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Caroline Evans: The Body, the Dissolve, and the Closeup in 1920s French Fashion Film

Date and Time: 
Friday, May 21, 2021. 12:00 PM
Meeting Location: 
Zoom
Workshop: 
Reframing Fashion Studies: Performance, Gender, and the Body 2020
Meeting Description: 

This paper offers a close reading of a couple of Pathé newsreel fashion films from 1925, focusing on how they used the dissolve to transition from a long shot to a closeup, rather than to show the passage of time or a change of scene. As a fashion historian, Evans approaches the dissolve in three ways. Firstly as a visual technology that has a particular affinity with fashion’s ephemerality and its capacity for magic tricks: as a cinema of attractions. Secondly, in relation to the technology of the body and gender, as a form of corporeal cinema, drawing on contemporary French ideas about photogénie in impressionist cinema. And thirdly in relation to time, immediacy, and technics, as they played out in 1920s fashion and film. All three approaches afford a way to connect different (perhaps disparate) technologies: of film, gender, the body, and time.

Caroline Evans is a fashion historian and professor emerita at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London). Her books include Women and Fashion (1989), Fashion at the Edge (2003), The Mechanical Smile (2013), and Time in Fashion (2020). She has lectured internationally and has served as a museum consultant on several fashion exhibitions, including at the V&A London, Museum of London, MoMu Antwerp, and the Musée de la Mode in Paris. She is currently working on three different research topics: the idea of ‘fashion gesture’; historical fashion film; and pattern-cutting in 20th century design.

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