Birds of paradise, selected and sold at elemental

Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle
Edited by: Marketa Uhlirova

Book Design: Laurenz Brunner Studio

Essays by: Lucy Fischer, Inga Fraser, Ronald Gregg, Sumiko Higashi, Catherine Hindson, Esther Leslie, Giovanni Lista, Eugenia Paulicelli, Ryan Powell, Jody Sperling, Juan A. Suarez, Karl Toepfer, Marketa Uhlirova.

This book explores cinema costume as a form of opulent visual spectacle. It focuses on dozens of lavishly styled films made during three distinct historical ‘episodes’ in European and American cinema – early film of the turn of the 20th century, popular exotic spectaculars of the 1910s and ’20s, and underground queer cinema with its core activity in the 1960s – in order to examine how and why they often foregrounded dress as the star of the show. Looking at the medium of film in parallel with wider cultures of urban popular spectacle and entertainment, especially fashion, dance and the theatre, the contributors to this book explore how dynamic displays of costume and splendour have helped visualise certain key concerns of modernity, such as movement, time, transience and gender identity. Above all, the essays highlight the immense transformative potential of costume and fashion in the moving image and beyond. The volume is illustrated with over 300 film stills, frame enlargements and other archival images.

Positively breath-taking!

––Agnès Bertola, Department of Silent Fiction Film, Gaumont Pathé Archives

I get books and magazines sent to me every day and they pile up for weeks/months before I get to look through them… well, this one had me hooked right away. A terrific manifesto!

––Cindy Sherman, artist

Published by Koenig Books, London, 2013
344 pages with 313 BW and colour illustrations


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