Part of: Class of 2021
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Fashion History and Theory: Central Saint Martins

published on 10 June 2021

Explore the BA Fashion Communication: Fashion History and Theory pathway's final year projects and theses.

Explore the BA Fashion Communication: Fashion History and Theory pathway's final year projects and theses.

  1. A Whiggish History: How Wigs Inform Hygiene & Consumption in The Eighteenth-Century. By Alex McQueen.

As an intern at the costume department of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, I was struck by an early eighteenth-century wig. Due to their organic material such wigs rarely survive. The only other known Dutch wig of the period resides in the Amsterdam Museum. The unique opportunity to conduct an object analysis on both wigs served as the starting point of my thesis. I spend a lot of time in city archives to research the wigs, their makers and wearers. Finally, I analysed the objects in two areas: health and hygiene, and class and consumption, using theories on material culture and conspicuous leisure, tracing the wig’s changing role throughout the period. 

2. Digital Beauty: How Social Media is Shaping Contemporary Perceptions of Beauty. By Anna Lauder.

The evolution of beauty can be traced back through art and literature throughout the centuries. My research is an exploration of how social media is shaping the contemporary perception of female beauty within Western culture. Sociologist Irving Goffman theorised that all interactions are a performance of how one wants to be perceived. Social media has created the need to manage impressions digitally, which has led to the rise of amateur photo editing apps. These apps have contributed to an increase in cosmetic surgery requests; users need to synergise their online and offline performances. Mainstream beauty standards are dictated by what performs well online.

3. The Creolisation of the African-Caribbean Woman: An Investigation into the Significance and Survival of the Headscarf in the Caribbean. By Cora Muir-Joahill.

My thesis is about the cultural significance of the headtie in the Caribbean and its role in shaping Caribbean femininity today. The overall discussion of the thesis argues whether the tie is a means of resistance to European culture and a vessel of preserving Africanism, or a means of oppression and black concealment. The headtie originated in Sub-Saharan Africa and was worn by slaves across the Caribbean as well as anti-slavery communities like the Obeah and Maroons. The tie is traditionally wrapped around the hair and secured with a knot either on the top or the back of the head. The tie developed into everyday wear post-emancipation specifically among working-class women and even communicated across the African Diaspora, including the British-Caribbean community that came in with the Windrush generation of the 1940s.

4. Omens of Downfall: An Investigation into the Origins of the Sukeban and their Subsequent Cultural Influence. By Daisy Moore

Spotlighting an underrepresented group in subcultural history, my thesis documents the all-female delinquent youth gangs that emerged from Japanese high schools in the 1960s called Sukeban. Addressing ideas surrounding Japanese girlhood in the twentieth century, this project looks at the concept of the Shōjo and the initiation of the schoolgirl in Japanese society, before examining the practices and dress styles of the Sukeban gangs themselves. My work illustrates how the Sukeban’s influence has permeated through different forms of media, from manga and anime, to television, film, and fashion. Drawing on themes such as sex, fetish, and exploitation, I demonstrate the distortion of the Sukeban image and how it contributed to the sexualised Japanese schoolgirl.  

5. But is it an original?: Assessing the Meaning of Originality and its Relevance in 21st-century Fashion. By Jasia Kopec

'Is there anything authentically "new" anymore or is everything regenerated?' (Thomson, 2020). A question from a conversation between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons following their S/S 21 debut collection as co-creative directors inspired the research for this thesis. What I found particularly interesting, was that Prada’s S/S 21 collection itself presented a valuable case study for this investigation through the resurgence of Prada’s iconic S/S 96 ‘ugly print’, whilst also illustrating the importance of refreshing one’s own archive in the obvious self-referentiality of Prada and Simons. Although this question focused on authenticity and fashion's preoccupation with it, I chose to extend my thinking beyond authenticity, here understood as the state of being true to the spirit of the original, and focus on originality. ‘But is it an original?’ sits within the interplay between cultural, philosophical and societal ideas, and fashion, relating theories of postmodernism and its associated aesthetic to understand styles that rework elements of the past through pastiche and parody. The paradoxical relationship between modernist Raf Simons and his postmodern penchant for referencing is also discussed, as well as the use of postmodern practices in the work of Virgil Abloh, Demna Gvasalia, and Jeremy Scott through an analysis of their designs and their presentations. 

6. Hidden Histories: Mapping the Minimalist Fashion Canon and its Engagement with Race. By Matthew Simon

'Hidden Histories: Mapping the Minimalist Fashion Canon' aims to explore key themes around racialised identity and the development of an aesthetic style within fashion. During the post-war period, fashion designers appropriated characteristics from the American, Minimalist art movement to create an aesthetic style that embraced modernity and technical prowess. A minimalist fashion canon is proposed in the first chapter, using texts from art critics and writing by members of the art movement. Chapter two explores ideas around whiteness, minimalist clothing and aesthetics, before uncovering hidden histories of non-white and non-Western engagement. Finally, in chapter three, object analysis is utilised to understand how the fashion industry uses racialised categories to mediate success for designers. 

7. The Cheongsam and its Symbolic Meanings in Global Cinema: How is the cheongsam represented in the cinema of the West and the East and what are the different symbolic meanings it produces? By Run Zhang

My thesis focuses on cheongsam, a costume symbol with Chinese national characteristics, through the understanding of the element’s own characteristics and historical development, based on the further study of its representation in film. I divided my thesis into three parts. At the beginning we will see how cheongsam was created during the 1920s and celebrated by people before 1949; the reason for the cheongsam’s birth, why the cheongsam became popular, why the cheongsam was marginalised and what made cheongsam loved by public again. The further two parts analyse the symbolic meaning of the cheongsam in Western cinema and Chinese cinema by visual analysis and use different theories to explain the reasons behind these classic movies.

8. Coming from the Sunshine and into the Unknown: The concept and performance of Black femininity in post-war Britain. By Sunnie Fraser

Black femininity and the intersectional experience of Black Caribbean women in post-war Britain are at the forefront of my thesis. From 1948 onwards, 500,000 people migrated from Commonwealth countries and settled in the United Kingdom, the shorthand used to classify this diasporic movement is the 'Windrush'. Through the photographic medium and oral histories, I explore the significance of dress and appearance in the construction of the Black community in Britain. Whilst this is an interrogation of colonialism and its effect on Black femininity, it is equally an examination of the community’s unmitigated resilience and ability to find joy in their alienating experiences of the ‘Mother Country’.  

9. From Evolution to Invented Tradition: How rural dress and textiles came to express identity and nationhood in Wales by the end of the 19th century. By Tanwen Cray

My thesis will attempt to establish through visual, textual and object analysis, whether the Welsh national costume, considered to represent Welsh national dress after the middle of the nineteenth century, was a constructed stereotype of national identity or an authentic form of dress. It is most often depicted as an image of a woman dressed in a red woollen cloak with a tall black hat. Was it based on ‘fakelore’ rather than folklore and was its adoption driven by a desire to re-establish a tradition? The thesis will track the evolution of the traditional dress worn by the indigenous rural population of Wales and its transformation into the Welsh national costume, in order to evaluate to what extent it was an ‘invented tradition’ or rooted in reality. 

10.The Influence of Western disco as a Cultural Movement in post-Cultural Revolution China in the 1980s. By Yueting Zhang

Disco, as one of the most popular cultures in 1970 western society, was the first cultural movement after the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). In 1980s Chinese society, with the end of ten years of political pressure, Chinese people had a chance to know western culture for the first time. This thesis documents the development of disco culture in both western and Chinese society and explores that by representing freedom, energy, and ease, disco culture influenced how Chinese people saw their bodies and show a completely new way to express their emotions. 

11. Homme Fatale: How the masculine myth of the Gangster can be used for regressive expressions of the male gender. By Zanny Evelegh

My thesis explores the gangster myth’s regressive masculinity, and the ways in which its distinctive look can be utilised for the construction, protection, and affirmation of traditional masculine identities. ‘Homme Fatale’ investigates how threats to traditionally defined notions of gender fuelled the creation of the gangster myth in interwar North America. It analyses its translation to film and the ways in which filmic interpretations exacerbated the extreme notions of masculinity that saturate the gangster myth, including violence, misogyny, and homophobia. This study concludes with a detailed analysis of the series Peaky Blinders (2013-present), and how this mythic portrayal relates to the current climate of regressive notions of masculinity. Significantly, my study highlights the accessibility of this myth through dress.

1. A Whiggish History: How Wigs Inform Hygiene & Consumption in The Eighteenth-Century.

BY ALEX MCQUEEN

Wigs were an emblem of hygiene and utility in the eighteenth century. However, this does not explain the fashion fully; class and consumption also played their part.

Eighteenth-century life was defined by the emergence of a wider material culture. In the age of imperial expansion, an increasing assortment of goods became available within western society [1]. According to Prown, man-made objects or things are manifestations of the society to which they belonged [2]. They inform and shape the human experience. Brown argues that things separate themselves from standalone objects through their ‘metaphysical presence, the magic by which objects become values, fetishes, idols, and totems’ [3]. Things become symbolic, they carry meanings beyond their mere function, be it moral, political or religious, marking timely cultural shifts. An eighteenth-century example of this phenomenon is the invention of the tasse trembleuse ‘trembling cup', a cup with a deep saucer preventing the tipping and spillage of liquids. Its conception was sparked by the introduction of ‘new’ things, such as porcelain, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The tasse trembleuse served as a material expression of colonialism, whilst promoted wellbeing – no burns – and good manners to the French and later European elite. Things then, like the tasse trembleuse, become powerful entities which could make claims on people’s attention and even actions, such as the cultus of drinking hot chocolate in the eighteenth century.

The arrival of such things concurred with a newfound consumer demand in upper, middle and even lower-class society [4]. Their materialist view was reflected by the increased visibility of objects in all aspects of life. The Enlightenment attitude towards human-thing relations was also rooted in empiricism, ‘in the role of sensory perception in the formation of ideas, the thing becomes an active participant in identity construction’. In short, things aided the construction of identity.

The most obvious way to construct identity was through things like clothing and hair; they were seen as a second skin or extension of the self [5]. ‘Its visibility makes hairstyle one of the most prominent markers of individual identity and of social status’ writes Lynn Festa [6]. The presence or absence of a perfumed wig served as a signifier of class.

In the beginning of the eighteenth-century wigs were mainly made for and worn by the elite. This phenomenon could be explained by Thorstein Veblen’s (1857-1929) Theory of the Leisure Class [7]. Veblen introduced the term ‘conspicuous consumption’ to describe the event of a display of wealth that signifies social status. For example, wigs were costly to make, especially during the first half of the eighteenth century, during which the style for wigs was long. Being in possession of a full-bottomed wig was a sign one could afford to wastefully consume and thus a sign of status. In addition, evidence of social worth increased by the suggestion of leisure. In the case of wig-wearing, a long and full wig indicated that physical labour was not possible. The wearer could simply afford to be exempt from it. This visible exemption, the wig, provided a high social status; Veblen coined this phenomenon ‘conspicuous leisure’. Conspicuous leisure aligns wig-wearing with status and with notions of cleanliness. For instance, physical occupations causing its workers to engage with smelly substances such as leather tanners, butchers, candle makers, etc., were considered inferior to those wig-wearing occupations such as mayor or professor, which were non-physical. Bad smells became associated with poverty and labour [8].

As the century progressed, luxury items including wigs (shrunk in size by changing fashions) were consumed more widely, just like powder and pomatum, which gained popularity as cosmetic applications. This was due to demand from a rising consumer class. According to historian Jan de Vries this had to do with the ‘industrious revolution’ which preceded the industrial revolution [9]. He meant that ‘households acted to reallocate their productive resources (the time of their members) in ways that increased both the supply of market-oriented, money-earning activities and the demand for goods offered in the marketplace'.

[1]. Baird, I. & Ionescu, C. (eds.) (2016) Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context: From Consumerism to Celebrity Culture. London: Routledge.  

[2]. Prown, J.D. (2001) Art as Evidence: writings on art and material culture. New Haven: Yale University Press.

[3]. Brown, B. (2001) Thing Theory. Critical Inquiry, 28(1), pp.1–22.

[4]. Berg, M. & Eger, E. (2003) Luxury in the eighteenth century: debates, desires and delectable goods. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 

[5]. Adamson, G. & Kelley, V. (2013) Surface tensions: surface, finish and the meaning of objects. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

[6]. Festa, L. (2021) Fashion and Adornment. In: Powell, M. & Roach J. (eds.) Cultural History of Hair in The Age of Enlightenment. S.L.: Bloomsbury Academic.  

[7]. Veblen, T. (1994) The theory of the leisure class. Dover: Dover Publications Inc.  

[8]. Corbin, A. (1986) Pestdamp en bloesemgeureen geschiedenis van de reuk. Nijmegen: SUN.  

[9]. Vries, J. (2008) The industrious revolution: consumer behavior and the household economy, 1650 to the present. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

Alex + Cora Podcast
2. Digital Beauty: How Social Media is Shaping Contemporary Perceptions of Beauty.

BY ANNA LAUDER

Cosmetic surgery may seem to be a product of modern science, but it is a practice that has continued to be improved upon since the Middle Ages. This information was documented through drawings by the surgeon Johannes Scultetus. To build upon beauty’s association with morality, historians credit cosmetic surgery’s origins to the reconstructive work syphilis patients received to reconstruct their nose in order to avoid stigma. 'Plastic surgery' is the term given for elective surgeries that do not contribute to the improvement of health. The name was coined by Pierre Joseph Desault in 1798. Cosmetic or ksmetiké comes from the Greek word for 'adornment' and was used to describe female engagement in beautification. The etymology for plastic is plastikos, or 'fit for moulding'.

In Making The Body Beautiful, Gilman argues that the purpose of plastic surgery is to pass as someone different than the way that they were born, whether it be a different gender, race, or age group. Plastic surgery’s origin stems from reconstruction, its history is also linked to racial assimilation in the western world. In Asia, double eyelid surgery was used to get rid of the patients’ mono-lids and rhinoplasty was used to raise the height of the nose bridge. In contrast, those with Irish and Jewish ancestry would strive to minimise the shape of their nose.

The term for this is 'pecuniary emulation', the adoption of traits to pass as someone with wealth or power. In Face Value: The Politics of Beauty pecuniary emulation is reinforced: 'Beauty was not just a product of wealth, but a commodity in and of itself...Now beauty could give the illusion of wealth.' This theory has the ability to explain why surgery started to be adopted to achieve the racial ambiguity that Gilman addresses. When there are social advantages to adopting one's face to racially assimilate, it makes it easier to understand why many are willing to invest in undergoing cosmetic surgery. It is an attempt to improve their lives. The adoption of traits from other ethnic groups through makeup and surgery continues to occur today, but instead they align with online beauty trends.

While surgery may give one an appearance that is accepted, it continues to be weighed down by beauty’s ties with morality. Similar to cosmetic products, many believe that changing one's face is untruthful and, to do so, vain. In a call for authenticity, surgeon Lionel Trilling argued: 'the surgeons who perform such operations, it is urged, merely pander to vanity, which is an offshoot of the Deadly Sin of pride.' Trilling’s opinion has not affected the number of cosmetic procedures performed.

The desire to present a curated life online has contributed to aesthetic surgery. After numerous patients began requesting procedures citing the photo-sharing app Snapchat, doctor Tijion Esho coined the term 'Snapchat Dysmorphia'. The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery reported that they had a 15 per cent growth in patients looking to improve their selfies in a single year. This request accounted for 72 per cent of appointments.

In her piece 'The Age of Instagram Face' for The New Yorker, Jia Tolentino describes the new ideal as one that appropriates the 'best' features from each race into one cyborgian face. The writer documents her fieldwork in which she poses as a patient, inquiring what procedures she would need to undergo to achieve 'the look'. The interviews given by surgeons provide insight into their process which includes the use of the photo editing app Facetune in their clinic.

'Snapchat dysmorphia' is a product of 21st century augmented reality, but it is not the first instance technology has been used as a tool to depict desired post-operation results. In 1987 the French performance artist Orlan, created a face composite using the features of famous female subjects in western art on a computer program. She then underwent nine surgical procedures to acquire the traits depicted by artists including Leonardo di Vinci, Gustave Moreau, and Sandro Botticelli, for her piece, The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan.

Johannes Scultetus, Armamentarium chirurgicum, The Wellcome Collection.
3. The Creolisation of the African-Caribbean Woman: An Investigation into the Significance and Survival of the Headscarf in the Caribbean.

BY CORA MUIR-JOAHILL

The headtie is a traditional West-African cultural ritual practised among tribes such as the Ashanti, Fante and Yoruba; this African ritual was continued in the Caribbean by slaves and runaway slave communities. Creolization was the process of adaptation between African and European cultures in the West-Indies, yet this exchange resulted in Europeanism being enforced as the cultural norm while Africanism was narrated in metropolitan discourses as savagery and uncivilised. The headtie was not just a symbol of blackness but a surviving symbol of African femininity that was directly influenced by creolization as well as the resistance to creolization. 

My research focuses on issues of colourism and social class, specifically within the French colony of Haiti which obtained a large free people of colour social group across the period of slavery. The free women of colour were essentially mixed-race people who were granted freeness due to the lightness of their skin. The free people of colour gained huge social and cultural capital and wore fashions aligning with that of the French elite. Obtaining social capital through white beauty standards was prominent among the free people of colour yet women still wore headties due to the Tignon law which forbid people of colour from showing their hair. Thus, despite their social capital the free women of colour were still restricted from obtaining full European femininity due to their blackness. These women used the headtie as a vessel for fashion rebellion and would wear taller, colourful and decorative style of ties to realign themselves with the French elite, specifically the tall ornate hairstyles worn by women of the Rococo. 

Additionally, I discuss how the Caribbean can be seen as a product of black insecurity and white inferiority specifically among African-Caribbean women due to the influence of white beauty standards. In his famous analysis of the way blackness is constructed in The New World, Black Skin White Masks, West-Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher Frantz Fanon argued that black insecurity comes from an internalised white supremacy and white supremacy always comes with the notion of black inferiority. Fanon claims this inferiority complex happens to those whose local cultural originality has been committed to the grave (Fanon 1952). The white supremacist beauty standards imposed on Caribbean women can again link to the concealment of black hair, conforming to the cultural norms due to an internalised insecurity and reluctance to display blackness. Light-skin has become such an internalised beauty standard that colourism is a prominent social issue that swarms the Caribbean even today. The post-emancipation beauty market targeted at altering and somewhat camouflaging black hair to look white as well as the gaslighting of black hairstyles, such as afros and dreadlocks, as being unprofessional and untidy is an example of how creolization has created an insecure environment for Africanism to thrive. Those who embrace Africanism, such as the new Rastafarians, are deemed as cultural outsiders. The Tignon laws can be seen as enforcing black insecurity, taking the headtie, a common and celebrated West-African cultural ritual and using it as a means of control and oppression. 

Sexists and racist discourses project stereotypical images of African-American and African-Caribbean women wearing the headtie. For example, the Negro Mammy and Aunt Jemima stereotypes are characterised by a black woman who is happy to work for her white master and is grateful for the opportunity. In the Caribbean the Black Nana and Quasha were similar stereotypes which were a result of the connection between the headwrap and enslavement (Buckridge 2004: p.89). This stereotype is often characterised through a dark-skinned woman, wearing a (typically red) headtie and an apron. The headtie in this context can be seen as a symbol of European ownership, contributing to the racist notion that slaves were grateful and happy to serve their masters. Feasibly, on a darker-skinned African-American or African-Caribbean woman the headtie is a symbol not of Africanism, but slavery. Alternatively, on a free woman of colour or lighter-skinned subject, the headtie can be seen as means of concealing blackness and aligning with European beauty ideals. Alternatively, the Maroons, an anti-slavery community-based in Jamaica, wore the headtie as a means of preserving Africanis and displaying black femininity. The headtie has become a strong symbol of Maroonage; female warriorship and emancipation and contemporary Jamaican culture still aligns these characteristics with the headtie.

The headtie remains one of the only aspects of cultural wear to come out of the Caribbean and since the Caribbean is a mere combination of Europeanism and Africanism, resistance and oppression, the headtie is going to be enthralled in a history that both celebrates and demonises blackness. The headtie has developed a type of woman that differs from the European woman and differs from the West-African woman. The headtie is a unique example of the female story of slavery and resistance without any male association. In this context, the headtie can be seen as a symbol of power detached from skin tone. Fanon and Halls' concept of lack of cultural identity seems ambiguous when speaking on the headtie. The headtie has in fact offered meaning, a sense of community for its and arguably cultural identity for its wearers. 

From the photograph series 'The Last Days of Martinique', unknown photographer, 1929 (showing the survival of the tie post-emancipation).
From the Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLOC), unknown photographer, 2010 (showing the survival of the tie post-emancipation).
4. Omens of Downfall: An Investigation into the Origins of the Sukeban and their Subsequent Cultural Influence.

BY DAISY MOORE

Emerging from the high schools of a male-centric Japanese society, came a wave of rebellious teenage girls protesting against mainstream gender norms and female expectations through petty crime, fashion choices, and radical solidarity. The unique and fascinating Sukeban were all-female street gangs, an idiosyncratic feat in itself, that not only used physical violence to prove that they could be both strong and women, but also manipulated their dress to reflect their physical, and metaphorical, strength and unity.

Clothes can be understood as the boundary between body, self, and society, and they can be used to show acceptance, conformity to, and refusal of social expectations of gender. The Sukeban lifestyle held at its core the idea that a woman does not have to bow down to a man, and their customisation of fashion was a protest against the societal standards put against them. Foreshadowing the ways of 70s punks in Britain, the Sukeban turned their sērā-fuku uniforms from a symbol of conformity and oppression, into one of expression, freedom, and rebellion. Rolled up sleeves, Converse trainers, and cropped blouses to expose the waist all became indicative of a Sukeban girl gang member, but perhaps the most significant dress style was their long school skirts. The altered and lengthened school skirts could be seen as a protest to the sexual revolution, as although women were becoming more in control of their sexuality, it also increased the concept of a woman’s existence being solely for male pleasure. Their long school skirts can also be considered as a reaction to the sexualisation of schoolgirls by Japanese men, as the Sukeban were trying to prove that their bodies could be more than simply sexual objects, but weapons of power and destruction.

To further portray a menacing image, the Sukeban wore little makeup but sported extremely thin eyebrows and messy hair, and the layering of their uniforms and long school skirts meant they could easily conceal weapons such as knives, razors, and chains should a brawl ensue. Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Sukeban aesthetic is that even post-graduation, the Sukeban members continued to wear their uniforms, customising them further with embroidered roses, anarchic kanji characters, and gang symbols on their blouses.

As the Sukeban gangs of the 60s and 70s started gaining recognition for their deviant acts, production companies decided to capitalise on the image of a weapon-wielding sērā-fuku-wearing schoolgirl for their own benefit. Facing an economic crisis in the 1960s as the television’s popularity began to soar, Japanese film studios became desperate to attract an audience and resorted to the most obvious selling point of all; sex. And so, the booming pinku eiga industry, literally meaning 'pink films', or colloquially 'sex films', was born.

Japan’s cinematic landscape became fuelled by sex, and in the early 70s emerged the distinctive Pinky Violence film series from major studio Toei. The series of films incorporated levels of both nudity and violence, and famously featured the Sukeban trope. Under Toei, Norifumi Suzuki directed a series of films that took advantage of the Sukeban subculture, most notably Girl Boss Guerilla (Sukeban gerira) (1972), and the first two films in the Terrifying Girls’ High School (Kyōfu Joshi Kōkō) film series: Terrifying Girls' High School: Women's Violent Classroom (Kyōfu Joshi Kōkō: Onna Bōryōku Kyōshitsu) (1972) and Terrifying Girls' High School: Lynch Law Classroom (Kyōfu Joshi Kōkō: Bōkō Rinchi Kyōshitsu) (1973). These films made stars of ‘bad girl’ actresses Reiko Ike and Miki Sugimotto and gave an exaggerated and sexualised portrayal of the Sukeban.

We can speculate that the Sukeban depicted in these Pinky Violence films could be seen as empowering and embracing of their sexuality due to the level of violence involved in the films compared to the other subservient representations of Japanese women in film at the time. However, the nudity involved still leads to the sexualisation of these women, which was in direct contrast with the Sukeban ethos. As the original evidence of the Sukeban gang members was slowly lost, their strength, solidarity, and protest were being sexualised for young men’s enjoyment and exploited for commercial gain, with their image even commonly featuring in seinen manga, specifically targeting young men. The Japanese schoolgirl as a sexual ideal is perhaps one of the most famous fetishes of all, and it is one that the Japanese film industry exploited and popularised to the extent that sex and the Sukeban became so closely associated.

5. But is it an original?: Assessing the Meaning of Originality and its Relevance in 21st-century Fashion.

BY JASIA KOPEC

Fashion has long been known to reference the past. With the emergence of postmodernism came an approach where referencing became the main characteristic of the associated aesthetic. This new approach and method of referencing became synonymous with postmodern style making postmodernism a useful tool for investigating the meaning of originality. The celebration of the past was exemplified through the application of pastiche and parody as investigated in the contrasting works of cultural theorists Linda Hutcheon and Fredric Jameson. It can be argued that the way in which copying was practiced within fashion was different prior to the era of postmodernism. According to Lehmann, who does not look through the postmodernist lens, this is because of fashion’s 'urge to be radically new, it has to be conscious of what came before'. When copies of Chanel’s simple black dress emerged in an attempt to offer cheaper variations the sole purpose lay in imitating a fashionable look, the same way in which neoclassicism sought to replicate dress in ancient Greece or Rome. In the shift towards postmodernism, copies become more obvious references that pay homage or mock preexisting designs, offering a fresh perspective on old 'classics'. This is categorised as examples of pastiche and parody that act as a justification for appropriation, and raise new questions for the idea of originality that emerge from 'namely, the random cannibalisation of all the styles of the past, the play of random stylistic allusion'.

Forty years after Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, a designer 'credited with making fashion modern', began to embody the cyclical nature of fashion and the rejection of metanarratives before the emergence of postmodernism. Not only did Saint Laurent question referencing the past through revolutionary looks such as the A/W 66 'Le Smoking' suit, but he went further, as postmodernism does, to remake it. Most notable in the A/W 65-66 collection are the four wool sack (shift) cocktail dresses that paid homage to abstract Dutch painter Piet Mondrian’s Composition II with Red Blue and Yellow (1930).

Although, one could view Saint Laurent’s literal pasting of Mondrian’s design from canvas to dress as completely unoriginal and a direct copy, he managed to rework past styles into a present-day narrative that was successful from both an original and commercial standpoint. Saint Laurent utilised a past design and created something that now becomes iconic not in its use of reference or association with a favourable design but as a standalone garment. Additionally, in the marrying of fine art and high fashion, as well as it being an ode to Mondrian, this garment reflects the fragmented and intertextual nature of postmodernism, and more specifically exemplifies pastiche. Pastiche can be understood as a reference of the past made in homage, that continues to evolve as it moves away from its aesthetic purposes and becomes a communicative tool.

If we return to the use of pastiche in 21st-century fashion, both Hutcheon and Jameson’s interpretations of pastiche and the state of originality can be seen in Moschino’s A/W 20 collection. Jeremy Scott’s designs introduce us to a visually stimulating depiction of 18th century French Queen Marie Antoinette as a trench coat wearing Moschino Muse. Extravagant silhouettes reminiscent of 18th-century mantuas, petticoats and panniers are reimagined with unusual materials such as gold brocaded denim, biker leather and velvet furniture fabric, then fused with radical 1960s miniskirts, a hem length of course forbidden in the 1700s. At first glance, this collection is a highly stylised and ornamented interpretation of past styles that lacks originality and thus supports Jameson’s claim that 'the producers of culture have nowhere to turn but to the past'. Additionally, in the clear disregard of historical accuracy, Jameson’s loss of history is further exemplified in an attempt to capitalise on historical figures reimagined in modern-day silhouettes and fads such as Japanese anime. However, this collection can also be credited for its modern tongue-in-cheek reinterpretation of historical figures that Scott makes relevant for 21st-century women. Therefore, one can find originality in the ability to rework past styles in a 2020 adaptation of 18th-century fashion, whilst retaining some historical 'accuracy' in the detailing of the high 18th-century 'pouf' hairstyle accompanied by hoods big enough to match. This reflects the idea that 'Postmodernism addresses viewers as both complex readers and media and image conscious individuals', a clear challenge to Jameson. The collection is more aligned with Hutcheon’s approach and becomes more convincing in Scott’s conscious decision in curating and showcasing a line of garments that are closely associated with the French Revolution at a time of political upheaval in the form of Brexit, playing on the historical and contemporary knowledge of his audience. Presumably the choice of peace signs as accessories was not coincidental and solely stylistic, and therefore pastiche becomes original by commenting on current affairs. Furthermore, the use of fabrics disassociated with 18th-century fashion presents a collection that finds greater relevance in originality over authenticity.

6. Hidden Histories: Mapping the Minimalist Fashion Canon and its Engagement with Race.

BY MATTHEW SIMON

The historical notion of Europe's culture as a site of influence and superiority contributed to the fashion industry's inclination to center whiteness, itself a holdover from the cultural shift of scientific racism embodied in 'anthropological, scientific and medical journals' [1], to commodity racism, where whiteness and the west, by its definition, became exemplary of modernity (and superiority) through its production and consumption of goods. The link between European fashion's dominance and supremacism sees itself strengthened by this mode of consumption.

To investigate such legacy, it is critical to examine contemporary examples within European media. Acting as the first in a series of case studies is Japanese lifestyle company Muji's 2014 Nature, Naturally campaign, which provides a modern example of minimalism and its relationship with whiteness in a literal and sociological sense. 

This advertising piece was conceptualised outside of the west, complicating the imagery whilst highlighting whiteness's regular use within fashion media to emphasise simplicity and purity. The campaign video features a group of Icelandic women of differing ages wearing white garments from Muji's clothing range. The models and their surroundings bear no relation to the Japanese company's history or culture. However, ideas surrounding race, virtue, and even hygiene become explored through the model's garments contrasting their environment. This contrast emphasises the garments' cleanliness, and due to historical connections, cleanliness has become 'associated explicitly with civility, high class, and whiteness' [2]. The campaign allows Muji to transgress the potential for ghettoisation as a Japanese company. Although in turn, it became reliant on the west's legitimisation to achieve this transcendence, further linking whiteness with minimalism or simplicity, while reinforcing the idea that minimalist reduction cannot exist on a non-white body.

An image that invokes similar tropes to the Muji Campaign can be found within the May 1997 issue of Vogue Italia, dubbed 'The White Issue.' It features an editorial titled 'Diverse Forme Di Bianco' by photographer Mark Borthwick. Starring late British model Stella Tennant on her hands and knees wearing a garment from Comme des Garçons 1997 Dress Meets Body, Body Meets Dress collection. Similarly to the Muji campaign, any reference to the designer's heritage or broader Japanese culture is absent. 

However, Borthwick emphasises Kawakubo's intentions for both Comme des Garçons and the garment in the photograph, with the image working to disrupt Japan's presence and the 'essentialised Japanese identity'. Although, both the model and the garment's whiteness are again used to achieve this. Whilst also reiterating minimalist fashion's association with the historically fashionable body, that of a white, thin, affluent woman. In placing what has since become a landmark collection by the designer on a white model against a white background rendered in black and white, the Western fashion industry's hegemonic standards see themselves reiterated by Borthwick.

The second case study, taken from an editorial titled, The Cult of Personality, initially featured in a 1997 issue of American Vogue. Featuring a subheading that reads 'The Purist', the chosen example showcases the proposed fashionable body and its use in fashion imagery. Model Christina Kruse is photographed wearing Jil Sander, a designer synonymous with minimalist fashion. The whiteness of both Kruse and the garments worn (described as a 'second-skin' cashmere pullover paired with slim, cuffed cotton pants) and the accompanying subheading make for a compelling image.

The fairness of the model's skin tone and hair see themselves accentuated by an almost translucent garment. Within the emerging characteristics of 1990s minimalism, similar garments were ubiquitous. The garment's description as 'second-skin' is noteworthy not because of it's proximity to the body but for its presentation as an idealised version of white skin, available in only one shade, the garment highlights Sander and the magazines' target or idealised consumer. 

The garment’s ability to act as a stand-in for the model's skin in its seemingly undyed state emphasises the almost overwhelming use of white in the image. Architect and Historian Mark Wigley wrote in his 1995 book White Walls, Designer Dresses that 'the image of white walls is a very particular fantasy. It is the mark of a certain desire, the seemingly innocuous calling card of an unspoken obsession' [3]. Applying this thinking to the image in question, the styling, composition, and model allude to an obsession—specifically, an 'obsession' with communicating the fashion industry's idea of minimalism with it’s by then firmly placed association with whiteness as the most desirable form of beauty or taste.

[1]. McClintock, A., 1995. Imperial Leather. New York: Routledge. P.33.

[2]. Berthold, 2010. Tidy Whiteness: A Genealogy of Race, Purity, and Hygiene. Ethics and the Environment, [online] 15(1), p.3. Available at: <https://doi.org/10.2979/ete.2010.15.1.1> [Accessed 28 March 2021].

[3]. Wigley, M., 2002. White Walls, Designer Dresses. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, p.XV.

7. The Cheongsam and its Symbolic Meanings in Global Cinema: How is the cheongsam represented in the cinema of the West and the East and what are the different symbolic meanings it produces?

BY RUN ZHANG

The cheongsam has a fixed cultural connotation and can be redefined through its representation in films. Reshaping the image of women in the past with the current female consciousness can now examine China and Chinese women from a different angle. Interpreting the cheongsam and women in the cheongsam in films from a semiotic perspective is important for the expression of both the cinematic and the audiovisual language.

A cheongsam is different to other costumes. The sexualized beauty of the cheongsam is an organic combination with the introverted concept of Chinese culture, which reveals the curves and beauty of the female body and hides classical beauty in something sexy, which is a reflection of the implicit factor in Chinese culture. This is why the cheongsam has been passed on, improved and developed from one generation to the next, following so many years of development and is why people still love it.

As a traditional Chinese costume, the cheongsam has appeared in a significant number of film and television works. Not only is the characteristic of dressing in a particular era reflected in these works, the passion and recognition of the director and audience for the cheongsam is also evident. In film and television production, the cheongsam is used as a type of prop, fulfilling the basic function of costume and satisfying the audience’s aesthetic needs. However, it goes far beyond this basic function and the cheongsam plays an important role in character image, plot promotion, atmosphere creation and theme expression. It has a positive promotion effect in film and television works. In shots by different directors and with different expressions, the cheongsam and beautiful female figures wearing it, are etched into the minds of the audience one after another with different aesthetic characteristics, which allows the audience to repeat the infinite reverie the cheongsam triggers.

This study has focused on the application of cheongsam elements in film works. Following the introduction, a summary of the beauty of the elements of the cheongsam and the development process of film and television works, its function and application methods and the application results were studied.

As seen in the above discussion, I believe that character design in certain movie works is unrealistic, but some viewers may believe it to be in line with the trend of the development of the times. It is also considered from the perspective of catering to the public’s tastes. It should be applied reasonably in films. Due to time and energy constraints, the most controversial works were only elaborated and analysed from a personal perspective, and comprehensive statistics relating to public feedback were not investigated.

At the same time, during the filming process, there are certain differences between the information a director wishes to express and the information the audience actually receives. For example, the visual experience and thought transmission the director hopes to create through their picture structure may be well received by the audience. Expectations can differ vastly, which leads to an inevitable loss of meaning in the information transmission of film and television works. Looking back at the history of the development of cheongsam in films, it can clearly be seen that films have the opportunity to present the elemental beauty of the cheongsam to the public and enhance its influence. As a cultural element, the cheongsam also passes through its own cultural heritage and its unique charm adds a different type of beauty to film and television works. The two can complement and promote each other. Therefore, in the future, although the cheongsam is a traditional dress, it should not cease to be used in film and television works. At the same time, due to the increasing development of film shooting techniques and production technology, the cheongsam should utilise its elemental beauty in order to add a touch of colour to films in the future.

8. 'Coming from the Sunshine and into the Unknown': The concept and performance of Black femininity in post-war Britain.

BY SUNNIE FRASER

Carol Tulloch testifies that 'to conjoin the legacy of a disturbing past…and the joys experienced in England is to present a multi-dimensional view of black experiences in England and how the styled black body has been informed by, and has contributed to, this dynamic'. She believes that 'this direction could go some way to alleviate the feeling of "strangeness" the diasporic experience engenders”. Whilst the oppressive nature of colonialism should be acknowledged, despite the hardships the joy that many experienced was an equally valid component of the Caribbean migrant experience in London. This ‘Black joy’ is recognisable in the community aspect of the early Caribbean Black hairdressing industry and becomes an emblem of what it means to be female, Black and British.

'The effects of White masculine definitions of beauty on Black women have meant racialized criteria of attractiveness are often inextricably linked to the European standard'. One could argue that within patriarchal society all definitions of beauty are determined by the dominant group, white men. Therefore, it is somewhat inevitable that this ideology would be imitated within the Black British community. Frantz Fanon writes that 'the colonized is elevated above his jungle status in proportion to his adoption of the mother country’s cultural standards. He becomes whiter as he renounces his blackness, his jungle'. Black women in Britain not only needed to conform to the male gaze but also to Whiteness, adding layers of complexity to their particular subjugation.

Fanon explores the effects of the assumed racial inferiority of Black people throughout Black Skin, White Mask. He implies that people of colour assimilate to their host culture due to dominant beliefs that 'the Negro is bad, the Negro is mean, the Negro is ugly'. A cultural shift occurred within the Black community that served to counter this destructive perspective, in favour of a newfound racial pride. Some individuals attempted to reverse the cultural assimilation, altering the dominant Black aesthetics. The well-renowned motto of 'Black is beautiful' - supposedly emerging in 1962 at the Harlem show Naturally ’62 - marks the birth of an ideological discourse that changed how people of colour viewed themselves. The phrase became a mantra employed by some of the Black British community as a means to dismantle the hegemonic restrictions imposed on them. Beverley Bryan reiterates that 'the consciousness has not always been there' and she claims that the 'rejection of mental slavery – the notion of white (male) superiority – has been an inevitable phase in the lengthy process of self-liberation as a people'. The idea of liberation and emancipation from the shackles of the colonial psyche is what drove the Black Power movement and aided individuals in regaining agency in their diasporic existence.

Bryan explains that 'as a result of the Black cultural revolution of the past two decades [prior to 1985], an increasingly positive sense of self and Blackness has come to dominate the consciousness of Black women not only in Britain but throughout the diaspora'. This emerging era of changing attitudes was one in which 'blackness had become a source of strength'. There was a clear influence from the Black Power movement in the United States, 'the visible signs of this new mood were apparent in the exchange of straightened hair for Afros, and the donning of "Free Angela Davis" badges and black berets'. The Black Panther Party’s ideologies travelled to Britain and in 1968 the British Black Panther Party was formed.

The Black Power movement was reliant on the notions of self-image and self-styling. Although the afro 'was not unanimously adopted' throughout the whole community, the youth of the era began to adhere to the natural hair movement, and it became symbolic of the African diaspora universally. The afro is counter-hegemonic, making it innately political. In a Eurocentric Britain, a woman of Caribbean heritage donning her natural hair is a display of ethnic pride and resilience. 'With the redefinition of Blackness in the 1960s/1970s, Afro hairstyles became associated with political change and black self-knowledge. Artificial straightening of hair…which [was] equated with white definitions of womanhood [was] rejected'. Not only did the afro become an emblem of hope and defiance, is also became an 'art form' since it [articulated] a variety of aesthetic "solutions" to a range of "problems" created by ideologies of race and racism'.

9. From Evolution to Invented Tradition: How rural dress and textiles came to express identity and nationhood in Wales by the end of the 19th century.

BY TANWEN CRAY

The dresses tended to be made up of two parts, the betgwn or 'bedgown', a loose upper garment and the pais or 'petticoat'. These were by no means unique to Wales, they were worn by peasant classes in the North of England and also on the continent. Their individuality lies in the choice of materials and in their local colourings. The betgwn and pais were supplemented with aprons, and shawls of a great variety.

Later in the nineteenth century, the betgwn lost its skirts altogether and developed into the short blouse. At the beginning of the century the skirts were long and full, with two wide pleats at the back giving extra fullness, like those of a riding habit, upon which the betgwn is probably based. Some of them had a row of smaller pleats instead. The front corners were then raised and pinned or buttoned to the small of the back. The hems of skirts and petticoats were finished with braid in either a matching or a contrasting colour. Yokes were round or v-shaped. Sleeves were leg-o-mutton or cut close fitting to the elbow, sometimes they were three-quarter length and fairly wide.

Additional sleeves were sometimes made to attach to the half-sleeve. The sleeves of the betgwn are short, but two detachable sleeves of white linen are fitted at the elbow and bows of black ribbon at the top indicate that the sleeves could be tied on to those of the betgwn. This costume would have been worn by a farm girl or working woman who, after her rough and dirty work had been done, would have attached these cleaner and more elegant sleeves to her dress. The long sleeves would otherwise get in the way during work.

A shawl was worn on top of the dress, and the shawl varied a good deal according to the locality. Sometimes the shawl was quite small, known as a ‘turnover’ – about twenty inches square, as seen in Llanelli and Cardiff. These were folded in half to create a triangle and then worn with one corner at the back and the two others folded over the front and held together by a pin or brooch. Old prints of scenes in Cardigan also show the shawls worn in this way.

Other shawls were much larger, for example the Gower whittle, which was red or reddish brown in colour and worn in a variety of ways – over the shoulders to join in the centre, wrapped around the waist or enfolding the arms. A large shawl would be used to wrap and carry a baby. The shawl was folded in half diagonally or across its width, and one side would be wrapped around the child, then the mother would wrap the rest of the shawl across her back, tucking in under the child and around her waist.

Since the 1840s, the Welsh hat has become an accessory that has represented Wales’ identity and culture, and is one of the most distinctive images associated with Wales. Hats varied a great deal. The tall, so-called 'Welsh hat' was by no means universally worn; it was a fashion most prevalent in the larger towns such as Cardiff, Bangor and Carmarthen, and paintings and drawings show women wearing the tall beaver hat. However, other types of hats are seen too, for example, in Gower and Penclawdd the straw hat was popular – of straw colour or black and these were usually made locally by old women. The popularity of the flat-topped straw hat in Gower is accounted for by the fact that girls carried the pails and cockle-baskets on their heads; this would have been impossible with the tall beaver hats. The straw was also more serviceable in strong coastal winds.

Beaver hats also varied in shape in different localities. Those of mid-Wales were squarer in shape whilst hats in Cardigan and Pembroke were also shallower. The ribbon on the hat was usually black and it was a band of silk or crepe that varied in width. Some Carmarthen hats had a ribbon four or five inches deep, but the average was about two inches, and in North Wales the hats usually had fairly narrow ribbons – an inch or so.

As most of these hats were made locally – of felt, beaver or straw– they can be taken as examples of peculiarly Welsh fashion. They were worn during most of the nineteenth century, although they were not as universal as some romantic artists and writers would have us believe.

10. The Influence of Western disco as a Cultural Movement in post-Cultural Revolution China in the 1980s.

BY YETING ZHANG

Based on western disco, ‘80s Chinese disco borrowed almost all aspects from western disco. For instance, Chinese disco musicians like Rose Zhang and Die Zhang always recorded covers from western hit disco songs, rather than creating disco music themselves to keep the high quality of albums. Regularly, Rose Zhang recorded two albums, over 30 songs per month. After landing in Chinese society, the form of disco changed and adapted to Chinese society. Chinese people danced to disco music in parks with the radio playing disco records, make or designed their own, less exaggerated, bell-bottom pants and bat shirts, and read disco tutorial books to learn how to dance in disco clubs. Even though ‘80s society was not fully developed, most people didn’t have the budget for fashion, they still tried their best ways to chase disco trends, especially in 1986, the disco fever caused by Rose Zhang.

The capitalist system was introduced in Chinese society and there were more and more independent, private businesses growing during the ‘80s, therefore, people got the freedom to earn more through business and the living standards improved as well. The capitalist system changed people’s mindset that their lives had more of a finance-driven focus rather than being decided by the great leader Mao Zedong and his government’s ideology. Since then, Chinese people became more and more open-minded culturally and it became easier for them to understand a foreign culture. Moreover, people got the right to choose, choose what they love. Disco landed in Chinese society under this condition relating to the economy. Under this changing social structure, Rose Zhang became a nationwide popular disco icon. 

Disco singer Rose Zhang (Zhang Qiang), known as the queen of disco in China, showed a way for Chinese of self-expression and in a way, she changed the behavior of Chinese people and brought them a breath of fresh air from western disco, about how to be yourself and express your thoughts and body confidently by acting against traditional cliches of being a good girl. When talking about her career, almost everyone who has been through the ‘80s knows about her, her style, and her music. Rose is truly a disco icon; from 1984 to 1986, she released over 20 records that achieved over 20 million sales. The unbelievable nationwide popularity of Rose Zhang from 1985 to 1986 created disco fever in the whole Chinese society, which was also the disco upsurge in China. Besides, Rose become the only icon who in 1986, on behalf of Chinese disco, was on the cover of Time magazine, with the title ‘The Most Popular Female Singer in the World’. From the list of Time magazine, Rose was compared with Jennifer Rush and Whitney Houston, which proved how influential disco culture was in Chinese society. Different from America and Europe, Rose was the only disco-focused singer and would love to brand herself as a disco artist who is still productive in 2020. After having an interview with her, she gave her ideas about disco culture’s situation, what disco meant to Chinese people, and disco fashion.

Both Rose and her manager believe undoubtedly that disco is a kind of culture that changed the personalities of Chinese people into a more confident, international, and modern character, and has changed the history of China. In terms of music, speaking out loud about love and romance was initially slowly accepted by the Chinese. On the other hand, Rose also set up the Chinese disco fashion trend. Like the ideology of western disco, dancing freely, showing your body confidently, and dressing to speak were the main trends from 1986. 'The ubiquitous nature of dress would seem to point to the fact that dress or adornment is one of how bodies are made social and given meaning and identity…The body is the source of our identity and, if we "working" on it, can potentially enhance our social status.' When talking about fashion, trends, and styles, dressing the body is a process to create social connections and build one’s identity, which talks about a person’s ‘social status’ and even class. In the ‘80s, no one dressed as boldly as Rose, her fans called her ‘girl from the city’ to draw the prominent style of her. Compared with the west, disco fashion in China has similar elements but it is also different because Chinese people used their creativity to achieve the most 'disco' style.

11. Homme Fatale: How the masculine myth of the Gangster can be used for regressive expressions of the male gender.

BY ZANNY EVELEGH

This excerpt is taken from the second section of the final chapter of the thesis, it draws parallels between the content of Peaky Blinders’ (2013) interpretation of the gangster myth and contemporary regressive masculine sentiments.

Nostalgic Masculinities:

The ‘Peaky’ interpretation of the gangster myth is relevant to deeper issues of shifting gender structures and beliefs, and a growing feeling of the loss of traditional masculine dominance. This has occurred as a result of mainstream feminist discussions, dismantling of destructive gender norms, and LGBTQ+ support and celebration. The series and its hyper-accessible dress can act as a powerful tool for certain mythic consumers who want comfort and stability in terms of their masculine identity, or who want a more active reinforcement of their traditionally defined masculinity.

During a love scene in Season Five, ‘Tommy’ (Cillian Murphy) says to his wife ‘Lizzy’ (Natasha O’Keefe); ‘You belong to me, my property. No one touches my property’ [1]. The notion of a wife as property relates to a historic feature in women’s inequality; coverture (legislation that resulted in a woman’s legal existence evaporating when she became married). This law was being broken down from 1870 in Britain, almost 60 years prior to the 1929 setting of this season, leading one to wonder why this strange fantasy was included in the dialogue. Larke-Walsh argues that the constant reminders of their valiant military service and its damaging mental health effects are used to explain and excuse the sexist behaviour of the ‘Peaky’ gang [2]. Discussions have been held regarding nostalgic portrayals of the pre-second wave feminist epoch through the series Mad Men (2007-2015) [3]. However, it is Peaky Blinders’ excused sexism that reflects an outcry of men who feel under attack by recent global feminist discussions concerning the unequal and abusive treatment of women by men [4]. This has been sparked by movements like Me Too (2016) and Time’s Up (2018). Certain male celebrities such as William H. Macy even stated ‘It’s hard to be a man these days’ [5]. The masculinity that the show depicts, and the constant demolition of female strength alongside the advancement of men, act as an idealised world for certain mythic consumers, where accusations and punishments of sexual misconduct and regressive behaviour are scarce.

The series also includes more blatant affronts to feminism, in the portrayal of Jessie Eden. An iconic proto-feminist and socialist activist, Eden fought for ‘women and social justice her whole life,’ [6]. The series skims over her numerous achievements and more insultingly, portrays her as Tommy’s’ (Cillian Murphy) love interest. This not only slights her socialist politics (as she is seduced by a wealth-driven gangster) but also her feminist history. Additionally, her portrayal continues the idea that the gangster is irresistible to women, amplified here with a woman who even actively rejects their ethos and politics. Like the interwar period, popularity of mythic engagement can be attributed to current threats to traditionally defined masculine identities. However, today’s threats, particularly in terms of feminism, are clear and direct attacks on harmful notions of manhood and gender hierarchies, unlike the mostly indirect interwar threats. Kimmel discusses the prevalence of ‘men’s rights’ groups today, and their fear of a future where ‘a male-hating feminist establishment,’ will be in control [7]. However, this hatred and fear exist in the mainstream too. Music and culture platform, GRMDAILY, with over 2 million Instagram followers, promoted an article from their site titled ‘Survey finds 97% of young women in the UK have been sexually harassed’ [8]. The comment section, before being deactivated, saw statements from men like: ‘55% of them was probably lying’, ‘But when is it just being too sensitive?’, ‘C’mon lads, we can do better and raise it to 100%!’, and ‘All about women these days innit’' [9]. One could link this mainstream traditional masculine hatred of feminism to mythic engagement and usage of the gangster myth through dress today, arguing that it is more potently charged and active. The Peakys' continuation of the myth, definitive anti-feminist content, and accessibility of the 'look', present the perfect opportunity for certain mythic consumers, enabling them to vigorously promote this feeling of traditional masculine resistance towards feminism.

[1]. ‘Strategy’ (2019) Peaky Blinders (2013-), Season Five, Episode Three. BBC One, 1 September 2019, 21:00.

[2]. Larke-Walsh, G. S. (2019) ‘’The King’s Shilling’: How Peaky Blinders uses the experience of war to justify and celebrate toxic masculinity’, Journal of Popular Television, Vol.7, NO.1, pp.39-56, 1 March 2019.

[3]. Willson Hollday, H. (2016) ‘How far we’ve come? Nostalgia and post-feminism in Mad Men’, Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies, Vol.13, Iss.2, November 2016.

[4]. Bola, J.J. (2019) Mask Off: Masculinity Redefined. London: Pluto Press.

[5]. Krattenmaker, T. (2018) ‘Yes, it's hard to be a man in the #MeToo #TimesUp era. And it should be.’, USA Today Opinion, 29 January 2018.

[6]. Hokin, C. (2018) ‘Jessie Eden: Working Class Hero’, Historia, 7 February 2018.

[7]. Kimmel, M. (2019) Angry White Men: American Masculinity and the End of an Era. New York: Bold Type Books.

[8]. GRMDAILY (2021) ‘In a YouGov questionnaire, which was carried out by UN Women UK, 97% of women aged 18-24 said they had been subjected to sexual harassment’, [Instagram], 10 March 2021.

[9]. GRMDAILY (2021) ‘In a YouGov questionnaire, which was carried out by UN Women UK, 97% of women aged 18-24 said they had been subjected to sexual harassment’, [Instagram], 10 March 2021.

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