Jan 12, 2018 in Research

Fashion in Movies

Fashions play a fundamental role in visualizing sociological and psychological transformations in movies. The fashions used in a movie portray both the main characters sociological and psychological changes and their identity forming process. Costumes in movies represent an incomparable means of expression hence with fashions sociological and psychological transformations in movies are apparent.

Movies serve the functions of recording historic events and predicting the future lives of people. As the economy of the world changes, and information exchange and transformation flourish, so does people’s cultural needs. Consequently, people’s expectations are that movies will be more creative, individualized and varied. According to Choi, Ko & Megehee (2012) the role of movie costumes, therefore, takes greater importance in the experiences of the audience and the interpretation of the movie. It is important to note that outfits and costumes influence the attitudes, perceptions, interpretations and behavioral intentions of the audience. In addition, the costumes can be used in determining the time in which the movie is supposed to represent.

Movie costumes in the broadest sense focus on the meticulous craft of the designer and serve as integral to a given film’s meanings. More importantly costume designs for both men and women demonstrate the centrality of painstaking costume design in constructing the meaning of a movie (Choi, Ko & Megehee, 2012). It is important to note that viewers recognize movie genres by means of costumes. Fashions in movies touch on the implications of this understanding by focusing on some familiar and enduring genres.

Clothes or costumes worn in movie offer a illustration language giving the movies symbolism to the spectators that not only helps the story’s flow by intensifying the movies psychological and symbolic effects but also influences customer behavior (Choi, Ko & Megehee, 2012). As spectators in a movie identify with the character costumes give positive meanings about the character. This is achieved when the audience essentially obtains a sense of satisfaction by accepting and internalizing the costumes seen in the movie. An individual may create or take part in new fashion trend by espousing the costumes seen in the movie. This implies that movie spectators control the fashion industry. People now consider movie costumes to be valuable form of art, the creation of which provides a glimpse of a nation’s society.  

Choi, Ko & Megehee (2012) argue that costume is an object, a literal building that the actor in a movie wears or inhibits in order to perform. Many characters feel that they understand their character once they have worn the costume. They assist the actors in performing their roles with ease and sometimes the costumes assist in determining the specific roles an actor is supposed to perform. In addition, the costume colors are important in communicating symbolically to the audience the social features or rules of the movie (Choi, Ko & Megehee, 2012). Like clothing, costumes worn by actors in a movie play a crucial role in revealing the social status. Costumes reveal the actor’s personality and his or her situational status besides expressing the character’s roles against the surrounding environment in the setting of the movie.

In movies costumes designers have to tell a story. They achieve this through tools such as color nuances, design lines and fabric textures. Costumes also create an emotional feel in the movie through minute details such as moving a shoulder seam further from or closer to the neck (Choi, Ko & Megehee, 2012). 

Visual narrative art is another form of fashion that greatly influences the physical and psychological transformation in movies. Visual narrative arts are valuable in mapping episodes or scenes of a movie through various forms of media such as photographs, clip art, drawings, symbols and dances in conveying the meaning of different events in the movie. Narrative art assist in creating symbols that represent different people, periods, outcomes and processes in a story.

Choi, Ko & Megehee in their journal article uses the pretty woman movie to demonstrate how fashion influences physical and psychological transformation in movies (2012). Choi uses visual narrative art and movie's costumes to promote understanding of the movie “Pretty Woman”. The iconic fashions and clothes used in the Movie “Pretty Woman” serve a proclamatory function in movie, they collide with the sequences in which they are placed because they carry an alternative, independent meaning that is not  necessarily subservient to or even compatible with that of the dominant narrative. 

Consequently, Choi, Ko & Megehee (2012) in their journal article “Fashion's role in visualizing physical and psychological transformations in movies” use the movie “Pretty Woman” for the readers to understand the role of fashion and costumes in movies. The movie is an intentionally formulaic romance, constructed around the improbable match between a hooker Vivien and a rich businessman Edward which deliberately announces itself as a fairy tale. In the “Pretty Woman” movie, the dream is expressed through fashion and clothes. It shows a woman acquiring sexual confidence and a man through the appropriation of a new wardrobe.

In the Pretty Woman movie there is a similar transaction between costumes and female identity. This is evident in Choi, Ko & Megehee ‘s journal article because while Edward Lewis is on a business trip in Los Angeles and decides to hire Vivian Wards, a prostitute to stay with him for a week (2012). Edward is to meet her for dinner, but she does not have a dress for the occasion, but with the help of the hotel manager, she learns some tips on mannerism and gets a dress to wear for the dinner. Even Edward barely recognizes her, while sitting next to him at the bar. From the movie “Pretty Woman”, the slippage between personality and clothes ensures that, on their own count, costumes are not particularly special but rather function as symbolic visual shorthand for desirable femininity. 

The majority of film costumes found in the movie “Pretty Woman” are real in that they are given meaning in terms of how they pertain to and are informed by character and narrative. Choi, Ko & Megehee (2012) in their journal article “Fashion's role in visualizing physical and psychological transformations in movies” argues that the costumes in the movie are dependent on contextualization for significance and do not impose meaning. Therefore the red dress in the movie Pretty Woman carries the meaning that Vivien is pretty.

Fashions play a positive role in visualizing sociological and psychological transformations in movies because in Choi, Ko & Megehee (2012) journal article the movie “Pretty Woman” establishes Vivian’s worthiness by means of subtle visual strategy especially the costumes. Vivian’s beauty is presented as a sign of her worth as an individual. Because clothes are used to signify class, this means that she deserves to be wealthy for beauty is the natural basis for social privilege among women. In this context it is misleading to say of Pretty Woman’s presenting a transformation of Vivian’s character. It would be more accurate to see the movie as showing a process through which Vivian’s upper-class identity is brought forth from its merely implicit existence into a fully explicit one by fashion.

The movie “Pretty Woman” also focuses on Vivian, now wearing a long white dress, high heels and long white gloves, her appearance completely transformed. Vivian’s transformation is also registered in her bodily comportment, although the movie does not shoe this, for she carriers herself with greater composure and restraint than she did when dressed as a hooker (Choi, Ko & Megehee, 2012). 

In conclusion, fashion plays a critical role in “Pretty Woman’s” assertion of the view of class among women. By showing how clothes change Vivian’s appearance and establish her as beautiful, the three shopping sequences establish the appropriate social position for her as a woman. This therefore confirms that fashion plays a positive role in visualizing sociological and psychological transformations in movies. Vivian has now become a “pretty woman” that is her tasteful attire and costumes sublimates her sexuality in a way that conforms to the standard of upper class taste. 

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