Fashion and the Moving Image: Exploring the Intersections between Film and Fashion Studies
The growing significance of Fashion Studies as a scholarly field is reflected in the establishment of multi-level programs in several universities around the globe. The interdisciplinary approach taken by these programs encourages perspectives and approaches from a wide variety of disciplines to inform research in Fashion Studies and this symposium aims at spotlighting one of the key perspectives, looking at the intersections between the fashion and film industries that together offer a vast potential for research.
The main intention is to bring together students, junior and senior scholars sharing similar interdisciplinary interests in order to bridge knowledge and networks. The event will provide a forum for participants to engage in scholarly discussions regarding the past, present and future of research in these combined areas, as well as the opportunity to exchange critical views regarding teaching, researching, publishing, and studying fashion as film and media scholars.
On November 6, 2015, the Centre for Fashion Studies, Stockholm University, arranged an open, international symposium on the intersections of Fashion and Film Studies. The symposium was entitled "Exploring the Intersections of Fashion and Film Studies" and the event took place at the Film house, in Bio Mauritz. It gathered a large audience consisting of students, researchers and practitioners coming from both the fashion and film industries, most of whom were local or Swedish, yet, there were also attendants in the audience who came from abroad.
Main organizer of the event was Associate Professor Louise Wallenberg (Centre for Fashion Studies at IMS, Stockholm University) and co-organizers were PhD candidates Elizabeth Castaldo Lundén, Chiara Faggella and Natalie Snoyman (all of whom are students at the Centre for Fashion Studies at IMS). Due to not receiving the amount of funding that was applied for initially, the event had to be slightly shortened: it would run over one day instead of two. Initially the plan was to have it take place on November 5 and 6 and to have four sessions, and in the end the event took place on one day with three longer sessions and a final film screening taking place in the evening.
The symposium brought together internationally prominent fashion and film scholars together with practitioners to discuss matters of common interest in relation to Film and Fashion/Costume Studies. The aim of the symposium was to bring scholars from both fields together to discuss the the theoretical and methodological connections between the two fields as well as to discuss their differences, but also, to open up for a discussion between theorists and practitioners - in short, to provide a platform for discussing the need for a more interdisciplinary approach to the study of Fashion, Costume, and Film. An additional aim was to bring junior and senior faculty together to engage in a discussion about the formation of the two academic fields.
The invited speakers came from different backgrounds, yet all shared a dedicated interest in researching the intersections between fashion and film, and the symposium allowed them to discuss the complex manner in which the two areas of study overlap and intertwine. In this way, the event provided a forum for participants to engage in scholarly discussions regarding the past, present and future of research in these combined areas, and it offered them an opportunity to participate in an exchange of critical views regarding teaching, researching, curating and publishing.
Broadly, each presenter/participant was invited to reflect on the following three issues, or topics:
1. The benefits and challenges of teaching, researching and publishing in an interdisciplinary field.
2. The different approaches to the study of costume design, fashion, and film, including an exploration of methodologies, theories, history, and practice.
3. The relevance of fashion and film research beyond the boundaries of these two disciplines, i.e., its contributions to women's studies, cultural studies, celebrity studies, archival studies, etc.
The symposium was divided into three different sessions, with one session, "Bridging the Fields: from Teaching to Publishing in Fashion and Film" (moderated by Associate Professor Marina Dahlquist, IMS, Stockholm University) taking place in the morning, and the two latter ones, "The Missing Link: Researching Costume Design" (moderated by Nathalie Morris, Senior Curator at the BFI National Archives) and "Style, Glamour and Celebrity: Research in Fashion, Film and Beyond" (moderated by Associate Professor Alessandra Vaccari, IUAV, Venice, Italy), taking place in the afternoon. The symposium was opened by Professor Bengt Novén, Dean of the Humanities at Stockholm University, who welcomed everyone. Each session contained between three to four presentations, and each was followed by a Q&A-session during which the audience was invited to comment and/or ask questions. The first session contained presentations by Dr Anne Bachmann (IMS, Stockholm University); Associate Professor Louise Wallenberg (IMS, Stockholm University); Professor Stella Bruzzi (Department of Film and Television Studies, University of Warwick, UK); and Anne Coco and Jenny Romero (the Margret Herrick Library, AMPAS, USA). The second session contained presentations by Dr Drake Stutesman (Department of Cinema Studies, New York University, USA); Associate Professor Tamar Jeffers McDonald (School of Arts, University of Kent, UK); Professor Ian Christie (Department of Film, Media & Cultural Studies, Birkbeck, University of London, UK); and Professor and Costume Designer Deborah Landis Nadoolman (School of Theatre, Film & Television, UCLA, USA). The third session contained presentations by Professor Eugenia Paulicelli (Department of Comparative Literature, the Graduate Centre, CUNY, New York, USA); Associate Professor Pamela Church Gibson (London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, UK); and Professor Jan Olsson (IMS, Stockholm University). Each session was followed by a Q&A, inviting both the audience and the other presenters to partake in the discussion. The day was later concluded with a talk by Professor Jan Olsson (IMS, Stockholm University) in relation to a screening of Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 film North by Northwest. The talk and the following screening was open to the public and was well attended.
The day was filmed by a film production company and all of the presentations are now gathered on a DVD. In addition, each presenter was interview individually after the three sessions, and these interviews are also contained on the DVD. This DVD material is to be used for teaching purposes.
During the day, about 100 people were in the audience, and after each of the three sessions, there were lively discussions between the audience and the presenters, as well as between presenters. In addition, the two dinners (one welcome dinner on November 5, and one concluding dinner on November 6), as well as the lunch and the small reception on November 6, gave all participants the possibility to engage in discussions, and there is no doubt that the event made possible a more open and engaged relation and dialogue between fashion and film scholars and practitioners regarding research, education and production. All of the presenters expressed their satisfaction and joy over having partaken in the event as it drew towards its end, in the late evening of November 6, a mutual wish to meet again under similar circumstances to continue the discussions was expressed, and one of the British participants agreed to try and arrange a follow-up symposium on film and costume at her home University in 2017.