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What to wear to the end of the world: The function of fashion in apocalyptic narrative

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Narratives of the apocalypse remain a powerful fixture in storytelling across media by confronting notions of mortality and the significance of life. Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World represents one of several recent, mixed-genre films to unpack a pre-apocalyptic scenario with a more realistic setting than common sci-fi and fantasy approaches. Setting the stage in a world that is ordinary rather than fantastic allows the audience a relatable perspective into an extraordinary event and provides a more pragmatic experience of the familiar myth of total destruction. By exploring identity and symbolism through the everyday ritual of dress, this article examines clothing as a material representation of social and psychological processes at the world’s end. Dress is dissected in discussion with physiological needs and cultural norms as well as critically analysed from phenomenological and feminist standpoints.
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Keywords: apocalypse; dress; gender; identity; materiality; narrative; symbolism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Drexel University 2: St. John’s University

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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  • Film, Fashion & Consumption is a peer-reviewed journal designed to provide an arena for the discussion of research, methods and practice within and between the fields of film, fashion, design, history, art history and heritage. The journal seeks to stimulate ongoing research on these topics and to attract contributions not only from scholars researching in these areas but also from practitioners, who are traditionally excluded from academic debate. The journal thus aims to unite and enlarge a community of researchers and practitioners in film, fashion, consumption and related fields, whilst also introducing a wider audience to new work, particularly to interdisciplinary research which looks at the intersections between film, fashion and consumption.
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