Project 4: Exercise 1 ~ Analysing a fashion image

I was initially unsure of how to approach this exercise so I chose a few different fashion images, printed them out and annotated them in my physical learning log. Doing this helped me to decide which image to analyse in more detail for this exercise. I took some photo’s of the annotated fashion images I’ve stuck in my physical learning log, see below:

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I’ve chosen to analyse the fashion image and garment below, it’s a Dior Dress photographed Irving Penn:

1950 Christian Dior Dress, photograph by Irving Penn.

1950 Christian Dior Dress, photograph by Irving Penn.

Silhouette – the darker, heavier weighted fabric which forms the corset and sides/back of the dress gives a defined hourglass shaped silhouette.

Volume – A sense of volume is created by the pastel coloured tule underskirts and enhance greatly by the fact that the structured heavier fabric is kept to the sides and top of the dress.

Drape – excess and layering of numbers of tule underskirts on top of each other adds a drape to the garment but without looking cumbersome.

Movement – the drape of the layers of tule also gives a sense of movement to the garment, you can image the skirt bustling around when walking or dancing.

Colour – there’s a sense of contrast in terms of colour from the outer sides of the dress and corset (they appear dark green possibly black) and the pastel shades of the tule underskirts. The gold coloured embellishments add to the sense of glamour and richness of the different colours at play together.

Print/Pattern – there’s not really print on the garment but there’s a sense of pattern or mirroring in the gold embellishments which sit either side of the corset top and sides of the dress. It kind of reminds me of the kind of pattern you might find on a luxury gold or silver foiled wall-paper.

What is the context of the garment?

I’m not sure what the photograph or posing of the model in the garment was for or rather who it was for. But I can consider the context in which the dress is seen on the model and the background. The blue background with it’s faded appearance provides a soft background for the dress to really shine against. I think the background colour also compliments the pastel colours of the tule underskirts, and helps to create a darker outline or silhouette of the models body and the form created by the cinched in waist and voluminous skirt.

What is the image for and how does this affect its appearance and focus?

I’m not 100% sure what the image was for, but the photographer Irving Penn was a photographer for Vogue for a number of years so it could well have been part of fashion shoot for their magazine or promotional shot for Christian Dior (the designer).

I think it’s also worth mentioning the angle of the photograph, it wasn’t taken head on. It looks as if the photographer shot looking upwards perhaps crouching, the effect is to emphasise the volume of the skirt and overall silhouette. I also like the grainy nature of the photograph, I think it helps with the glamorous or soft, even romantic feel.

How do you relate to the image?

To me the image speaks of the beginning of couture fashion and Dior’s movement in the 1940s/1950s to bring extravagance and elegance to women’s fashion after the years of frugality and regulation over the period of world war two. It captures old notions of beauty or glamour and the female form, that silhouette of a nipped in waist and enlarged hips/skirt is of that era.

Is the model important?

I think the model is very important to the overall ‘look’ or story created by the image. Her pose with the mirror in one hand and fixing her hair adds to the sense of glamour, she looks like a woman preparing to go to an event or party. I think her fine facial features and bone structures add to the dramatics of the dresses silhouette. Her dark brown hair, red lips and perfectly smoothed eye brows all have a look of Audrey Hepburn, I’m not sure if she was a well known actress at this point but that’s who the model reminds me off (and that plays in the notion of glamour and sophistication).

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