"In to Stay" : Selling Three-Strip Technicolor and Fashion in the 1930s and 1940s

Sammanfattning: This study investigates the relationship between the fashion and film industries during the classical era between the early 1930s and mid-1940s. It focuses on the three-strip Technicolor process as the binding force upon which these two industries relied in collaborations during that time and looks at technical challenges the new process presented to productions in terms of wardrobe design. Another issue explored is fashion’s role in the actual development of the three-strip process, allowing the Technicolor laboratory to improve the technology through a popular, marketable, and readily available product. Using Technicolor as a point of focus and continuity, this dissertation explores different types of productions filmed in the three-strip process, including shorts and newsreels, industrial and sponsored films, as well as feature-length films. Drawing from a wide range of archival material and a highly interdisciplinary approach, the study delves into the relationship between the fashion and film industries. While the ties between them have been strong since the advent of cinema, previous research has approached their relationship almost exclusively from a promotional perspective. Technicolor’s multifaceted affiliation with the fashion industry, however, warrants a more thorough investigation and this dissertation takes steps towards expanding that research area through a series of case studies.The first chapter provides an overview of color film methods that preceded three-strip Technicolor and outlines some of the key discourses involving color and realism. Chapter 2 addresses the intertwined relationship between the fashion and film industries through a study of fashion department in the popular fan magazine Photoplay and also examines the use of color in that publication. Chapter 3 investigates the fashion short as a vehicle for demonstrating the commercial potential of the three-strip process. It does this by examining the making and promotion of Vyvyan Donner’s Fashion Forecast series. This chapter also looks at the specific work carried out by Technicolor’s Color Control Department. Chapter 4 explores industrial and sponsored films in three-strip Technicolor for the fashion industry with an emphasis on those made to promote rayon. The second half of this chapter examines the 1930/1940 seasons of the New York World’s Fair, focusing on the presence there of Technicolor and the American rayon industry. Lastly, Chapter 5 looks at three-strip Technicolor in feature-length films by considering its collaborations with the fashion industry that took place in the classical era. This chapter also examines design considerations made regarding wardrobe in those films. The study concludes that color’s versatility made it incredibly influential on consumer culture and was key to ventures between the fashion and film industries in this era and beyond. It also ultimately demonstrates the ways in which color, fashion, and film intersected and complemented one another in terms of their aesthetic and commercial commonalities.

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