Sewing Reality: Fashion in Non-Fiction Media

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Dr Elena Caoduro/ University of Bedfordshire, UK
contact email: 

Call for papers

Sewing Reality: Fashion in Non-fiction Media

9th June, 2018

University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK


Confirmed Keynote Speaker: Pamela Church-Gibson (University of the Arts, London)

Deadline for proposals: 15th January 2018.


As two distinct art forms, fashion and film have flirted with each other in symbiotic relationships since the dawn of the medium: from British and American actualities showing current high-street fashion, to French newsreels capturing fashion shows. The synergy has been mutually influential also as far as other media are concerned, with pop stars and television dramas inspiring catwalks and collections. While the literature on film and fashion is quickly growing, this interest has primarily focused on fiction and includes, among others, works on the construction of femininity and masculinity through costumes, the definition of national identities through cinematic clothing, and the haptic pleasure of fashion in film. Non-fiction material remains an understudied source, with only a few scholarly works shedding some light on early cinema’s attention to the fashion world, still and moving images in fashion archives, celebrity and fashion, but also make-up culture and TV entertainment, the relationship between austerity and sewing/knitting programs, and the political potential of fashion documentaries.

This interdisciplinary symposium wants to fill this vacuum and excavate and reassess the role of non-fiction media in shaping our understanding of fashion across multiple platforms and different national contexts. The event aims to create an open space for dialogue between fashion and documentary studies, drawing from different methodologies and approaches: media and cultural studies, ethnography, audience research, marketing and public relations.

This is a timely intervention given that the new millennium witnessed a boom of non-fiction media about fashion, including reality shows and factual entertainments programmes, such as Project Runaway (Lifetime, 2004 – ), Fashion Police (E!, 2010 – ) and  The Great British Sewing Bee (Love Production, 2013-2016). The fashion documentary has even grown into a subgenre of its own and become a spectacular window into the inner workings of fashion magazines, modelling agencies, fashion houses, department stores and fashion subcultures. Covering a vast array of forms, from ironic takes or more explicit critiques of consumer society (Out of Fashion, Girl Model, The Life of Pitti Peacocks) to hagiographic portraits of iconic figures (Iris, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel), the fashion documentary now reignites our fascination for style.


Sewing Reality aims to discuss the interconnection between fashion and media industries, the audiences of factual moving images about fashion, as well as the past, the present and the future of fashion documentaries. Possible areas of study include:


  • Fashion documentaries;
  • Mockumentaries and the fashion world;
  • Reality shows and factual entertainment;
  • Docu-drama;
  • Fashion journalism;
  • Fashion blogs and celebrity bloggers;
  • Amateur footage and photography;
  • Newsreel material, industrial films and fashion archives;
  • Streaming fashion shows.


We are accepting submissions for audiovisual essays, posters, individual papers, and pre-constituted panels of three papers each. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words with a short biography of the author (s). In the case of pre-constituted panels, include a brief rationale of the panel, as well as abstracts and biographies of all speakers.


For queries and submissions, email Dr Elena Caoduro,


Participants will be notified by the end of January.