Tackling themes such as disguise, desire, and the corruption of beauty, the festival features a string of underworld characters and their prosecutors whose highly effective costume, styling, and sartorial gestures helped define cinematic genres from detective to thriller, gangster, film noir, and horror.
If Looks Could Kill includes screenings of ten feature films, a talk by the noted film scholar Tom Gunning about the use of invisibility and transformation by criminals in early silent films, and a panel discussion on May 12 featuring costume designers Juliet Polcsa from the HBO series The Sopranos, and John Dunn and Lisa Padovani from the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, and Shelley Fox, Professor of Fashion at Parsons The New School for Design. In his illustrated presentation on May 5, Gunning will talk about the visual identity of early film criminals including Louis Feuillades’s Irma Vep with her black bodysuit and the dapper yet sadistic Fantomas, and will also introduce a rare screening of the 1929 Belgian surrealist short The Pearl.
Highlights of the feature films include an imported 35mm print of Asphalt, a 1929 German “Strassenfilm,” a pre-film noir tale about a lovely diamond thief, presented with live music by Makia Matsumara; an archival print of Frank Borzage’s Desire (1936), starring Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper; screenings of two versions of Mildred Pierce, the 1945 film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Joan Crawford, and Todd Haynes’s recent HBO miniseries, with Kate Winslet in the title role; and John M. Stahl’s luxurious Technicolor melodrama Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Also screening are Martin Scorsese’s Casino, Elio Petri’s The Tenth Victim, Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo, Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie.
The New York edition of Fashion in Film Festival: If Looks Could Kill is programmed by Marketa Uhlirova, Festival Director and Research Fellow in fashion history and theory at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design; David Schwartz, Chief Curator of Museum of the Moving Image; and Christel Tsilibaris, Associate Curator of If Looks Could Kill program.
“As always, the Fashion in Film Festival takes a wide-ranging, expansive
view of film history, going from the silent era through classic Hollywood
and international cinema to the present,” said David Schwartz, the
Museum’s Chief Curator. “It provides an opportunity for audiences to see
both rediscovered gems and celebrated works on the big screen. A
particularly special treat is the chance to see Todd Haynes’s beautiful
production of Mildred Pierce on the big screen, on Mother’s Day.”
“Cinema’s images of crime are both seductive and haunting,” said Marketa
Uhlirova. “It seems cinema has a tendency to portray criminality and evil
as lethally stylish. Fashion lends crime an air of chic decadence and can
Image Credit: Photo courtesy of the British Film Institute
Fashion in Film was founded in 2005 and stages a biennial festival and year-round conference and exhibition programs exploring how the moving image represents and interprets fashion as a concept, an industry, and a cultural form. Fashion in Film is based at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts, London.
Museum of the Moving Image (movingimage.us) advances the understanding, enjoyment, and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media. In January 2011, the Museum reopened after a major expansion and renovation that nearly doubled its size. Accessible, innovative, and forward-looking, the Museum presents exhibitions, education programs, significant moving-image works, and interpretive programs, and maintains a collection of moving-image related artifacts.