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Title: Dressing the part : costuming of lesbian identities in contemporary film and television
Author: Cox, Fiona E.
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines lesbian costuming and dress in contemporary British and American film and television, offering analyses of sartorial constructions of gay female identities in modern media. It uses close textual analysis and interviews with producers and consumers to examine the production, texts, and reception of selected representations, outlining current social rituals of lesbian style. Interviews were held with Cynthia Summers, Lesley Abernethy, Niamh Morrison, Catherine Adair, Janie Bryant, Tina Scorzafava and Mary Claire Hannan about their designs. Spectators answered questions and responded to photographs and a transcript. The thesis argues that the modern-day designer of lesbian costuming is subject to a contradictory triangle of demands, encompassing the need for costume to support character, resistance to stereotypes, and the recognition and perceived positive politics of identifiable lesbianism. Chapters covering Lip Service and The L Word; Desperate Housewives, Deadwood, and Mad Men, and Gillery’s Little Secret and The Kids Are All Right examine differing results of these pressures. The thesis argues that while anxiety over ‘butch’ stereotypes and heteronormative mainstream demands for assimilation play a part in the overwhelming ‘femininity’ of many examples, an increase in lesbian visibility has also paradoxically instigated a shift away from specificity in media representations through dress because lesbianism is no longer seen as a ‘story’. It suggests that lesbian authorship and using real-life lesbian styles as costume inspiration may offer a way out of the stereotype vs. ‘authentic’ imagery impasse without erasing recognisably lesbian iconography. Finally, the thesis concludes that the production, text and reception of contemporary lesbian images at times comprises a complete circuit of communication, with production decisions and everyday practices of lesbian dress both echoing and informing one another.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; PN1993 Motion Pictures