore, the notion of media is the basis for understanding the shift of the paradigm that fashion experienced at the beginning of the 1990s.

2. Fashion Film – from the Golden Age of Hollywood to Experimental Fashion Film

The emergence of fashion film after the 1990s as a new possibility of body performance, as well as the emergence of the body on the screen, is an important area that combines fashion theory and media as well as the field of film and photography. Film and photography in the context of contemporary fashion represent a valuable field in which the emergence of a new cinematic body is explored. It is certain that the film, and before that photography, provided an insight into the new concept of body and reality. With the advent of photography and film, the process of mediation radically changed its course; the result is a forever changed fashioned body. The connection between fashion and film and, finally, the emergence of the term fashion film after the 1990s, dates back to the period of classic films and big movie stars, so it is necessary to briefly chronologically describe how film influenced fashion and vice versa. It is important to emphasize how fashion film is not genre-specific film, as stated by Croatian filmologist Nikica Gilić: “Classification is extremely important in discussing any art form” (Gilić, 2007: 9).

But fashion film does not belong to a film genre and yet we call it a film. Therefore, in that sense, it belongs to a certain interspace between gender, type (film type) and genre, because it uses all the above categories for its representation. Fashion designer Iris van Herpen uses a fashion documentary film that follows the process of her work, Nick Knight uses experimental film and mixes different media in his work. There are many film achievements in classical film, which are highlighted in this article, and which have combined the field of film and fashion and significantly influenced fashion practice and style. Fashion film belongs to the field of documentary, feature and experimental film (basic film genres) but it should be emphasized that fashion film is still an unfounded film category. As for film genres, as Gilić classified, there are genres of feature, documentary and experimental film (Gilić, 2007), but due to the great influence of film on fashion, fashion film does not belong only to one genre or style. Fashion film appears in different categories, in different genres, it can consist of feature and documentary parts. Therefore, the classification in this paper is somewhat different because it is associated with film and fashion during classic Hollywood films, fashion documentaries and promotional art fashion films.

It is necessary to emphasize the special connection between film and fashion because the films represented a new style and new ideas for a mass audience. The film, like fashion, has changed the concept of reality in a truly radical way, as well as the idea of body and corporeality on screen. The film changed social rules with fashion, setting a new fashion for a new audience. American actress Mae Marsh agreed in 1912 to show off her bare feet, risking scandal, in a paradigmatic cave scene in the film Man’s Genesis directed by D. W. Griffith. As early as 1910, Hollywood began bringing in famous designers and costume

designers to design film costumes. In 1911, French fashion designer Paul Poiret shot his summer collection called The Thousand and Second Night, inspired by oriental harem trousers, and later used it for advertising purposes. Coco Chanel was hired in 1920 to design for the American actress Gloria Swanson, but Swanson despised dark and clean Chanel lines that were not suitable for photography and film. A new generation of designers and costume designers emerged who understood the connection between stars, film and fashion. This group of costume designers includes American costume designer Edith Head, who trained as an assistant to American costume designer Travis Banton – also one of the most famous designers of the 1930s, notable for dressing German – American actress Marlene Dietrich. Edith Head’s success was that she managed to satisfy her stars, dressing them in the then-current American style, taking over from French fashion, and designing wearable fashion. Its special design always reflected the spirit of the times; when Christian Dior introduced New Look in 1947 with his significantly longer skirts, Head refused to specify the length of her dresses in the films she then designed for, waiting for the reactions to such a fashion change to calm down. It wasn’t until the very late 1940s that Head began designing longer dresses. Her New Look release was in 1950 in All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz), in which actress Bette Davis wears a richly lined, bare-shouldered party cocktail dress that later became an iconic dress in the fashion context. The role of the designer and costume designer in the film has changed from the Hollywood dressing system since the 1950s, when American actress Audrey Hepburn asked Hubert de Givenchy, a Parisian couture designer, to design the clothes she would wear in Sabrina. (Billy Wilder, 1954). It was Head who did her studio work on the costumes but the Hepburn – Givenchy relationship created the Hepburn Look, which influenced a wider audience. Classical cinema was closely associated with the concept of haute couture in Europe, especially with French fashion designers and big stars (such as Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Kim Novak), and since the mid – the 1950s, the rise of television, film has experienced a kind of a turning point. Both films starring Audrey Hepburn, Sabrina and Funny Face (Stanley Donen, 1957) have become a place of transformation of this actress with a fashion costume (Bruzzi, 1997: 6).

Although costume designers and designers, such as Hubert de Givenchy, continued to be significant in the world of film, the relationship between fashion and film changed radically under the influence of street fashion. However, thanks to high fashion, costume designers have gained a greater degree of autonomy in film. Fashion and film in the golden age of Hollywood represented a significant link between dressing up on film, character visualization and consumer society. Fashion was presented in the film in other ways; from the 1994 film by Robert Altman Prêt-à-Porter to the 1994 documentary by German director Wim Wenders Notebook on Cities and Clothes, 1989 – the beginnings of Japanese deconstruction that accompanies the creative process the work of fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto. A short film by American director Martin Scorsese Made in Milan, made in 1990, is dedicated to the work of Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani. Films that follow the process of designer work have become the standard in recent years when designer Iris van Herpen re-emphasizes the process of working in contemporary fashion design, even though such short documentaries existed as early as the early 1990s. We can say that the main reason for this return of interest in observing the work process of a fashion designer is the same as Boris Groys, a theorist of avant-garde and contemporary art, claims. Groys noted that it is necessary to document the work of contemporary artists (conceptual, performative and installation artists) and in the process of democratization of art at the end of the 20th-century art seeks to reject any form of creative idealization not only of art but also of the creative process (Groys, 2008: 53-66). In this way, the process of documenting the event of the emergence of something new in culture is connected with what belongs to the enchantment of the mass audience with its fetishized idols. As early as the late 1960s, Spanish fashion designer Christóbal Balenciaga argued that haute couture no longer existed (Mendes; de La Haye, 1999: 24). This can be seen much earlier in the example of the 1957 film Funny Face (Stanley Donen), in which a young Audrey Hepburn appears dressed in black capri pants and a black dolcevita, which was unknown until then in the world of film and rich costume design. A similar example is Kim Novak, who was also dressed in black trousers and a dolcevita in Bell, Book and Candle (Richard Quine, 1958), and who looks like a member of the popular beatnik subculture. Many films became references to fashion change and adhered to the great power of film in shaping fashion styles.

During the 1980s, film and fashion underwent a radical change. High fashion was no longer in films, famous costume designers and designers were working less with directors and there was no more classical film. Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani designed the film American Gigolo (Paul Schrader, 1980), which features a young American actor Richard Gere as a symbol of the affirmation of men’s fashion and freedom in experimenting with colours and fabrics in his paradigmatic scene where the protagonist dresses himself. This film presented the connection between fashion costume and ready-to-wear fashion (Bruzzi, 1997: 7). What has happened to fashion and film in the meantime and why is their relationship important for research in the field of fashion theories, media, and ultimately film itself? Film and fashion have discarded some of their essential features over time. Sometimes fashion on film triggered mass trends such as, for example, cropped T-shirts and leg warmers, which were used in the film Flashdance (Adrian Lyne, 1983) and then launched a mass trend. Some films followed tradition and functioned like a fashion show from the beginning to the end of the film. An example of this is Pretty Woman (Garry Marshall, 1990), which features American actress Julia Roberts as a Cinderella character, but also films such as My Fair Lady, directed by George Cukor in 1964,  and Grease, directed by Randal Kleiser in 1978. The costume of the prostitute played by Julia Roberts (in high and narrow boots, with a top and short miniskirt), of all the costumes shown in the film, became extremely important for the youth of the 1990s.

As in the case of Sabrina, Pretty Woman constructs a similar fairy tale about a young woman who becomes different by changing her appearance, clothing, and thus her economic status (Bruzzi, 1997: 15). Contemporary designers from 7th Avenue have often collaborated in designing costumes for films, however, their style has never prevailed over the existing character. Costume design for American productions was done by American designers Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Ralph Lauren who is best known in the segment for his work on Annie Hall (Woody Allen in 1977), with American actress Diane Keaton. Keaton wore her clothing items with Lauren’s signature and influenced the female audience who, years later, wore clothes in a relaxed and liberating way, like the main character of that film. Since the late 1960s, the female star type has been stratified, which will be discussed in more detail in the next chapter. It is Diane Keaton who retains certain characteristics of the type of a good friend, so that in the 1990s there was an “obvious revitalization of the type (which accompanies the revitalization of romantic comedy)” (Kragić, 2005: 14). However, the connection between fashion and film cannot be seen only in this costume design context, which is, of course, an important element of the film story. What the film offers in terms of fashion is visible only after the 1990s, with the emergence of short artistic semi-documentary fashion films. Thanks to new technologies but also the need to move fashion from the catwalk to the cinematic screen, fashion film has gradually profiled itself as an important element in research in fashion theory. Although authors such as Stella Bruzzi and Pamela Church Gibson have been researching film and fashion for more than thirty years, there are not enough other relevant researchers in this theoretical field. Therefore, this chapter intends to analyze what fashion is in film and how both concepts and areas have influenced each other, starting from the period of classic Hollywood film.

Fashion films can, therefore, be divided as follows:

1. Film and fashion during a classic feature film,

2. Fashion documentary,

3. Advertising art fashion film.

The film no longer serves as a unique experience for the viewer and this process took place precisely under the great influence of television, VHS and DVD, which in particular changed the experience of the film in general. The decentralization of film, and thus the fashion that appeared in films, resulted in a new type of communication. In this context, the British fashion theorist Pamela Church Gibson speaks of ”images spilling over on screens”, thus creating a new way of looking at the fashion body on-screen (Church Gibson, 2012: 11). The new image of the film event now represents a body that is no longer aestheticized and stylized on screen but has been pre-constructed by the media for a new kind of image of fashion film. In fashion film, the body is predetermined by its content and structure and represents an experimental and hybrid body performance. The body appears in fashion film as a process, from the emergence of the garment object on film (but no longer in the context of costume design) to the complete medialization of the body and its performative. The growing emergence of fashion in the context of theory, but also the philosophy of film is an important area that connects theories of fashion, media and performance. Film and fashion have developed a strong connection, from the era of classic Hollywood to today’s art documentaries of fashion. In the next chapter, this article will try to present the area in which we want to indicate what kind of body appears in the film after the 1990s and what is its task in moving images in the context of fashion in the film and what are the new possibilities of body and physical performance. The great influence of female movie stars on fashion was most pronounced in the 1930s to 1940s. Female stars have become style icons for mass audiences. Hollywood golden age costumes emphasized the natural beauty of individual stars but later served as an important reference for fashion designers. Hollywood, in a fashion context, served as a machine for setting fashion norms and what was currently in fashion, but it also paved the way for further consideration of the relationship between film and fashion. The classic Hollywood film was associated with the strong development of the industry and was based on Fordism, the division of labour necessary for mass production. Films of that time displayed a pragmatic spirit and respect for patriarchal norms. The space of the scene in the classic film was constructed according to the line of action or on a line of 180 degrees, which provided a common space from frame to frame. A clear relationship between the characters was established and thus the space was clearly defined so that the viewer always knows where the characters are placed. The mode of the film makes the technique invisible (Peterlić calls the classical style an invisible style, because the author’s or director’s interventions are hidden, or at least are such that they must not distract attention from the main plot). The shots are arranged spatially and temporally linearly so that the actor or actress do not look directly into the camera. Interestingly, this invisibility of style is replaced by other characteristics. In classic Hollywood films, stories are organized by genre patterns which have always served the film industry for the production and marketing of films. Genres, just like film stars, have emerged as a need for product differentiation systems. Each genre had a recognizable array of common features that ran through the story, visual style, characters, mise-en-scène, music, and film stars. Genres consist of specific systems (patterns) for creating certain expectations and assumptions with which viewers see and understand the film. These patterns offer a way to conclude what happens on screen: why certain actions and events take place, why characters look like that, why they speak and behave in a certain way, and all this is of importance in the context of researching fashion and film. The level of what likely varies from genre to genre. Singing is appropriate for a musical, but not exactly for a thriller or war movie. In this sense, genre systems presuppose rules, norms and laws. Given the system of stars (a cinematic phenomenon related to the level of popularity and recognition of stars), which is based on the guarantee that as many viewers as possible will react to the appearance of an actor, the types that form the structure develops. The structure is maintained by the social and psychological interests of the audience in correlation with the industry in a certain period. Therefore, it is important to present the connection between fashion and film in the golden age of Hollywood. From that period we can see the relationship between the concept of the stardom system, the film and the fashion pattern. Fashion and film influenced each other, not only in designing costumes for the cinematic screen but also with the emergence of the notion of fashion costume which then completely turns into a fashion object.

Classic Hollywood film traditionally produces heroes and heroines directed towards their goal, that is, solving problems that, nowadays, are often related to saving the world. The notion of happiness presupposes the realization of a heterosexual love affair, which is the main theme of the film. Classic Hollywood relies on a so-called classic narrative style in which the story moves toward problem-solving. The montage cuts are invisible and do not require the conscious effort of the viewer to follow the action of the film and the viewer is encouraged to identify with the characters. The study of stars is associated with the study of genres in film. A star is a less fluid category and is associated with a particular actor or actress. The types of stars emerge as a link between certain actors, or actresses, and the roles they play, and some we have already listed in the previous chapter as significant to the relationship between fashion and film. The typology of female stars in classic film is very important for fashion since these actresses represented new fashion expressions and served to popularize the then lavish fashion design. The term fashion costume is used here as a link between a costume design solution and a fashion suit. It should be said that costume design is not fashion in its entirety, but film and costume lead to specific fashion clothing elements, and even styles, which are permanently written in the history and theory of fashion. Through the typology of predominantly female stars, the fashion costume was established as an important element in the film, but also in fashion. Using the social typology of stars, the German film historian Enno Patalas, we can state that there are eight basic types of female stars (Patalas, 1963), with whom we will try to connect film and fashion costume. The first type in Patalas’s typology is occupied by a naive woman who is very often “…with long curly (light) hair, heart-shaped lips, big eyes and eyelashes…” (Kragić, 2005: 3). Female characters played by actresses like Mary Pickford, Florence Lawrence and Lillian Gish have been branded as naive girls with no life experience. For example, in the period from the 1910s to the 1920s, the male star appeared as a man of action and deed, but also a hero of western films. In the male context of the 1920s, a Latin lover appears in the form of Rudolf Valentino and Ramon Navarro, and the character of the mundane woman announces the aspiration for liberation from traditional orders. Croatian filmologist Ante Peterlić states that the type of Latin lover is “a person who in the first place is not ‘obliged’ to fight for justice, but to win women’s hearts, according to all the rules of romantic seduction” (Peterlić, 2008: 105). Another type (croatian -Mondenka), on the other hand, is a type who appears after the First World War as a pursuit of women’s emancipation (Kragić, 2005: 9) and remains a long-standing type of star in film. In the mid-1930s, in a male context, a neighbourhood good guy and a type of good friend appear, such as American actress Katherine Hepburn. The type of good friend can draw parallels with the type of virgin or naive; she is good at her actions and not so much dependent on the man. A good friend does not have such a strong personality trait in Patalas’s typology, but it includes a large number of actresses (from Claudette Colbert, Jean Arthur, Rosalind Russell to Ginger Rogers), mostly “paradigmatic for the type of screwball comedy stars of the 1930s” (Kragić, 2005: 13). This type, although not so much expressed in character, betrays “youthful cheerfulness and carefreeness” (Patalas, 1963: 183). In Patalas’s typology, there is also the character of the femme fatale, as “a kind of negative of the virgin whose ideal it is opposed to” (Patalas, 1963: 50). Fatal woman, a very common character in the fashion system, especially with designers Thierry Mugler, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Versace is a dark-haired beauty and seductress whose character can be both positive and negative. The main representatives are Lyda Borelli and Pina Menichelli, while Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake, Lauren Bacall are important for fashion. Fatal Woman, in the history of film and fashion, is an interesting type to explore in this area, as this type continues to evolve into a vamp. In the earlier period, in the 1930s, the vamp type was a woman of magical magnetism who destroys men due to fate.  The man who accompanies the female type of vamps is often a gangster hero, a type associated with the gangster film genre and appearing in the new Hollywood. According to Kragić, the main difference between vamp and femme fatale would be the following:

“In Patalas’ definition, the vamp is mostly associated with imaginary ambiences that emphasize the artificiality of the type, which is also a reaction to the increasingly realistic characters that appear with the arrival of sound film and which is a character diametrically opposed to men (which, by destroying a man, also destroys itself, and as an important distinction to a fatal woman, the vamp mustn’t destroy because of evil, but because of fateful circumstances” (Kragić, 2005: 7).

The film Gone With The Wind, directed by Victor Fleming (1939), starring Vivien Leigh, greatly influenced fashion and style at the time. Costume designer Walter Plunkett designed more than 40 costumes just for Leigh, the most dress changes in cinema history (Butchart, 2016: 74). This film undoubtedly influenced Dior’s collections of the 1950s and his H-line from 1954 and 1955, and the paradigmatic barbecue dress of the character of Scarlet O’Hare became an inexhaustible inspiration of the time. Not coincidentally, the type of fatal woman in fashion history but also later, appears as a reference to films of the mid-1940s. American actress Lauren Bacall embodies a slightly milder version of femme fatal in the 1946 film The Big Sleep, directed by Howard Hawks, starring Humphrey Bogart. Furthermore, the type of fatal woman is more strongly presented on screen by Rita Hayworth in Gilda (Charles Vidor, 1946) and Ava Gardner in The Killers (Robert Siodmak, 1946), but Bacall represented a fashion element that conquered the film world with her distinctive look and appearance (Butchart, 2016: 14). Following this track, fashion designer John Galliano, in 2010, created a homage to film noir and Lauren Bacall, using glittery raincoats and blonde models resembling actresses of the time. A direct reference to the film Marnie (Alfred Hitchcock, 1964) was created by Alexander McQueen for the autumn-winter 2005 collection. Taking the character of American actress Tippi Hedren as inspiration, the collection presented classic costumes on the legacy of Edith Head, who was also the film’s lead costume designer. Hitchcock’s paradigmatic blonde actresses are an inexhaustible inspiration for fashion designers, especially McQueen and Galliano in the 2005 and 2009 collections, in which they refer to the film The Birds (Alfred Hitchcock, 1963).

The early 1940s were also marked by the type of ‘losers’ in male actors (hero-losers with Bogart) and the pin-up girl. Pin-up is a very important type, as it developed during the war and refers to American actresses of prominent beauty such as Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable. Croatian filmologist Ante Peterlić states that pin-ups are attractive actresses who are “challenging, luxurious, lush and racially beautiful” (Peterlić, 1990: 325). In fashion, pin-up appears as a revival of the style of the late 1940s and 1950s, as a reflection of the rebellion against conventional values. Thanks to female stars such as American actresses Elizabeth Taylor, Natalie Wood, Grace Kelly and the mentioned Marilyn Monroe, the female audience embraced waist-length dresses and Capri pants to mix a variety of clothing elements in later fashion history in the 1950s. which are still in fashion today.

There are also transitional types of stars, while some develop into some other types, which can sometimes be unfavourable to the career of a particular actor or actress. These types correspond to the value structure of society at a given historical moment. American actress Elizabeth Taylor is an example of various types of changes in the film,” as a child actress to A Place Under the Sun she is a naive (virgin, according to Patalas), then becomes a good friend, then fashionable (emancipated woman), then femme fatale in Cleopatra” (Peterlić, 2010: 328). The 1963 film Cleopatra by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and the main character Cleopatra inspired Galliano for his collection for the French fashion house Dior Couture spring-summer from 2004, in which the designer refers to Cleopatra, Nephretiti and Tutankhamun with rich decors and gold (Butchart, 2016: 85). McQueen is also interested in the character of Cleopatra in his Egyptian-inspired autumn – winter collection from 2007, in which a specific cut of clothing elements predominates. The fascination with Cleopatra spread to other fashion-related industries, so American photographer Richard Avedon photographed the famous model Suzy Parker for the Revlon fashion campaign, calling it simply ‘Cleopatra Look’ in 1962.

Furthermore, the 1950s were marked by a type of rebel for no reason, characteristic of American actors Marlon Brand, James Dean, Paul Newman and the emergence of the nymph type. The nymph in Patalas’s typology denotes the type of young, spiritually immature girl, predominantly driven by emotions. This type was mostly popularized by the French actress Brigitte Bardot (Kragić, 2005: 16). Bardot appears as a “complete embodiment of a nymph” who “offered herself because she liked it, which confirmed her, unlike pin-up, as a subject” (Patalas, 1963: 255). Brando’s film The Wild One, directed by László Benedek from 1953, influenced many young people at that time who started wearing leather jackets up to the waist, while with the previous film A Street Car Named Desire (Elia Kazan, 1951), a plain white T-shirt became a symbol of rebels (Buxbaum, 2005: 77). In a fashion context, the rebel type for no reason is visible in the 1990 film Cry-Baby, directed by John Waters and starring American actor Johnny Depp and costume designer Van Smith. Depp’s costume is in direct relationship with Brando, Dean and Elvis in Jailhouse Rock (Richard Thorpe, 1957), dressed in a white T-shirt, jeans and a black leather jacket, charming but also fatal for women. Costume designer Waters took advantage of rockabilly revival and the notion of delinquency in the film, while Italian designer Miuccia Prada for the 2015 collection presented female delinquents dressed in vests and leather jackets with scarves around their necks.

The crisis of the star system appeared in the 1960s and the result was the loss of visible characteristic types, so some actors and actresses embodied several types at once and some are even contradictory. As Peterlić states: “In the period from the early 1960s to the mid-1970s, the system of stars seemed to have come to an end, that (along with genres) support for film production planning in market-oriented cinemas, especially American” (Peterlić, 2010: 323). According to Peterlić, the characteristics of the characters are in the strongest connection with the genres. Furthermore, a star system was created in the new Hollywood on the example of American actress Jodie Foster. However there is not just one type of star but in each period there are several different types in which some types are more permanent (as we saw in the example of the innocent bride or man of action), and some more short-lived (like a flapper-girl). Durable types are evolving and thus gaining new characteristics. According to Peterlić, the types differ within one’s sex, in which one is usually dominant and the other secondary, the one that does not predominate but already exists in a certain period (Peterlić, 2010: 324). Properties characteristic of a star of one sex can fluctuate, becoming with time the properties of the other sex. Difficulties work and the so-called. character actors, specializing in complex characters. Character actors may or may not belong to a guy in the system, and often have a different leading role. Peterlić states that, however, specific problems are created by regenerating stars, that is to say, stars that renew themselves, incarnate different characters and change types within the system (Peterlić, 2010: 324). The female star who had a rich career, often changing various roles, already mentioned, was Elizabeth Taylor, who with the role of Cleopatra brought together diverse types within the star system. These dizzying changes enabled her to become, in a fashion context, one of the most significant inspirations for the orientally inspired collections of Galliano and McQueen and she also proved that she is more important than the film itself. Elizabeth Taylor proved herself Cleopatra ”… as a character actress (and even an Oscar winner), earning the most that only Hollywood provides. In the most expensive spectacle, this beauty from the dream factory gets the role of a legendary seductress and although the film proved to be a ‘failure’, she is beyond that failure, she can survive as a film as such, as a power that is hard to shake” (Peterlić, 2010: 327). With her looks, fashion costume and influence on the female audience, the fashion industry changed its impulse. Namely, under the regeneration of the fashion impulse, a kind of revival of styles can be introduced, which appeared in fashion after the 1990s.

Another case of regenerating stars belongs to the American actress Jodie Foster, who had a very similar career as Taylor. Changing types within the new star system, Foster is a “prostitute, gangster girl, mortal, a person who kills herself but who can try something like that – are roles that have largely interpreted the so-called character actresses” (Peterlić, 2010: 331). Both characters in the fashion sense, represent the spirit of the 1970s, freedom and liberation. The character of Travis Bickle (played by Robert de Niro) and Iris (Jodie Foster) in the film Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976), strongly influenced the audience at the time but also the later collections of the Italian fashion house Gucci, French Louis Vuitton and American Marc Jacobs, referring directly to this film.

Today’s Hollywood however, has created stars from other cinemas by reducing them to the level of local stars. It is also interesting to create a fusion of femme fatale, vamp and emancipated women in the roles of American actresses Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, Kathleen Turner and Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Batman Returns (directed by Tim Burton, 1992). The direct connection between the film and the character Selina Kyle (Cat woman) is visible in the work of the recently deceased designer Thierry Mugler and his collection for spring-summer in 1997, and then for studio The Blonds and their collection from 2014. It is important to point out that the star is not only created by films, i.e. roles and interpretations but also by the promotion and publicity of the actor and actress with the great support of the fashion system. As the typology of female stars has changed since the Golden Age of Hollywood, so has the role of predominantly female actresses in fashion. Peterlić also stated this clearly: “It is obvious that pin-up has become a more secondary type, it was supplanted by models, poster girls” (Peterlić, 2010: 342). Therefore models can be a vamp, a good friend or pin-up, and the fashion system allows them to make a big impact on the audience. As Parisian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli has accurately stated, “what Hollywood creates today will be up to you by tomorrow” (Haggard, 1990: 6).

3. Fashion Film-Philosophy and Body Transformation

The philosophy of film and the idea of whether film can be thought of in the context of making a short fashion film and a new body category seem to have little connection. Can we think within a film, or does the film create an opinion imposed on us by its complex mechanisms of action, or is it just an impression that the film leaves upon us? How are new bodily performance elements created in a film and their effect on the notion of the body and is the notion of fashion film emerging – which signifies a new performative of the body and changes the concept of physicality on the screen? The movement that exists in moving images marks a new concept of body performance. Already in the concept of mere media mediation, from the real body to the body on the screen, there is a radical change and understanding of what the body is, or what it was, in the image before the creation of the concept of the body. From Maurice Merleau-Ponty and his consideration of film to Deleuze’s concept of an organless body, the body on screen has undergone many transformations precisely through its performance. If we adhere to the thesis that the film does not think but perceives, the question arises what is perceived in the film? Can we argue that cinema art is phenomenological? Furthermore, what unites the philosophical approaches of film and fashion film? Furthermore, if the film thinks, as French theorist Dominique Chateau argues, what is then the result of that thinking process? (Chateau, 2011: 129). It is, of course, about the notion of the immaterial in film and movement, which always refers to some kind of change and action. It is important to emphasize that this methodology does not apply to all films because as the French theorist Gilles Deleuze has clearly stated, ”thought in the film belongs to good films and great authors” (Deleuze, 1983: 7). But fashion films do not belong to great authors nor do they want to, but their fundamental intention is to archive the process of creating an aesthetic body in motion. As the body moves, it fills the media space and time of the film but also immerses itself in the process of constant bodily transformation. The idea of the film, which deals exclusively with the concept of the body that is aestheticized and media-constructed, is visible in fashion film. The central idea is the body, which now no longer represents a suit or a clothed body.

How then to approach such a complex form of the film when we talk about the media construction of the body on the screen, which is fashionable and experimental? The subject appearing with the body on the screen signifies interaction with the outside world, while the body signifies the interspace of action. The body in film, in this case, is both a fashion and a film body. We cannot speak of the physical exclusively as a concept of the material in the film. The physical character of fashion film is also its purpose. As Merleau-Ponty argues, ”observing the body in motion, one sees better how it inhabits space (and, after all, time), because movement is not satisfied with suffering space and time, it takes them actively, captures them in their original meaning” (Merleau-Ponty, 1978: 116).

Fashion film as a genre in the field of filmology does not exist as we noted earlier, however, in the last 10 years a lot of scientific and research work has been devoted to the field of fashion and media theories. Film and fashion have had an unbreakable connection throughout history because the film does not exist without the influence of clothing and fashion element. The notion of dress in film and fashion in film should not be confused here, because the difference exists primarily between fashion and dress. Fashion is always realized in the context between culture, art and industry, while clothing is associated with a bodily process – which is not necessarily fashionable. Fashion film has profiled itself as a term in the theories of one of the leading authors in this field, Stella Bruzzi, a British-Italian theorist who published the book Undressing Cinema: Clothing and Identity in the Movies: Clothes, Identities, Films in 1997 and became one of the founders of fashion film theory.

Although this type of film was established later due to the predominance of digitalization of the entire visual culture, the film is explored in the context of fashion theories in connection with the construction of identity, but also to emphasize how the fashion element participates in the construction of film image and its body. Fashion, in this context, is not explored as a costume design element that exists in all film images, it already emphasizes how the identity of the character and his/her physicality are built. The costumes in the film represent spectacular interventions on the body (Gaines 1990; Bruzzi 1997; Landis 2012), but this is not enough to explore clothing elements, or how they correspond to and with the body (Monk, 2010). Fashion film is often misinterpreted in this way, as fashion in film or film costume design. It represents a new media body image, while clothing elements support the development of visuality emphasize the spectacular nature of fashion and re-design the concept of body and physicality.

The phenomenon of fashion film appears thanks to the digital image and a new type of culture, although fashion existed in the film as clothing and costume design, and only with the rise of new digital technologies did the term fashion film emerge. Although the history of fashion film begins much earlier than Stella Bruzzi’s very significant book and research, it has profiled itself thanks to a carefully chosen methodological framework between fashion, film (media) and performance. Intermediality is a key concept in understanding fashion film because it is linked to these three significant research areas. Thanks to film as a medium, fashion was allowed to present itself visually, as a highly aesthetic image in motion and the bodily modes of presentation were completely adapted to the medium of the film. This type of film – fashion film, does not adhere to fashion photography or fashion advertising, but unites the two areas and is, therefore, an important area of research in fashion theories, image theories, as well as in researching a new type of corporality. As a medium and as an art, film is at the same time material, that is to say, corporeal but also virtual – it is a material spirit (Perez, 1998).

The emphasis in the fashion image is always based on the depiction of the body and its possibilities while dressing on film represents a kind of tactile transmediality. Fashion film, above all, has the task of redefining, redesigning and reconstructing the concept of the body on film. New performance practices

that appear in the film are visible in films from the early 1990s. For example the film Terminator 2 – Judgment Day,  (James Cameron, 1991), we see visible changes in the body of the Terminator and its ability to continually transform. This transformation, however, did not only apply to the bodily changes of the Terminator T-1000 but also to voice identities (Codeluppi, 2016: 119). Since the beginning of the 1990s, the film has been paying increasing attention to the possibilities of technological transformations of the physical identity of the characters. Such a body, which has been redesigned for the image, emerges as a new possibility of bodily transformation in the film image. The body of the Terminator, of course, was preceded by the 1927 film by Austrian director Fritz Lang Metropolis with the image of Mary. However, she does not have the possibility of a complete bodily transformation and merging into other objects. What has made fashion film extremely important in the transformation of not only the genre, but also the media logic of the film, are the new possibilities of changing the body as such, but also the ways of performing the body on the screen? Before making a fashion film, short films appear that follow the process of making a garment and the concept of performing a fashion event. The constant change of body on the screen can be clearly defined by the notion of a liquid body (Codeluppi, 2016) but also a metastatic body (Baudrillard, 1988: 47). The metastatic body can change indefinitely and is constantly in bodily transitions. This is possible in a media-constructed film image, as the body in fashion emerges as the only possibility of translating into a liquid, changeable body without a clear identity. Digital processing, in which characters can be physically changed independently of the clothing element, developed in an era of the growing influence of new technology and its influence on the construction of the character in the film. A good example of this process is the latest film by American director Martin Scorsese The Irishman from 2019, in which the faces of the main protagonists (Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci) are visibly, almost unnaturally, rejuvenated by technology. How much de-ageing technology has helped to bring body art and its aspects closer to the real course of time and how much it represents a new area within film theory is still an under-explored area within filmology, however, technology is certainly important for the concept of body modifications on the screen. The ageing process of the body can now be accelerated or slowed down, and it marks the character of fashion film – the fusion of body and clothing element as one of the main markers in the film image, no longer as costumes or decor, but as conditions for transforming the body and its identity. The body on film has become the interest of film practice “by increasing the visibility of the body and corporeality in postmodern theory and media practice” (Šakić, 2017: 200). Theoretical concepts of the fluid and metastatic body are now being visualized in film, and no longer just in the form of photography or advertising. Therefore, a clear connection between fashion and film appears here, as new possibilities of decorating the visual aspects of the characters, transmedial tactility of the body and new body connected to the costume. This link is made by film and separates the body from the outside world, while, paradoxically, it draws it into the pro-cinematic. Such a body is seen on film and it levitates between what exists as a body and what is filmed as a body in the film. When we talk about the body in the film and the body in the film “that film can be a thematic determinant, content, but not form” (Šakić, 2017: 200). What happens to the body is a technological transformation, in which the ability to distinguish what is authentic is lost. The character of such a doubled body has the task of presenting it as a medialized aesthetic object, which is the central idea of a fashion film. In this way, as in the field of performing arts, the film fashion body experiences a conceptual reversal: from the body on the film shown as part of the story, to the body that is a condition for the existence of fashion film. The body is understood as the possibility of transformation in the event into a multitude of characters (Paić, 2013: 6), as an anthropological, but also a performative fact. What, then, is to be achieved with the emergence of fashion film and is it even needed as a new film-media category? What does this type of film mean for the field of film-philosophy now?  Fashion film emphasizes that the body operates in the now artificially created space because fashion is the only and possible no longer as a material thing, but as an immaterial virtual performance in the film. With the advent of photography and film, technology enters the process of mediation and radically changes the subject-body-image relationship. Film changes the meaning of life and shapes the body in new media, but also radically changes the concept of film language and image. The notion of body and corporeality in fashion film is characterized by bodily change as a result of various technological processes. What is a fundamental feature of fashion film is made possible precisely technological, and that is the notion of a new performance of the body, as well as the creation of a new philosophical notion of the body? The term new performance means the following: a new meaning of the body, which by its performance marks the body as an aesthetic and fashion object. Namely, fashion film, if it is established as stable and autonomous, wants to represent the aestheticized body that emerges as a necessary process of a film image. It is important to emphasize that this does not apply to all genres within the field of cinema studies because otherwise, we are talking about fashion that exists in every film. Equally, one cannot speak of the philosophy of film for every film, but as Deleuze asserts good films and great authors (Deleuze, 1983: 7). The film, above all, proves the disappearance of the traditional notion of painting, although this is already evident in the photographic image. There is a change in the relationship, not only of the image but also of the language itself in which the linguistic level of the image changes its meaning and real meaning. But the question also arises as to the real meaning of this type of film? Is there still language behind such images and can it be semiotically dissected, or is it something else entirely? The photographic image was crucial for understanding technical, and later digital images, but it is primarily related to the linear nature of text because technical images take over functions related to linear texts.

Fashion images in the film want to emphasize a new kind of body representation, as well as a film medium that changes perception and points to of transformation of the body, rather than the linear of the text behind the image. Gilles Deleuze especially emphasizes the film movement, which always points to “change, migration, changing ages”. This is no less true of bodies: the fall of one body presupposes another that attracts it and expresses a change in the whole that encompasses them both” (Deleuze, 2010: 16). The existence of movement in the film is crucial for the performance of a fashion film and its body. Thanks to movement, we come to the whole image, because movement decides what the whole image will be like (Deleuze, 2012: 20). In the context of fashion film, which is still an under-explored area, preference is given to the mobility of the fashion body. This type of movement is visible in the fashion art advertising films of designer Iris van Herpen, who noticed that fashion without film can no longer represent the fashion process. The fashion process includes not only the creation of a garment object but also the way it is performed through the film. Short art fashion documentaries date back to Wim Wenders’s dedication to Yamamoto and Japan (although they would go to fashion documentaries and less to promotional art films), and van Herpen popularized them and presented the hidden work process of a fashion designer. The difference between documentaries and short feature films is in the process of making a film. The former often follows the work of one designer, such as L’Amour Fou, director Pierre Thoretton on the work and life of Yves Saint-Laurent in 2010. The latter intends to advertise through the artistic process. A wave of films exploring the lives of famous designers, such as Coco Chanel and Yves Saint-Laurent, who have risen to the status of myths or icons in the promotion of culture and art, points to the importance of fashion or heritage history until a renewed critical interest in biographical film as a transnational film genre (Rees-Roberts, 2018: 136). In contrast, the film Dries (Reiner Holzemer, 2017) is an intimate portrait of Belgian designer Dries Van Noten that emphasizes the design practice of this fashion designer as well as the production process and the way of stylizing his collections. The film is a combination of professional and intimate and gives an insight into both lives of Van Noten, filming him at work and in private life.

Fashion films are viewed as an experimental marketing tool of fashion houses that use storytelling and film aesthetics to promote brands and establish close and more intimate relationships with consumers. This is evident in almost all fashion commercials of major fashion houses, such as Chanel. The emphasis in fashion films is primarily on the experimental way of advertising, because as in the case of the advertising image, it is the intention of the image, in this case, the image for consumption. But fashion film also has the task of experimenting, collaging and creating a new look at the fashion body. The transformation of the body into a fashion body takes place in a fashion film – which should seduce the viewer and draw him/her into the atmosphere of fashion. Certainly, fashion photography cannot do that, because it is not a moving image and there are fewer technological possibilities. Fashion art advertising film has also profiled itself as a kind of an online digital platform. As early as 2010, many fashion houses started using film as a kind of advertising and artistic platform. Since 2015, the Italian fashion house Gucci has been presenting innovative advertising fashion campaigns in the form of moving images. But fashion houses aren’t the only ones to have started making a film for their consumers; in the 3-minute short film L’Odyssée from 2012, director Bruno Aveillan shoots for the French Cartier, representing the luxury of a Parisian jewellery manufacturer. Despite the film’s short running time, Cartier tried to portray a new era through a media film spectacle, referring to the golden age of Hollywood. This type of fashion film was also adopted by the French fashion house Chanel for its fragrances Coco (1991) and Egoist (Égoïste, 1990). In the first, the young French actress Vanessa Paradis appears as a fragile bird trapped in a cage, while in the second there is a direct reference to actresses like Ave Gardner or Lauren Bacall, in which the models manically shout Egoist! in the fight for their women’s rights. In the fashion context, Iris van Herpen is making a breakthrough in fashion film, which is a documentary process film, such as the 2018 Ludi Naturae process film, which closely follows the making of her 3-D models, but now with an artistic overtone. Although it is a film that simply follows the process of making each element, van Herpen noticed the importance of such promotions of her virtuosic work. Collaborating with a variety of artists, technologists and architects, van Herpen has placed herself at the top of contemporary fashion performance practice. No matter what kind of fashion film it is, its task is very precise: to make contact with the viewer as only a film can, seduce it with the production process and finally popularize the fashion product so that the viewer identifies with characters or feelings.

The relationship between fashion and film after the 1990s went a step further than classic costume design and fashion costume. Therefore, the question arises: did fashion film deserve its place only in theories of fashion or also in cinema studies? Although fashion film, as we can see, did not become a genre or establish itself as a separate film within a multitude of films, it is certainly one thing – fashion film has changed the relationship in the fashion system itself. Photography, although an important element of contemporary fashion practice, is still being replaced by fashion film because only film can represent the fashion body in motion and process.

4. Conclusion – Body Transmediality and the ‘Event’

Contemporary fashion and its hybrid, eclectic form represent a new way of understanding the body and the fashion object. Many studies in fashion theories have neglected the fashion process and the creation of a fashion object. The visual and tactile aspects of fashion certainly should not be neglected in this area, otherwise, fashion cannot be fully decoded. Fashion is, without a doubt, associated with the body (not just as dress) and creates new categories when it comes to the notion of corporeality. It is, therefore, necessary to list the most important authors who have significantly contributed to the understanding of this concept so that we can come up with formulations of fashion as an event. As Paić states: “Corporeality in the aesthetic sense and corporeality in the sense of the material substance of an object from the living environment (flesh) are two necessary preconditions for noticing what makes the body an essential substance – the subject of visuality in perception” (Paić, 2009: 234). The German philosopher Edmund Husserl laid the foundations of phenomenology but did not deal with the return of the body. The body is no longer a mere observer, but rather a kind of intermediary through which we enter the world. But the phenomenology of perception of the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1945) provided a methodological framework for researching the philosophy of the body. Although Merleau-Ponty did not deal with fashion, his understanding of the body and corporeal turn is very important for understanding contemporary fashion design and the creation of a fashion object. Merleau-Ponty departs from Husserl’s understanding by pointing out that “physical experience forces us to consider that there are acts of thought that are not the result of universal consciousness alone” (Ruthrof,2000: 11). The body is always set in a world woven of other subjects and objects; it changed radically in the 1990s in the context of a body with a suit, thus creating a fashion object. As Paić states, “the body is not a mere object of perception of consciousness from the position of the transcendental self. It is in its physiological state the substance to which the gaze is directed” (Paić, 2009: 235). Baudrillard understands the end of the body in the context of dismembered organs (Baudrillard, 1995: 68), but Paić adds and corrects that ”the body is dismembered because it is a fragmented whole” (Paić, 2009: 220). The body can no longer be understood as a function, or structure, of the human in a pre-set world, but more as an autonomous event in contemporary fashion design. Fashion refers to just the visual construction of the body of today’s society. The body of contemporary fashion in new media is gaining new bodily experiences and new bodily opportunities. Through this process, fashion constantly shapes its fluid identity. The impossibility of finding the identity of the body is a consequence of the simulation of the media and fashion has been articulated as a new kind of bodily event and experience. The consequence of the interaction of the body with the medium is the body which, due to the disintegration of the whole, as Paić observed, continues to decompose in the event of fashion. American theorist Donna Haraway introduced the concept of cyborg in the early 1980s and described it as “a creature of the post-sexual world” while “skin is the traditional border between bodies and the border of internal and external, and that border is threatened by communications and biotechnology” (Haraway, 1990: 190-233). The issue of dematerialization and the disappearance of the body is important when we talk about contemporary fashion design because we have paradigmatic examples in which the body is almost non-existent, it exists only as a reminder that the body dresses, but the dress itself does not define the body. The American philosopher Judith Butler in her book Bodies That Matter: On Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’ (1993) writes about the discursive boundaries of “sex”, and emphasizes the re-definition of the notion of the materiality of the body by its sex and behaviour. For Butler, sex is obtained by action. Gender is, therefore, an ”artificial product and if true sex is a fantasy that is established and inscribed on the surface of the body, then it seems that sex can be neither true nor false. The only the truth produced by the effects of the discourse on primary and stable identity” (Butler, 1990:136). In the context of marking the boundaries between internal and external, the Australian philosopher Elizabeth Grosz states, however, that bodily “boundaries, edges and contours are osmotic – they have great power to include and exclude external and internal in constant exchange” (Grosz, 1994: 79 ). For Martin Heidegger, “the body is in the view of the battle as an event structured within the existential set Dasein or our existence” (Paić, 2009: 233). It sounds almost unbelievable, but in a way Heidegger’s work Being and Time (Sein und Zeit, 1927) contributed significantly to the reflection on the body. The reason is to be seen in the fact that its place (topos) is marked by the existential structure of being-in-the-world. The fragmentation of the whole, and thus of the body adds value to contemporary fashion because it always exists thanks to new media. Its constant presence and the constant replacement of the new brings the body to the new media environment. Thanks to the automatization of perception and reality, according to the French theorist Paul Virilio, new media now rule the human body, especially in the field of performance art (Virilio, 1999: 69). As Nancy states about her reflections on the body: “Bodies are not a kind of fullness, or filled space: they are open space, in a way, space more spacious than space, which could also be called a place: a place of existence” (Nancy, 2008: 17). That space in which fashion the body realizes in a fashion object becomes a meeting place of diverse physical, fashion and artistic techniques. Paić points out:

”When we say ‘body’ (body, Körper, corpus) we mean something that is framed and closed, which is also limited by its surface as an object. Each body is located in a specific space. It can even be argued that space for the body is what it is time to be an inescapable possibility, a reality and a necessity of existence” (Paić, 2019: 46).

Susan Sontag looks at the idea of the body through the concept of pain and states: “Health is the silence of organs, and disease is their rebellion” (Sontag, 1985: 47), while Sigmund Freud believes that much of the somatic pain expressed in dreams is a manifestation of hindered desire burdened with suffering (Starobinski, 1989). French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist Jacques Lacan in his lectures The Mirror Stage as Formative of the I Function (1949) states that dismembered bodies appear in dreams “in the form of dismembered limbs and those organs presented in exoscopy, which are winged and weapons of internal persecution” (Lacan, 1977: 10). Bulgarian philosopher, psychoanalyst and linguist, Julia Kristeva uses the term le corps which denotes the body as pure and controlled (Kristeva, 1989: 9-10).

Merleau-Ponty and his phenomenology enabled the research of embodied experience and emphasized that the mind is located in the body and how with the help of our body schemes we get to know the world. As Merleau-Ponty states: “I consider my body, which is my point of view from the world, one of the objects of the world” (Merleau-Ponty, 1978: 86). The body for Merleau-Ponty exists in relation to spatiality as an object. His phenomenology has also provided us with theoretical tools by which fashion cannot be understood as an aesthetic or symbolic, form, but more as an experience of the body. As Paić states in the context of thinking about the body and the consciousness of the world: “With the help of the body, man is aware of the world. It is this realization that is the reason for human irrationality. Thus, existence becomes a condemnation to freedom and meaning” (Paić, 2019: 28). The central thought of Merleau-Ponty’s work is the awareness of the body as an active receptor of the external world and as a kind of medium within which we exist in the world. In this context, fashion is understood as a new category that takes the experience of the body as a paradigm. We operate in the world, as stated by Merleau-Ponty (Merleau-Ponty, 1962: vii- xxi, 73-89), but not only based on the construction of the mind. In addition, contemporary fashion after the 1990s deals with the experience of the body, especially when it comes to the relationship between fashion and architecture and the concept of Refuge Wear Studio Orta. In the work of the American fashion designer Rick Owens, there is a connection between the body and the suit as an important element of creating a fashion object that does not necessarily have a form, it can be without form, without cut and silhouette (Geczy, Karaminas, 2017: 123). Owens skillfully uses a minimalist approach to the suit to emphasize refined form and monochrome, so his collections are often futuristic. Following in the footsteps of Chalayan, Owens also explores corporeality, installation and architecture in contemporary fashion. In his collections, heavy materials are often used in combination with feathers, silk and cotton to depict the body as a sculpture. He draws inspiration from cubism, futurism, constructivism and suprematism in body shaping. Each object exists separately in the world, playing with gender/sex categories. According to Australian theorist Adam Geczy and Australian fashion theorist Vicki Karaminas, ”suits serve to complement the body” (Geczy, Karaminas, 2017: 137). However, in this process of replenishment, an event takes place between the body, the dress and the spatio-temporal elements of the world. No, fashion is no longer worn, it is not watched or merely represented. Its presence and eventfulness enchant us in a spectacular bodily manner.

Various experimental operations of contemporary fashion are indispensable for researching a new fashion body. Body and corporeality radically change their meaning and significance within fashion theories through fashion photography and film. Therefore, this paper aimed to open a new field of research for fashion theories, filmology and cinema studies. The impact of the film process on the fashion body is very significant for this area because it is clearly shown how fashion film is a kind of virtual performance of the body. The process that the body experiences within that medium leaves various positive and negative bodily consequences and modifications. It is therefore not unusual that the notions of trauma, anxiety, narcissism will be the triad and will give the new referential framework of contemporary fashion, not just as an aesthetic experience of the subject’s search for his problematic identity.

Research in fashion theory is important for performance studies because it represents a kind of intersection of diverse art and physical practices. Concepts such as body, gender, as well as the identity, are important for fashion and performance theories, as they explore new possibilities of body and corporeality in a fashion event. Contemporary fashion pushes boundaries in terms of performance as it transitions from the traditional way of performing to contemporary, body-fashion performance. Performance has therefore become a place where different forms of art overlap, however, in contemporary fashion the case is more complex because it is not exclusively an art form. The closeness of the dress and the body is at the heart of many fashion theories, but without the context of the performing arts as well as new media theories, it can no longer be explored. The reason should certainly be seen in the fact that we encounter a dynamic concept of the fashion body that cannot be defined “existentialistically” as a given gender/sex-specific body, “white” or “black”, extravagant or conservative, but as body-in-becoming, one that takes on new meanings only in interaction with the Other, as evidenced by Jean-Paul Gaultier’s fashion performances.

Contemporary fashion marks the final synthesis of visuality and eventfulness. Everything we see happens simultaneously in virtual actualization and it defines reality as the visual construction of fashion. Therefore, the fashion we watch does not necessarily have to be the fashion we wear, but it will certainly be the fashion we passionately want to watch if we are not already given to decorate our own body with it. The most significant achievements of contemporary fashion designers such as McQueen, Gallian, Chalayan, Owens and van Herpen, constantly remind us that the magic and power of fashion is realized in the spectacular performance of the body in the event. From fashion, in the end, remains a catalogue of fascinating images, a pure visualization of life as an aesthetic pleasure.


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Author Profile
Petra Krpan
Petra Krpan works as an assistant in the Department for Fashion Design, Faculty of Textile Technology, University of Zagreb. She completed her education at the Faculty of Textile Technology, University of Zagreb, obtaining a BA in Fashion Design and an MA in Fashion Theory. Her PhD thesis title was “Contemporary Fashion as an Event: The New Media and Body Transformations.” She is the co-founder of the Fashion, Costume and Visual Cultures (FCVC) Network. She recently published Contemporary Croatian Fashion Photography from the 1990s to the 2020s (Croatian Association of Applied Artists Zagreb, 2022), and she is an editorial board member of Critical Studies in Fashion and Beauty.