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Archeology of Fashion Film

Image courtesy of UAL

Research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Project duration: 1 September 2017 - 31 August 2019
Funded by: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

In September 2017, Central Saint Martins/University of the Arts London teamed up with Winchester School of Art/University of Southampton on a 2 year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Entitled Archaeology of Fashion Film, the project ran between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2019 and was led by fashion historian and theorist Caroline Evans as Principal Investigator, media scholar Jussi Parikka and art historian Marketa Uhlirova as Co-investigators, and fashion historian Lucy Moyse Ferreira as Post-doctoral Research Assistant.

Project summary

In an era witnessing a rapid proliferation of the digital moving image across commerce and culture, this research project was the first to investigate the hidden history of fashion film, going back to the beginnings of cinema. It asked what legacy this new history may have for the rapidly changing field of fashion communications today.

Emphasising the transformative effects of film on fashion, the project forges a new understanding of film as a 'fashion medium' and as a 'fashion object'. It set out make a major contribution to scholarly studies of the history of fashion, of film, and of fashion film, and will change how contemporary fashion filmmakers and other media practitioners understand the history of their discipline and the media cultural context for their own creative and commercial work.

Positing fashion film as a unique hybrid of 2 industries with distinct practices, resources, and motivations, the project’s interdisciplinary approach provided a new historical and theoretical framework for understanding this important and increasingly popular phenomenon. To that end, the project brought together scholars with combined expertise in film history, fashion history and media studies, and practitioners involved in various aspects of contemporary fashion film production.

Project investigators

Caroline Evans is Professor of Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. She has published widely on historical as well as contemporary fashion, and her recent publications include Fashion at the Edge and The Mechanical Smile: Modernism and the First Fashion Shows in France and America, 1900-1929 (Yale University Press, 2013) and ‘Materiality, Memory and History: Adventures in the Archive’ in: Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! (Rizzoli International Publications, 2013).

Jussi Parikka is a media theorist and Professor in Technological Culture & Aesthetics at Winchester School of Art (University of Southampton). He is also co-founder of The Archaeologies of Media and Technology (AMT) research group at WSA. His recent books include A Geology of Media (University of Minnesota Press, 2015) and What is Media Archaeology? (Polity, 2012).

Marketa Uhlirova is an art historian and curator currently specialising in the intersections between fashion and film. She is senior research fellow in Fashion History and Theory at Central Saint Martins as well as Director and Curator of Fashion in Film. Her publications include Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle (as editor, Koenig books, 2013) and ‘100 years of Fashion Film: Frameworks and Histories’, in: Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture, 17 (2), 2013.

Lucy Moyse Ferreira received her BA in the History of Art from the University of Cambridge, followed by her MA in Fashion History at The Courtauld Institute of Art, where she went on to complete her PhD on violence in fashion during the interwar years. She has taught at and written for a range of institutions, and is a regular event speaker and contributor to media projects. Recently, this has included a documentary based upon her thesis, and the co-edited volume, Cosmetic, Aesthetic, Prophetic: Beyond the Boundaries of Beauty (Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press, 2016).