2017 | Wearing Time: Past, Present, Future, Dream

11–26 March 2017



               Fashion, measure of time. 

               – Walter Benjamin


Bringing together film screenings, talks, panel discussions and an exhibition, Fashion in Film Festival’s 10th anniversary season explores the fascinating connections between fashion, cinema and time.

Probing into four different (though often overlapping) conceptions of time – past, present, future, and dream – the festival programme asks what concrete manifestations of time fashion and clothing enable. What kind of chronologies and histories? What memories, echoes and ghostly shadows? What projections, visions or premonitions? Fashion’s own relation to time may be vital and intimate, but it is far from transparent. Film, the art of time passing, helps illuminate some of its complexities.

Few things indicate history to us as immediately as styles of dress – period films are often referred to as ‘costume dramas’ due to the role fashion plays in identifying past eras. At the same time, fashion is one of the most potent visual means through which film can break away from known reality and herald new worlds of tomorrow.

But dress and fabric can also embody the passage of time. From the earliest trick films to the dance numbers of contemporary Bollywood films, cinema can magically make clothing transform, appear, and disappear. Fashion in film has always been an important sign-posting device, deployed in multiple ways: to guide the viewer through time, to confuse, deceive, and disorient them, or even to dress the wounds of time. Examining the idea of clothing as a vehicle for representing time, Wearing Time also goes beyond this, foregrounding the sense of invoking the past, present and future by donning theirclothing. Dress allows us to wear time, even as time wears us out.

The programme showcases a wide array of well-loved as well as neglected cinema features, experimental shorts, artist films, newsreels, industry films, documentaries and fashion films – from Alain Resnais’ enigmatic Last Year in Marienbad, to Richard Massingham’s wartime propaganda In Which We Live, to Nick Knight’s early fashion film Sleep and artists Jane and Louise Wilson’s response to Stanley Kubrick’s unmade film The Aryan Papers.


The festival takes place in the following venues: The Barbican, Curzon Soho, Curzon Bloomsbury, Genesis Cinema, Prince Charles Cinema, Rio Cinema, Picturehouse Central, The Horse Hospital, Central Saint Martins, and The Hoxton.


Programme Curators: Tom Gunning and Marketa Uhlirova.

Production Assistant: Marion Saurel.

Curatorial Assistants:  Caitlin Storrie, Anna Jacobs and Kate Sinclair.


To see the PDF of our print brochure click here.


For festival press release click here.


To see who supported our 2017 festival click here.






Themes and Events

The Past: Returns, Recalls, Renewals

This strand delves into fashion and film’s shared capacity to return to – or suppress – the past. It probes into a fascination with fashion histories and mythologies, and the power of dress to bring the past back to life. Clothing and style do not merely designate the past, they also mark the periods and stages of individual lives. Narratives of ageing and rejuvenation depend on convincing changes in fashions, hair, and make-up. The opening of an old closet arouses nostalgia and feelings of loss for the body that inhabited the now-empty clothes. There is something uncanny about rediscovering an old familiar dress – it can awaken revenants that return to haunt the living.

More information »

The Present: Fabric of Time

This strand explores fashion and cinema’s capacity to become manifestations of the present. How can dress or fabric embody cinematic time? How can the rituals of producing fashion, wearing or fashioning oneself make time a tangible, felt entity? ‘The Present’ tackles this perhaps most complex set of questions through events, screenings and talks which place an emphasis on aspects of performance, duration and process.

More information »

The Future: What Does It Wear?

This strand highlights cinema as an important vehicle for fast-forwarding us into design futures, and the different approaches costume designers especially have taken to envisioning these. To give a concrete form to one’s idea of the future involves taking an imaginative leap that crosses the limits of the familiar. But in design terms, this also requires great resourcefulness and creativity in re-using elements that already exist, giving them a new sensibility.

More information »

The Dream: Fantasy and the Unconscious

This strand explores the relation between fashion and dreaming. If cinema itself has frequently been likened to dream, here we pursue more specifically its investment in the reverie as a realm in which fashion can truly flourish. Slipping out of waking conscious time into the world of wish fulfilment or nightmare demands a different raiment. Not simply the sleepwear of pyjamas, or even the fantasy of nudity (Freud in his Interpretation of Dreams indicated that unusual clothing actually symbolised nakedness), the fashion of slumberland may invoke a projected fantasy of the future, or a sudden intrusion from the repressed past.

More information »


Highlighting the fascinating connections between fashion, time and the moving image, this exhibition brings together works by artists, filmmakers and image-makers John Maybury, Cindy Sherman, Lernert & Sander and Jody Mack with archival shorts from Gaumont Pathé Archives, Cinémathèque suisse and Svenska Filminstitutet. Watch projected image unfold, or look through the peepholes to explore different perspectives on fashion and time – from recordings of the manufacturing process to examinations of chronology, metamorphosis and fantasy, to moments when dress and artifice come to embody the texture of time.

More information »