The Metropolis in Masquerade: Melbourne 'through the Looking-Glass' Lens of Fashion Photography
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Each of the world's major fashion capitals has a unique and enduring identity that has in part been established through its photographic representation. Fashion magazines and advertisements have represented Paris, London, New York and Milan as cities at the forefront of style and taste, not least by accessorising fashion with iconic monuments and streetscapes. This paper questions the rhetorical devices used by photographers to establish fashion capitals as style sites. It will argue that this lexicon is so successful in representing cities as objects of fashion, that locations not immediately associated with high-fashion status have been similarly posed so as to participate in the symbolic economy attributed to the renowned global fashion capitals. In analysing fashion photographs of Melbourne from the 1950s and 60s this paper will establish that two conflicting images of the fashion city were prevalent in the metropolis' self-imaging at this time. Specifically, this paper contends that Paris and New York shaped the aesthetic and cultural aspirations of the city as well as inspiring the fashion photographers Bruno Benini, Henry Talbot and Helmut Newton. This paper will explore how alternate photographic fashion narratives - Paris as elegant and romantic, and New York as dynamic and modern - helped to cement Melbourne as Australia's fashion capital during this period.
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