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Cinema and Media Studies Costume and Fashion
by
Nancy E. Friedland

Introduction

Costume is an essential element of the overall design of a film. Working within the director’s vision for the film, costume designers try to replicate clothing by investigating the dress and fashion of the time, or historical period, and essentially dress actors to look (or more fully become) their characters. A costume can be tailor made, purchased, or rented. In the earliest days of cinema, actors wore their own clothing, but this would change with the advent of feature-length narrative films. The costume designer soon became an important part of the production design team. During the studio era in Hollywood, the costume designer helped to establish a symbiotic relationship with the fashion world, and helped to galvanize cinema’s influence on fashion trends and interest around the world. Costume design research can be challenging. During the silent era, there were no screen credits. In the United States, by the 1950s, the studios disposed of many of the records related to costume design. Preservation of film and related documents was not much better elsewhere in the world. Beginning in the 1970s, several interesting histories of Hollywood helped to define the work of the costume designer and the importance of costume to the film. Much less has been written on costume design in the international film world. In the last several decades, scholarly discussion of costume and fashion in relation to film has emerged from multiple disciplines, including the study of costume, fashion and dress, gender and feminist theories, cultural studies, and the longer history of the study of clothing and material culture.

General Overviews

Much of the reference literature and works on the history of costume design in Hollywood provide useful overviews on the work of the designer and the importance of costume to film. Two collections of previously published works stand out for overviews of related theoretical topics. Cook and Dodd 1993 discusses the issues related to the representation of women in film. Riello and McNeil 2010 provides an overview of studies in costume, dress, and fashion. For a general overview of working with primary source content and an introduction to costume and design collections, see Friedland 2010. This volume also provides listings of image and costume collections in the United States.

  • Cook, Pam, and Philip Dodd, eds. Women and Film: A Sight and Sound Reader. Culture and the Moving Image. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1993.

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    Reprinted from Sight and Sound magazine, this collection of more than thirty essays looks at women’s representation in film. The wide-ranging perspectives are primarily linked by ideas on how women’s issues have gained prominence through movies.

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  • Friedland, Nancy E., ed. Documenting: Costume Design. Performing Arts Resources 27. New York: Theatre Library Association, 2010.

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    This volume focuses on costume design collections in the United States for theatre, dance, and film. Intended for researchers and practitioners, the arrangement includes survey articles that discuss costume and the related art, overviews of significant collections and their holdings, extensive listings of image and costume collections, research methods, and a bibliography.

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  • Riello, Giorgio, and Peter McNeil, eds. The Fashion History Reader; Global Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2010.

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    This collection of previously published works, written by an international group of scholars and specialists, provides a comprehensive overview of non-Western and Western studies in the fields of costume, dress, and fashion history.

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Reference Works

There are a number of excellent reference works for beginning research in the topics related to the study of costume in film and fashion. The beginning of costume selection in early cinema is discussed in Abel 2005 and later developments in Grant 2007. Even though there is nothing specific included on costume, Emmons 2006 is useful for research in film studies. Harpole 1990–2000 is an essential resource for a decade-by-decade historical overview of film in the United States, from the emergence of cinema through the1980s. Benbow-Pfalzgraf 2002; Eicher 2010; Kellogg, et al. 2002; and Pendergast and Pendergast 2000 provide excellent starting points for research in fashion and clothing. One of the best resources for a basic introduction to clothing and fashion is Steele 2005.

  • Abel, Richard. Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    This comprehensive work, international in scope, provides coverage of cinema from its beginnings through the first quarter century. The entry on costume outlines the challenges of costume selection in early cinema and the growing importance of both the designer and fashion in the United States and France. Bibliographic references are included.

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  • Benbow-Pfalzgraf, Taryn, ed. Contemporary Fashion. 2d ed. Contemporary Arts series. Detroit: St. James, 2002.

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    An update of Richard Martin’s 1995 edition (New York: St. James), in which hundreds of entries provide coverage of designers, companies and textile houses, and accessory designers from the 1940s through the contemporary period. The work is illustrated with photographs, and entries are signed and include bibliographies.

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  • Eicher, Joanne B., ed. Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

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    This ten-volume encyclopedia includes more than 760 articles on world dress and fashion written by international scholars. The first nine volumes, arranged by areas of the world, include an overview of regional and ethnic dress from each region. Volume 10 focuses on global perspectives. This encyclopedia is also available online through the Berg Fashion Library.

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  • Emmons, Mark. Film and Television: A Guide to the Reference Literature. Reference Sources in the Humanities series. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.

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    Intended as a starting point for researchers, this useful work is important for reference sources on film and television studies. There is no attention to costume, but it does include references to production, content creation, distribution and exhibition, and audience and critical reception. The content, international in scope, includes websites, national cinemas, genres, and the industry.

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  • Grant, Barry Keith, ed. Schirmer Encyclopedia of Film. Vol. 1, Academy Awards–Crime Film. New York: Schirmer Reference, 2007.

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    Available in both print (four volumes) and electronically through the Gale Virtual Reference Library, this comprehensive encyclopedia focuses on all aspects of film. With contributions from an impressive roster of international scholars, the entry on costume is a useful starting point for beginning research. See pp. 375–382 in particular.

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  • Harpole, Charles, ed. History of the American Cinema. New York: Scribner, 1990–2000.

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    This multivolume work is a chronicle of American cinema currently through the 1980s. Each volume is individually titled and authored and focuses on a different decade, providing an excellent overview of all aspects of filmmaking and the industry. Available in print and online through the Gale Virtual Reference Library.

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  • Kellogg, Ann T., Amy T. Peterson, Stefani Bay, and Natalie Swindell, eds. In an Influential Fashion: An Encyclopedia of Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Fashion Designers and Retailers Who Transformed Dress. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002.

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    This encyclopedia is useful for identifying people, retailers, and organizations from all around the world that made an impact on American fashion.

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  • Pendergast, Tom, and Sara Pendergast, eds. The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Detroit: St. James, 2000.

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    This encyclopedia is most useful for identifying popular trends in clothing and fashion, including entries for the wedding dress, tennis shoes/sneakers, and pants for women, among other entries.

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  • Steele, Valerie, ed. Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2005.

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    Available in print and online through the Gale Virtual Reference Library, this encyclopedia is the work of an impressive list of contributors. Edited by Valerie Steele, a leading authority on clothing and fashion, the encyclopedia includes articles on all aspects of clothing and accessories, and biographical entries on designers, fashion illustrators, and others in the fashion world.

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Bibliographies

Generally, bibliographies are an important feature in individual encyclopedia entries. For further research, there are a number of useful, more comprehensive bibliographies. Though dated, Prichard 1981 is essential for costume design research. Lemaire 2006 and Hagener and Töteberg 2002 are useful for international film research. Hiler and Hiler 1967 provides a solid beginning for research in historical costume. Oliver 1996 is an excellent resource for beginning research on costume and fashion.

  • Hagener, Malte, and Michael Töteberg. Film: An International Bibliography. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2002.

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    Lists 12,000 titles published between 1895 and 2000 in German, French, and English with selected works in Spanish, Italian, and other languages. International in scope, this useful bibliography of resources, beginning with general reference sources and national cinemas, includes a section on production design with some costume content.

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  • Hiler, Hilaire, and Meyer Hiler. Bibliography of Costume: A Dictionary Catalog of about Eight Thousand Books and Periodicals. New York: B. Blom, 1967.

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    This bibliography contains an alphabetical listing of more than 8,000 titles on costume and adornment in multiple languages. Essential for historical costume research, the volume includes an extensive listing of fashion periodicals.

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  • Lemaire, Veronique. Theatre and Architecture—Stage Design—Costume: A Bibliographic Guide in Five Languages (1970–2000). Dramaturgies: Texts, Cultures and Performance 15. Brussels: P.I.E.-Peter Lang, 2006.

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    This international bibliography includes entries in five languages. Although the focus is on theatre, the references can be useful for identifying international works on costume, accessories, and adornments. Not all entries are annotated.

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  • Oliver, Valerie Burnham. Fashion and Costume in American Popular Culture: A Reference Guide. American Popular Culture. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996.

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    Excellent for beginning research, this volume includes references for a wide range of topics related to fashion and costume. Of particular interest, the chapter on fashion and costume periodicals in popular culture is useful for beginning research.

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  • Prichard, Susan Perez. Film Costume: An Annotated Bibliography. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1981.

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    Though dated, this is an excellent bibliography for research on costume and film. Comprehensive in scope, this volume is still an essential resource for identifying the range of topics and key publications for historical research. The author provides extensive indexing of trade publications and fan magazines by topical and personal-name subjects.

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Journals

A wide variety of scholarly journals and trade publications publish relevant and important articles on the many aspects of researching costume, fashion, and film. American Cinematographer publishes articles on film and art direction. The trade publications Hollywood Reporter and Variety are important resources for the study of costume and film with current news and production-related articles. Journal of Design History publishes articles on design and material culture. Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body & Culture is a scholarly journal that focuses on fashion. Vogue is essential as a historical record of fashion. For works on clothing and apparel, see Clothing and Textiles Research Journal and Ornament: A Quarterly of Jewelry and Personal Adornment. Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America discusses costume in a cultural and historical context.

Hollywood

A study of costume and film during the Golden Age of Hollywood begins with an understanding of the history and process of costume design within the studios. The work of the designers and their relationship with the stars and the fashion industry is well documented in several biographical works. Fan magazines provided a behind-the-scenes look at costumes and off-camera fashions that helped to fuel the relationship between Hollywood, fashion, and the ready-to-wear industry.

Costume Design

The Golden Age of Hollywood defined an era of exceptional work in costume design, launched remarkable careers for designers, defined film’s relationship with the fashion world—both couture and ready-to-wear—and helped fuel an industry of merchandising. There are several important histories of costume design in Hollywood. Landis 2007 is well researched and beautifully illustrated, tracing the history up to the present day. Chierichetti 1976, LaVine 1980, Leese 1977, and Maeder 1987 chronicle costume design, designers, and Hollywood. McConathy and Vreeland 1976 and Bailey 1982 discuss the glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age.

  • Bailey, Margaret J. Those Glorious Glamour Years. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel, 1982.

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    Bailey looks at Hollywood fashion and costume in the context of the glamour that helped define the Hollywood Golden Age and exhibited the brilliance of top designers such as Adrian, Edith Head, Walter Plunkett, and Orry-Kelly, among others. The book is heavily illustrated with black and white photos.

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  • Chierichetti, David. Hollywood Costume Design. New York: Harmony, 1976.

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    Chierichetti is a film historian and costumer. Even with its shortcomings, the book is important as one of the early chronicles of costume and Hollywood. Organized according to studio, the book tells an important history with a bit of gossip.

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  • Landis, Deborah Nadoolman. Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design. New York: Collins Design, 2007.

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    This is an essential volume for the study of costume design and Hollywood. A well-researched coffee-table– sized volume, it provides a thorough history of costume design in the United States through the 21st century. The volume is exquisitely illustrated.

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  • LaVine, W. Robert. In a Glamorous Fashion: The Fabulous Years of Hollywood Costume Design. New York: Scribner, 1980.

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    The author’s intent with this lovingly told history is to give the Hollywood designers their full credit. Of the book’s two parts, the first focuses on the history and is organized chronologically, from early cinema through the 1970s. The second part focuses on the major designers, the studios they worked for, and the stars they dressed.

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  • Leese, Elizabeth. Costume Design in the Movies. New York: F. Ungar, 1977.

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    Along with Chierchetti 1976, one of the earlier chroniclers of an otherwise not-well-documented aspect of motion picture history. Includes filmographies.

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  • Maeder, Edward, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Hollywood and History: Costume Design in Film. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1987.

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    The exhibition intended to show the history of the world through the eyes of the film costume designer. The book is a collection of essays that discuss elements of costume and wardrobe in historical films. The volume is beautifully illustrated with sketches and pictures of costumes in the exhibition.

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  • McConathy, Dale, and Diana Vreeland. Hollywood Costume: Glamour, Glitter, Romance. A Balance House Book. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1976.

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    Glamour and glitter abound in this beautifully printed volume. One of the earlier chronicles of Hollywood costume design, a useful work for the study of costume and Hollywood.

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Designers

Costume designers contribute to the overall design of the film and generally work with a team of specialists ranging from wardrobe supervisors to pattern cutters, seamstresses, and tailors. During Hollywood’s Golden Age, wardrobe departments were enormous factory-like operations. The lead designer would design, sometimes exclusively, for the star, securing what became famous partnerships. Many of the designers also worked in Hollywood or left it for the fashion industry, creating their own lines of ready-to-wear or couture clothing. This section includes select biographies of costume designers who worked in Hollywood as well as a later work that includes interviews with contemporary designers. These works are invaluable for behind-the scenes tales that describe the creative work, design process, and the relationships with ready-to-wear and merchandising industries. Adrian and Edith Head were two of the most celebrated designers working in Hollywood. Esquieven 2008 and Gutner 2001 document the life and work of Adrian. Head and Calistro 1983 provides insight into the workings of Edith Head, noted for her outstanding career that spanned the decades of the Golden Age and after. Bentley 1995 provides a tribute to Karinska, designer and costumer. Greer 1951 documents the work of this designer beginning in the 1920s. Autobiographical works, Rose 1976 and Sharaff 1976, provide a glimpse into the world of the costume designer with tales of dressing the stars. In his autobiography, Erté 1989 shares his philosophies of fashion, which provide much insight into costume design and its relationship with fashion. Landis 2003 includes interviews with contemporary costume designers, providing a behind-the-scenes look at costume and film today.

  • Bentley, Toni. Costumes by Karinska. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1995.

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    The author provides a loving tribute to Karinska, who was both a designer and costumer most famous for her design work in ballet. Karinska’s contribution to motion picture costume design is notable.

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  • Erté, Romain de Tirtoff. Erté, My Life, My Art: An Autobiography. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1989.

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    Early in his career, in the 1920s, the designer assisted Paul Poiret in Paris. His big break came with a commission to draw for Harper’s Bazaar magazine, through which he helped to define the style of the time. He continued to work in fashion and film. His remarkable philosophies, on fashion in particular, are noted throughout this autobiography.

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  • Esquievin, Christian. Adrian: Silver Screen to Custom Label. New York: Monacelli, 2008.

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    Adrian was the head designer at MGM from the 1920s to 1941, where his innovative designs helped to define American fashion of the time. This beautifully illustrated volume discusses his design process, with a focus on individual movies and on the stars for whom he designed. The book also chronicles his move, like other Hollywood designers, to custom label and ready-to-wear.

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  • Greer, Howard. Designing Male. New York, Putnam, 1951.

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    Greer was a Hollywood fashion and costume designer during the Golden Age of American cinema.

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  • Gutner, Howard. Gowns by Adrian: The MGM Years 1928–1941. New York: H. N. Abrams, 2001.

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    A beautifully illustrated biography of the chief costume designer at MGM.

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  • Head, Edith, and Paddy Calistro. Edith Head’s Hollywood. New York: Dutton, 1983.

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    Edith Head was one of the most celebrated designers in Hollywood. The book provides behind-the-scenes observations on designing in Hollywood and notes on dressing a cadre of the most famous celebrities.

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  • Landis, Deborah Nadoolman. Costume Design. Screencraft. Burlington, MA: Focal Press, 2003.

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    The volume is a collection of interviews with fourteen contemporary costume designers for film from the United States, Japan, Italy, and the United Kingdom. The volume provides insight and behind-the-scenes information on individual productions. The volume is beautifully illustrated with photographs and reproductions of sketches.

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  • Rose, Helen. “Just Make Them Beautiful”: The Many Worlds of a Designing Woman. Santa Monica, CA: Dennis-Landman, 1976.

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    Rose was a costume designer at MGM and in this autobiography shares behind-the-scenes tales of dressing Hollywood’s great stars and her success with transferring her screen styles to ready-to-wear lines.

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  • Sharaff, Irene. Broadway and Hollywood: Costumes Designed by Irene Sharaff. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1976.

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    This autobiography provides insight into the life of Sharaff, who worked successfully in theatre and film.

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Fan Magazines

Fan magazines helped to promote the Hollywood stars, costumes, and fashion, both on and off the set. Fuller-Seeley 1996 looks at the rise of fan magazines and the youth culture, particularly female moviegoers. Levin 1970 is useful for reprints from several fan magazines. Slide 2010 provides a larger historical perspective.

  • Fuller-Seeley, Kathryn H. At the Picture Show: Small-Town Audiences and the Creation of Movie Fan Culture. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1996.

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    The author looks at the rise of the movie fan and fan magazine through the youth culture of the 1910s and 1920s and discusses the increased readership by young, female moviegoers.

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  • Levin, Martin. Hollywood and the Great Fan Magazines. New York: Arbor House, 1970.

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    The book is designed as a memento to the fan magazine—what it communicates about Hollywood celebrities and the industry. The volume is not beautiful, does not have an index, but is rather included here as an example of the writing, with reprinted stories from Photoplay, Motion Picture, Silver Screen, Screenland, and Screen.

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  • Slide, Anthony. Inside the Hollywood Fan Magazine: A History of Star Makers, Fabricators, and Gossip Mongers. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2010.

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    This expansive book by film historian Anthony Slide discusses the far-reaching influence of these publications through news, gossip, and stories generally geared toward the devoted female audience.

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Ready-to-Wear

The ready-to-wear industry was an important element of the symbiotic relationship of costume to film and fashion. Beginning with the Hollywood Golden Age and continuing today, movie-inspired clothing helped launch fashion trends and define popular styles, which were marketed by the mail order industry, and the retail and department stores. Cherry 2008 chronicles the mail order industry, which changed the way America shopped for ready-to-wear clothing. Daves 1967 provides a history of ready-to wear, and Hill 2004 emphasizes the importance of advertising to ready-to-wear. Desser and Jowett 2000 explores the relationship between Hollywood and consumer culture.

  • Cherry, Robin. Catalog: An Illustrated History of Mail-Order Shopping. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2008.

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    This interesting volume tells the history of the mail order industry, which had its beginnings in America in 1872, and how it helped change how America shopped. The section on fashion and beauty notes how celebrities lent their name to products. Well illustrated with reproductions from catalogues dating back more than a century.

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  • Daves, Jessica. Ready-Made Miracle: The American Story of Fashion for the Millions. New York: Putnam, 1967.

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    A former editor at Vogue, Daves provides a well-told history of the ready-to-wear industry. Even though there is no mention of Hollywood or the designers, this book is useful for the context it provides of what was happening in women’s clothing during the period of the rise of Hollywood.

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  • Desser, David, and Garth Jowett, eds. Hollywood Goes Shopping. Commerce and Mass Culture series. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

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    This collection of essays explores the synergetic relationship between Hollywood and the consumer within the cultural context of Hollywood.

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  • Hill, Daniel Delis. As Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising. Costume Society of America series. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2004.

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    By relying on ads and illustrations as the primary source for research, this book provides a chronological look at women’s fashions and the choices available thanks to the ready-to-wear industry. The book focuses on how advertising effectively helped generate interest for fashion. Heavily illustrated with reproductions of black-and-white ads and a section of color plates.

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Fashion

Since the beginning of cinema, fashion and film have been symbiotic. What we see on film is influenced by fashion and, in turn, simple attire, accessories, and even period costumes in film have ignited fashion trends, translating to new markets for the fashion and ready-to-wear industries. Off-screen, actors and what they wear is fodder for the entertainment magazines. Understanding fashion is an important element for the study of costume and film. For works on the history of fashion, Baudot 1999 and Rothstein, et al. 1992 are informative. For a focus on 20th-century fashion, Mulvagh 1988 is a good sources. Breward 1995 provides a cultural history of fashion. Engelmeier, et al. 1997 and Munich 2011 discuss the cinema’s influence on fashion and fashion’s influence on cinema. McDonald 2010 discusses the transformative effect of costume in film. For a look at Oscar fashion, Chace 2003 showcases the stars and designers, and Seeling 2000 discusses fashion designers.

  • Baudot, F. A Century of Fashion. New York: Universe, 1999.

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    This illustrated volume chronicles the history of women’s and men’s fashion and the leading international designers responsible for the innovations in ready-to-wear and haute couture.

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  • Breward, Christopher. The Culture of Fashion. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.

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    The author focuses on the cultural significance of fashion from the mid-14th century to the 20th century, discussing the inherent debates and changes in fashion during each historical period of that long span.

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  • Chace, Reeve. The Complete Book of Oscar Fashion: Variety’s 75 Years of Glamour on the Red Carpet. New York: Reed, 2003.

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    This volume documents fashion at the Academy Awards from the 1920s through the 75th awards ceremony and is most useful for the illustrations and identification of designers.

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  • Engelmeier, Regine, Peter W. Engelmeier, and Barbara Einzig. Fashion in Film. Revised and updated ed. New York: Prestel, 1997.

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    This book accompanied the exhibition Film und Mode—Mode im Film held at the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1990. The focus is on fashion’s widespread influence because of cinema and on the influence of Hollywood. Includes an essay by Audrey Hepburn, in which she observes that costumes make the actors. Beautifully illustrated.

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  • McDonald, Tamar Jeffers. Hollywood Catwalk: Exploring Costume and Transformation in American Film. London: I. B. Tauris, 2010.

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    The book examines costume, for female and male characters, in mainstream Hollywood cinema. The author presents a theoretical overview followed by several case studies of individual films that discuss the transformative effect of costume changes on identity, personality, and sexual status of the characters

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  • Mulvagh, Jane. Vogue History of 20th Century Fashion. London: Viking, 1988.

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    The author has compiled a remarkable chronicle of 20th-century fashion. Selected from issues of Vogue, illustrations and photographs help to chart seasonal changes, trends, and what was happening in American fashion and to provide an understanding of fashion in the international setting.

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  • Munich, Adrienne, ed. Fashion in Film. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011.

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    The essays in this volume present various perspectives on the relationship of film and fashion in the larger context of cultural identity. The topics are international in scope and arranged in four parts including fashioning film, filming fashion, fashioning national identities, and the epilogue – after fashion. There is also discussion on the importance of the costume designer. With an impressive list of contributors, this volume provides a fresh outlook on the topic and is an important contribution to the study of fashion and film.

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  • Rothstein, Natalie, Madeleine Ginsburg, Avril Hart, and Valerie Mendes. Four Hundred Years of Fashion. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1992.

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    Beautifully illustrated with photographs, this volume focuses on clothing items from the “V&A” before and after 1900. The text provides discussion of women’s and men’s dress, a section on accessories, and a catalogue of clothing with detailed descriptions. The volume provides an excellent look at the extraordinary collection at the museum.

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  • Seeling, Charlotte. Fashion: The Century of the Designer, 1900–1999. Translated by Neil Morris, Ting Morris, and Karen Waloschek. Cologne: Könemann, 2000.

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    This beautifully illustrated volume is useful for identifying the major designers throughout the 20th century. The arrangement is by decade followed by sections on Italian, British, and American fashion. French designers are mentioned throughout the volume. Includes a short glossary.

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Theory and Philosophy

Theoretical approaches to understanding costume and fashion in film come out of a variety of disciplines, such as Feminist Perspectives, Costume Drama and National Identity, Stardom, and Consumer Culture.

Feminist Perspectives

Street 2001 provides an overview to a number of theories important to costume and film. There has been a number of important works that discuss costume, fashion, and film from a feminist perspective, including Berry 2000, Bruzzi 1997, and Gaines and Herzog 1990.

  • Berry, Sarah. Screen Style: Fashion and Femininity in 1930s Hollywood. Commerce and Mass Culture series 2. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

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    This beautifully illustrated study explores the relationship between popular fashion, Hollywood films of the 1930s, and women’s identity.

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  • Bruzzi, Stella. Undressing Cinema: Clothing and Identity in the Movies. London: Routledge, 1997.

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    The author examines the complex relationship between film and fashion by looking at clothing from a gender perspective. Chapters focus on various topics, including the rise of the movie fashion designer, eroticism, desire in the costume film, cross-dressing, and depictions of masculinity and femininity in various genres.

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  • Gaines, Jane, and Charlotte Herzog, eds. Fabrications: Costume and the Female Body. AFI Film Readers. New York: Routledge, 1990.

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    This important collection of essays sets out to bring feminist cultural studies to bear on costume and film. The volume includes an invaluable chapter by Elizabeth Nielsen on the workings of the Hollywood wardrobe departments.

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  • Street, Sarah. Costume and Cinema: Dress Codes in Popular Film. Short Cuts 9. London: Wallflower, 2001.

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    The author has published on British and European cinema and, in this short volume, introduces a number of theories important to the study of film costume.

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Costume Drama and National Identity

The costume drama is based on a work of literary fiction, which distinguishes it from the larger genre of historical film. Costumes and setting in these films are generally elaborate, with the intent of creating an emotional tie with the audience. The works in this section examine the relationship of costume dramas to national identity by focusing on the social, historical, and cultural context. For works on the British cinema, including the British Gainsborough Studio of the 1940s and its popular costume dramas based on melodramatic literary works, see Cook 1996 and Harper 1994. Hayward 2010 examines the French costume drama that thrived for a period after World War II. Higson 2003 and Pidduck 2004 discuss English heritage and the costume drama.

  • Cook, Pam. Fashioning the Nation: Costume and Identity in British Cinema. London: British Film Institute, 1996.

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    The author outlines her feminist view of film and national identity. She rightly argues that not enough attention has been paid to costume in film and, in what might be the best part of the book for costume research, she advances her argument about national identity by providing detailed case studies of five Gainsborough costume films.

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  • Harper, Sue. Picturing the Past: The Rise and Fall of the British Costume Film. London: British Film Institute, 1994.

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    This well received scholarly work discusses the depiction of history in film by focusing on British filmmaking in the interwar years. The discussion of British costume drama is drawn from a variety of important points of view, including audience response and the social and cultural context, and ends with a look at the Gainsborough films and popular culture.

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  • Hayward, Susan. French Costume Drama of the 1950s: Fashioning Politics in Film. Chicago: Intellect, 2010.

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    The author focuses on the Golden Age of the French costume drama, which began after World War II and declined by the 1960s. The author contends that after the radical modernization in France, the country sought to re-establish a national identity vis-à-vis the costume drama and fashion.

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  • Higson, Andrew. English Heritage, English Cinema: Costume Drama since 1980. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    The author examines the period since the mid-1980s, when film attendance was on the rise from one of the lowest points in the early 1980s. The discussion focuses on the subject matter of the costume drama and how the heritage and identity of England and English manners were understood and portrayed.

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  • Pidduck, Julianne. Contemporary Costume Film: Space, Place and the Past. London: British Film Institute, 2004.

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    The focus of this well researched volume is on English-language costume dramas produced in the 1990s and early 2000s and set before World War I. The author looks at costume drama as a microcosm of what is also referred to as historical cinema and, in a British context, heritage cinema.

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Stardom

Celebrities have helped to define fashion trends both on and off the screen. Relationships with designers and product endorsements had their beginnings in the early years of Hollywood. For discussion on the phenomenon of stardom and celebrity, see Dyer 1986, Gledhill 1991, Moseley 2005, and Stacey 1994.

  • Dyer, Richard. Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society. New York: St. Martin’s, 1986.

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    In this volume, the author’s groundbreaking studies of stardom build on his previous work, Stars (1979), by discussing the social significance of star celebrities and issues of representation.

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  • Gledhill, Christine, ed. Stardom: Industry of Desire. New York: Routledge, 1991.

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    The essays focus on the phenomenon of stardom, from the Hollywood publicity machines to consumer culture and spectatorship.

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  • Moseley, Rachel, ed. Fashioning Film Stars: Dress, Culture, Identity. London: British Film Institute, 2005.

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    The volume includes contributions by established and emerging scholars with a theoretical, social–cultural, and historical focus on issues related to costume and dress in film and the star celebrity.

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  • Stacey, Jackie. Star Gazing: Hollywood Cinema and Female Spectatorship. New York: Routledge, 1994.

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    This work takes an ethnographic approach to the subject of the female spectator. The author looks at the place of Hollywood stars in wartime and postwar Britain through study and interviews with actual spectators. The narratives are excerpted throughout the book.

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Consumer Culture

Consumer culture and the role of women is an important aspect of the study of costume, film, and fashion. Interesting discussions on women’s independence and its relationship to consumer culture are found in Enstad 1999 and Ganeva 2008. For discussion on modernity and consumer culture, see Lipovetsky 1994 and Wilson 1985.

  • Enstad, Nan. Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: Working Women, Popular Culture, and Labor Politics at the Turn of the Twentieth Century. Popular Cultures, Everyday Lives. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999.

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    The author argues that consumer culture provided wage-earning women a “working ladyhood.” The book further discusses the impact on labor relations made by the new independence of the working ladies. These women and movie-struck girls were consumers of fashion and popular culture, including clothing, dime novels, and movies.

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  • Ganeva, Mila M. Women in Weimar Fashion: Discourses and Displays in German Culture, 1918–1933. Screen Cultures. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2008.

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    In this well researched volume, the author looks at fashion as a realm in which women could actively participate in defining modernity in feminine terms. The second part of the book, entitled “Displays of Fashion,” discusses film as one of several venues for self-expression and, in particular, how the Weimar actresses helped to set fashion trends.

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  • Lipovetsky, G. The Empire of Fashion: Dressing Modern Democracy. New French Thought. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994.

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    The French philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky explores the effects of mass culture on the practice of democracy. The discussion follows the rise of democratic values by associating it with fashion moving from an upper-class privilege to a prerogative of the masses over a historical period.

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  • Wilson, Elizabeth. Adorned in Dreams: Fashion and Modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

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    This work provides fascinating perspectives on fashion from industry to eroticism, sexuality, gender, and the impact of urbanization and technological advancements.

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Clothing and Costume

Clothing is generally described in the utilitarian sense, and costume is best described as the works of clothing created for the screen. Designers working on contemporary film subjects can draw from everyday wear and contemporary fashion. The costume drama, or a film set in a historical period, generally requires the characters to be dressed to reflect that historical period. There is an extensive body of literature on clothing and costume. The selected works listed here provide background and discussion on costume. For works on historic costume, see Boucher 1987 and Davenport 1948. Davis 1994 is a comprehensive and lovely work that provides definitions of dress terms. Gleba, et al. 2008 and Hollander 1993 discuss costume and self-expression. For additional works, see sections on Reference Works, Bibliographies, Journals, and Costume Drama and National Identity.

  • Boucher, François. 20,000 Years of Fashion: The History of Costume and Personal Adornment. 2 vols. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1987.

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    Translated from the French Histoire du costume en Occident (Paris: Flammarion, 1996), this expanded edition is still important for fashion scholars and is beautifully illustrated.

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  • Davenport, Millia. The Book of Costume. New York: Crown, 1948.

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    This two-volume, illustrated work is a chronological survey of dress through the ages. In this masterful history, each civilization or century is given a historical summary and an outline of changes in its dress, with detailed descriptions of dress and clothing. The appendix includes a bibliography listing primary sources.

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  • Davis, Stephanie Curtis. Costume Language: A Dictionary of Dress Terms. Malvern: Cressrelles, 1994.

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    Compiled and illustrated by the author, this comprehensive dictionary is a gem. Alphabetically arranged, short definitions cover a sweeping international and historical range of clothing apparel and accessories. Appendices list designers before and including 20th century.

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  • Gleba, Margarita, Cherine Munkholt, and Marie-Louise Nosch, eds. Dressing the Past. Ancient Textiles series 3. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2008.

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    From a series of lectures, the book features articles from archaeologists, historians, museum curators, and costume designers on how we dressed in the past. One article looks at Hollywood glamour with the conclusion that leading ladies in costume dramas have always made a fashion statement reflecting the world in which the film was made, not necessarily the world depicted. The volume is illustrated with clothing from different historical eras.

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  • Hollander, Anne. Seeing through Clothes. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993.

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    In this book of essays, the author discusses how clothing throughout history has conveyed ideas and attitudes about people. She also addresses the idea that people look to images for what is stylish and that the utility and purpose of clothing can change with stylistic changes.

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Elements of Design

The work of a costume designer is both art and craft, and understanding the design process is an important aspect of the research process. Generally, the costume designer works with the production designer, who is responsible for the overall look of the film, from sets to makeup. For works that provide an overview of the art and craft of a costume designer, Cole and Burke 2005 is a comprehensive look at the work of the designer in film. Anderson and Anderson 1999, Ingham and Covey 1992, and Pecktal 1993 are focused on theatre but still useful. For works on the overall production design, see LoBrutto 1992, Sennett 1994, and Whitlock 2010.

  • Anderson, Cletus, and Barbara Anderson. Costume Design. 2d ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

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    A good overview of the process. In its second edition, this works treats costume design as both an art form and a practical craft by discussing the working methods of a costume designer. The volume focuses on theatrical design but provides a good overview of the design process.

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  • Cole, Holly, and Kristin Burke. Costuming for Film: The Art and the Craft. Los Angeles: Silman-James, 2005.

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    This comprehensive and detailed study of the work of the costume designer focuses on film, from the first day on the set to final wrap. The book includes a selected bibliography and a detailed index.

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  • Ingham, Rosemary, and Liz Covey. The Costume Designer’s Handbook: A Complete Guide for Amateur and Professional Costume Designers. 2d ed. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1992.

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    This volume provides an excellent overview of the profession and the work of a costume designer. Even though intended for theatre design, this is an important work for researchers to help define the sequence of sketching, research process, costume plots, and other methods used by a designer. The annotated bibliography is an excellent starting point for further research.

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  • LoBrutto, Vincent. By Design: Interviews with Film Production Designers. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1992.

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    Interviews focus on the art and craft of film-production design. Even though the volume does not involve costume designers, the interviews provide insights into research methods and how design concepts are developed.

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  • Pecktal, Lynn. Costume Design: Techniques of Modern Masters. New York: Back Stage, 1993.

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    Interviews, which address designers who work primarily in live theatre, are informative, with discussion on working methods and training; relevant also for some designers who work in film—beautifully illustrated with reproductions of sketches for individual productions.

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  • Sennett, Robert S. Setting the Scene: The Great Hollywood Art Directors. New York: H. N. Abrams, 1994.

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    This illustrated work documents the great work of art directors or those responsible for the overall look of the film. With a focus on film genres (e.g., musicals, Westerns), the book is most useful for its focus on the importance and ephemeral nature of the work creating set designs. There is no discussion of costume in film.

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  • Whitlock, Cathy. Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction. New York: HarperCollins, 2010.

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    The focus of this beautifully illustrated volume is on the work of the art director, production designer, and set decorator. Arranged in two parts: the first part helps to define the work of the design team and the second part traces production design in Hollywood by decade from early cinema through to the present time.

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Primary Source Content

Primary source content for costume research includes a wide range of resources. Images are essential for research—print and digital, still and moving. Costume collections are important and, fortunately, many of the major collections are creating digital images that are freely available. Manuscript collections for costume research range from the papers of individual designers to studios and related records.

Images

Image sources, essential for costume and fashion research, can be found in a variety of resources—newspapers, magazines, advertisements, photograph collections, moving images, and select online sources. Many of the printed works listed throughout this bibliography include images, either black and white or color plates. This section focuses on outstanding image collections from libraries, museums, and commercial publishers and those freely available online. For libraries and museums, see Library of Congress, New York Public Library, and ARTstor, a subscription resource available to nonprofit organizations. For fashion plates, see Casey Fashion Plates and the Fashion Plate Collection. Commercial resources like Getty Images provide online access to a substantial collection of stock photography. Newspaper ads are a rich resource for everyday and ready-to-wear items and can be accessed online through the commercial-subscription database Proquest Historical Newspapers. Millions of images are freely available on the web. For historical moving-image content, see the Internet Archive.

  • ARTstor.

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    This resource contains more than 1 million images, with contributions from museums, photographers, libraries, and photo archives from around the world. With strong holdings in costume and accessories, ARTstor is available online by subscription to nonprofit organizations.

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    • Casey Fashion Plates.

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      This collection, from the Los Angeles Public Library, includes more than 6,200 hand-colored fashion illustrations produced between 1780 and 1880 for British and American fashion magazines.

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      • Fashion Plate Collection.

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        The more than five hundred fashion plate images, many from the collection of Blanche Payne, represent a variety of stylistic periods in French and English history, primarily 19th century to early 20th century. Provided by the University of Washington Libraries.

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        • Getty Images.

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          One of the largest creators of stock imagery, this resource was founded to bring the stock photography industry into the digital age. Researchers can access millions of images here. The collection is particularly strong for entertainment, fashion, costume, and dress, with up-to-the-minute additions. Images can be viewed online but must be licensed for publication.

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          • Internet Archive.

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            In addition to the billions of webpages archived through this initiative, the Internet Archive is an excellent resource for moving image content. The Prelinger Archives include thousands of ephemeral films, with television advertisements, fashion-related films, amateur, and educational films documenting dress through most of the 20th century. The News and Public Affairs collection, with clips and newscasts, is also available at this site.

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            • Library of Congress.

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              The collection is remarkable for its scope and content, including sketches, drawings, and photographs and contains many costume-related images. Browse or search on subject headings such as “clothing and dress,” “clothing industry,” and “motion pictures.” Subjects can subdivide by time period and geographic location, which is not limited to the United States.

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              • New York Public Library.

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                More than 700,000 images have been digitized and added to this digital image gallery. Posters, postcards, and photographs are all keyword searchable, or can be located by means of subject headings such as “clothing and dress,” etc.

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                • Proquest Historical Newspapers.

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                  This commercial database publication provides historical full-text coverage of major US newspapers, including an index of display ads, a great resource for researching costume, fashion, and everyday wear.

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                  Costumes

                  Costume collections are important resources for costume research, and many of the major museums and libraries with significant collections are involved in digitization projects. Collections include historical and contemporary clothing and everyday wear, haute couture, accessories, and selected collections with film-costume holdings. The Costume Society of America is an excellent resource for information on costume collections in the United States. For museum holdings, see the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Fashion Institute of Technology, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute, the Musée de la Mode et du Textile, Smithsonian, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The outstanding collection at the Western Costume Company has an extensive collection of rental costumes for film.

                  Manuscript Collections

                  Manuscript collections range from extensive holdings in the studios, generally ending with the decline of the studio system; scattered collections of individual designers; and collections gathered according to director or others involved with production. Collections can include contracts, business papers, invoices, letters, scripts, costume bibles, wardrobe plots, and sketches, with and without swatches. These materials are invaluable for costume research. The extensive manuscript collections held by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library, the Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research are essential to the study of costume design and the motion picture industry in the United States. The Warner Brothers Archives at the University of Southern California (USC), not particularly strong for costume-related materials, is outstanding for its production-related holdings of this studio through the 1960s. The Harry Ransom Center maintains exceptional collections related to film history. The British Film Institute National Library is essential for British film history, as is the Cinémathèque Française for French film history.

                  LAST MODIFIED: 10/28/2011

                  DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199791286-0020

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