From Audrey Hepburn in Givenchy, to sharp-suited gangsters in Tarantino movies, clothing is central to film. In Undressing Cinema, Stella Bruzzi explores how far from being mere accessories, clothes are key elements in the construction of cinematic identities, and she proposes new and dynamic links between cinema, fashion and costume history, gender, queer theory and psychoanalysis.
Bruzzi uses case studies drawn from contemporary popular cinema to reassess established ideas about costume and fashion in cinema, and to challenge conventional interpretations of how masculinity and femininity are constructed through clothing. Her wide-ranging study encompasses:
* haute couture in film and the rise of the movie fashion designer, from Givenchy to Gaultier
* the eroticism of period costume in films such as The Piano and The Age of Innocence
* clothing the modern femme fatale in Single White Female, Disclosure and The Last Seduction
* generic male chic in Goodfellas, Reservoir Dogs, and Leon
* pride, costume and masculinity in `Blaxploitation' films, Boyz `N The Hood and New Jack City
* drag and gender confusion in cinema, from the unerotic cross-dressing of Mrs Doubtfire to the eroticised ambiguity of Orlando.
Bruzzi challenges a number of truisms about the function of fashion in cinema; she argues convincingly that fashion cannot be described or analysed as a mere prop for narrative. This book does nothing less than encourage the reader to think and re-think the last several decades of film theory concerning what films mean and how they appeal to spectators. Bruzzi brings a wealth of knowledge about both fashion and film to her discussions, and the result is both entertaining and enlightening'. - Judith Mayne, Professor of French & Women's studies, Ohio State University