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From made in Italy to ethno-chic: Some thoughts on costume design in contemporary Italian cinema (class, gender and national identity)

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This article outlines an overview of the relationship between costume and film in contemporary Italian cinema, with particular reference to class, gender and ideological discourse. Considering Italian film production in the last fifteen to twenty years, from popular film to auteur cinema, the article lays out the challenge of cultural stereotypes about ‘Made in Italy’ and its meanings in a global age. The significance of costume will be explored in terms of plot and character development, mise-en-scène and visuality, negotiating cinematic technique, film analysis and cultural interpretation. More specifically, and with particular reference to the work of Stephen Gundle, we investigate how costume design of male and female characters embodies national discourses such as nostalgia, male anxiety and the ideals of feminine beauty.
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Keywords: Italian contemporary film; class distinction; costume design; masculinity; nostalgia; taste cultures; women’s film

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Sapienza University of Rome

Publication date: August 1, 2016

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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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