Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Smile through consumption crisis

I have to confess to rather neglecting my Fashion & Film blog and if I could find the extra time I'd be going to the gym instead as I need to! However, yesterday one of my lectures delivers a great insight into female transformation as portrayed by Hollywood.

I'm not going to give away too much seeing as our visiting lecturer has a book coming out about it sometime soon, I feel obliged to wait and go into more depth then!

But one film example we looked at played out the double whammy of transformation and consumption comprehensively in the opening sequence - Thoroughly Modern Millie Now I love this film despite it's 1960s interpretation of 1920s costumes. It is a totally uplifting, fun film. Interestingly musicals as a genre have remained very few and far between since the lifting of the Hays Code.

But back to the opening sequence...Julie Andrews as Millie undertakes a walk, a walk along a street that results in a complete transformation of her look. she loses her curls, long frock coat, big hat and lace up boots to become a flapper complete with cloche hat, bobbed hair, long beads and short dress. At each step of her transformation Millie appears from the relevant places, hairdressers, dress shop etc extremely happy until she spies something else that is missing. She loses the smile on her face and her walk slows down as the realisation of not having it quite right dawns upon her.

And there we have it the perfect juxtaposition of looking good and never being completely satisfied...there is always something else. This is pure consumption. We are caught up in the consumption process and that's why we are never quite satisfied. Always looking for the perfect handbag, lipstick or dress that will make us complete.


  1. Well, I guess going into my 40's gives me the confidence to make do and adapt the current trend. I was never going to wear skinnies with heels with the jeans all scrunched at the ankle like Kate or Sienna. But I quite happily cut 4 inches off the cuffs so I could fit jeans and chunky ankles into a long boot and enjoyed showing off my J-lo esque behind in that particular look. (Until I got sick of the lady-health related discomfort, I call skinnies "canesten jeans")

    Purists would say I wasn't being true to the trend but the trend didn't suit me, so I just picked the bits that did.

    AS for Millie and her swinging beads, If only she knew what was to come in terms of bust related fashion.
    I hope you watch "Some like it Hot" very soon for another (early) sixties interpretation of 1920s fashion, and a lesson of how to walk in heels!


  2. I think I just muddle along not consuming a whole lot, and I'm pretty contented that way. Wasn't the case in my twenties though!

    I've had three glasses of rose or I'd attempt to be more articulate!

  3. Sometimes I want to believe the fairytale that I tell myself, that out there, somewhere, is the perfect bag, shoe or lipstick and it will make me the person I always dreamed of being. Most of the time I know that it is not the case and that most of the time when I buy the perfect x I end up in shoes like Millie realizing that it is not as perfect or transformative as I'd hoped.

    And, I so want to read your professors book when it comes out.

  4. Hi there-this is all too true!! I really want to embrace what I have instead of constantly wanting the 'next' new thing. I did indulge today though, 2 woolly hats from H&M and some legwarmers, its getting realy cold now, so I can at least justify these, haha!!

  5. Oh man, I am so guilty of that mentality. I call it "Feeding the hole." I'm somehow convinced that the next perfect item will satisfy me ... yet it magically never does.

  6. For sure, you are so right...

    a kiss :)

  7. Kate, this is a great post. I haven't seen the film, can you believe that? I will now, with your thoughts in mind.

  8. I have to rent this film. And on the topic of being never quite complete, it's the underpinning of transformation, non? One part conspicuous consumption, one part instant gratification, one part pretty/fancy/new. Don't know if it's very bad or reasonably benign. I guess it has everything to do with where one falls on the continuum. (I fluctuate on that continuum myself.)

  9. Oooh, I would love to see this one!

  10. Yes, you speak my language. Some time ago I read something stupid like it's women's prerogatives not to be happy... that's a scary thought.

    Would you be okay I add you in my blog roll?
    Asking you because you may not want to be mixed with lightweight style blogs.. :)

  11. yes the pleather pants are very sweatty!! on the inside... hahaha. and about consumption.. all we want is more more more yet it never makes up that more happier happier happier


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