Ruffled feathers: Costume, gender and authorship in the Black Swan controversy

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In 2011, the popular and trade press reported a dispute between costume designer Amy Westcott and creators of fashion label Rodarte, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, following the decision that the fashion designers were only to receive a back-end credit for their work on psychological thriller Black Swan (Aronofsky, 2010). This article traces the coverage of the Black Swan controversy in order to demonstrate that press discourses surrounding the costume designer perform a series of cultural functions, often having a somewhat detrimental effect on the cultural legitimacy of costume design. Drawing on recent work in the field of feminist production studies, I seek to contribute to the body of work which examines theories of professional identity. Consequently, I argue that the coverage of Westcott's response to initial reports was framed in such a way as to re-establish these traditional value systems upon which economic structures for production are based. As such, I demonstrate that the press discourses surrounding the Black Swan controversy perpetuate certain problematic assumptions in respect to gender, labour and authorship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-186
Number of pages18
JournalFilm, Fashion and Consumption
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 2012

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