"When I get through with you, you'll look like a tree!": fashion photography and contesting captivity in Funny Face
JOBLING, PAUL (2012) "When I get through with you, you'll look like a tree!": fashion photography and contesting captivity in Funny Face Stimulus Respond, 14 . pp. 88-93. ISSN 1746-8086
Official URL: http://www.stimulusrespond.com/captive
In this paper I examine the theme of captivity in regard to the largely overlooked intertextual nexus between fashion photography and film. Mobilising Stanley Donen’s Funny Face (1957), therefore, I analyse how a film that is more generally regarded as a benchmark in the Hollywood musical for its exuberant use of colour and songs is, more particularly, not only a cinematic locus for the mediation of fashionable identities but one that deals with their mediatization as well. First, I analyse how representative the film is of fashion publishing in the late 1950s in the way it depicts the performative dynamic between the fashion editor, photographer and model. Specifically, I take into account the dialectic of looking, gazing and power it involves between them in creating a physical (and metaphysical) space for fashionable female identities. In one key scene, for instance, the photographer Dick Avery (the role played by Fred Astaire, based loosely on the American photographer Richard Avedon, who worked for Harper’s Bazaar in the 1950s) freeze-frames 'funny face' model Jo (Audrey Hepburn) in his studio and promises her, 'When I get through with you, you'll look like a tree!' And second, as the photo-shoot takes place in Paris and Hepburn’s ‘new look’ clothes were designed by Hubert de Givenchy, I examine how the film enacts the battle for cultural hegemony in art and design between America and France, and by implication the idea of America captive to Cold War politics.
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