The Live Fashion Show in Mediatized Consumer Culture
Halliday, Rebecca Pearl
MetadataShow full item record
This dissertation examines the fashion show and its mediatization as a microcosm of online medias impact on consumer culture. The contemporary fashion show is a brief, one-off live performance that presents a fashion house or brands upcoming seasonal collection to industrial insiders and invited clientele. The fashion show is the locus of communication between corporations and consumers and an arena in which commodities, personnel and industrial practices intersect. With the widespread mediatization of social life and the prevalence of digital media use in fashion in the past decade, critics mused that the live fashion show could become obsolete. Instead, its structure remains intact, and the entire circuit has mutated into an online spectacle, live streamed and proliferated in video, photographic and textual formats on multiple media platforms and applications. The fact that consumers can now see a collection at the moment of its debut marks a fundamental shift in fashion communication timeframes. Nonetheless, access to the fashion show remains limited to an elite cohort of fashion personnel, influencers and celebrities. This dissertation argues that the fashion show remains a focal event because it transmits the entire exclusive performance to an online spectatorship with an aim to build consumer desire to participate in fashion desire fulfilled in networked interactions and material purchases. I seek to here to problematize claims that the mediatization of the fashion show renders fashion democratic or accessible. To this end, I draw from performance and mediatization theories to illuminate that the fashion shows elite nature is predicated on a literal and social distinction between spectators temporal and spatial access. I perform qualitative close readings of fashion shows and transmitted footage and utilize content analysis and virtual and on-site participant observation to examine the class-based social relations that underpin and are re-asserted in mediatized fashion representations. This dissertation moreover situates the fashion show as a focal site via which to assess the social, industrial and material transformations that mediatization has effected in fashions economies.