Stereotyping the Fashion Industry
The office scurries to its positions awaiting the arrival of the icy Miranda Presley. The clicks of her Jimmy Choo heels terrify those under her high, prominent rank. Once the powerful editor of Runway magazine is in sight, you can definitely tell the devil is in the details. Intelligent, unfashionable Andy had no idea what she is applying for, but she will soon find out. The same scene is set for the paralleling movie from 1957, Funny Face. Maggie Prescott, the editor-and- chief of Quality magazine, storms into the colorful building with determination in her eyes. She is in search for the new ook- something beautiful and intellectual.
It is no surprise that she finds this in the bookworm, Jo, played by the unique Audrey Hepburn. Not much has changed from the 1950s to the late 2000s. These movies represent the preconceived notion the public has on the fashion industry. The automatic generalizations and stereotypes of fashion like superficiality, materialism, vanity, and reoccurring characterizations make it difficult to see the hard work, dedication, and creativity presented by designers; The public has harsh stereotypes of the fashion industry but do not take the time to ook beyond the laid out expectations shown in films like The Devil Wears Prada and Funny Face.
As fashion is adapting to the constantly changing culture, movies have remained in a rut of stereotyping the fashion industry. The assumptions that fashion is narcissistic, airheaded, and wealthy are provided through the unrealistic presentations of films. In the musical Funny Face from 1957, the strict editor, Maggie Prescott, and photographer, Dick Avery, are looking for the next big look. Underwhelmed by the same style presented, they search for a beautiful and ntelligent model in a dismal bookstore where they find their inspiration, the girl with the funny face, Jo Stockton.
She is an amateur philosopher but believes fashion is nonsense. Prescott and Avery are shooting in Paris and want Jo to model; she only agrees to participate so she could hear a lecture by her favorite French philosopher. Somehow, the three shoot everything alone throughout Paris in one day. Ironically in the end, Jo falls in love with Avery and the fashionable lifestyle (Funny Face). This movie is a constant battle within itself of whether Jo should choose her intelligence or ashion. There is no scenario where a woman can be both intelligent and beautiful.
Similarly, in The Devil Wears Prada, intelligent college graduate, Andy, lands a prestigious interning Job at Runway Magazine with the powerful editor, Miranda Priestly. After ridiculing the shallowness of the fashion industry, Andy soon discovers that the fashion industry is so much more difficult than imagined. After running tedious errands that demean her intelligence and being mocked for her style, she gains her respect with her fashionable coworkers by getting a makeover with flamboyant art director, Nigel.
Andy is also offered a round trip to Paris where she also finds herself conflicted between intelligence and fashion (The Devil Wears Prada). As we can see in the similar plot lines between Funny Face and The Devil Wears Prada, the views of high fashion have not evolved over the past 50 years. The media is partially to blame for the constant stereotypes of fashion. Our culture looks strongly to the media and films shown on a wide scale. These films have so much influence on the public’s perceptions, but the scenes are set to exactly what the no desire for change.
In return, Americans paint the fashion industry in a negative ight. Ironically, western society takes pride in growth and change, yet it is still stuck in the Judgmental ideals of the 60s. These outdated assumptions are only furthering hurtful stereotypes. The common reaction to hearing fashion issues is often a sneer at the vanity and objectification associated with this industry; yet, the public knows little of the intelligence, competition, and diligence that are put into every piece and collection presented. Fashion is not a beauty contest but a form of expression and art.
It is not limited to the beautifully rich but open to the public; however, society hooses not to acknowledge its presence. Most pieces presented on the runways have months of creativity and historical background sown into its fabric. People are not aware of the uniqueness created because they caught in a web of Judgmental stereotypes connected to films. Within Funny Face, Prescott and Avery are unimpressed by the vapid models within their magazines and go on a vast search to find something different (Funny Face).
The film assumed that all models and designers focus solely on the physical appearance of a design or model rather than the thought behind the creation. Designers use the human body as a blank canvas to construct a story or showcase their passions. The industry is not concentrated on an expensive label, but on the artistry of each unique piece. Society is too quick to Judge the elaborate creations of the designers based on stereotypes repeatedly placed in films. If the general public took the time, they would see the intelligence of fashion designers and the masterpieces they create.
Not only is vanity constantly stereotyped, materialism and outlandish prices are repetitive associations with the fashion industry. Society never looks beyond the laid out ideas of fashion to see the nfluence fashion has on the economy. After WW2, Americans dove into a wave of consumerism to pull themselves out of the depression. Consumption was no longer entirely needed to satisfy the necessities of life but all of the consumer’s desires. Amongst these desires was the mass production in the fashion industry.
Since this movement, the fashion industry has become one of the main sources of income for countries all over the world. The fashion industry “is one of the few industrial segments that have remained a constant world economy contributor with an annual growth rate of approximately 20 percent… The luxury fashion sector is the fourth largest revenue generator in France; and one of the most prominent sectors in Italy, Spain, the USA, and the emerging markets of China and India. The sector is currently one of the highest employers in France and Italy’ (Zhigang 1).
Clothes are not used to full an empty void in fashion but are used as a way to express personality and create confidence. Fashion is not the main source of materialism; we are the main source of materialism. No successful magazine is complete without the leadership, drive, and tyranny of a powerful, female editor. Once again, both movies display fashion magazine editors, Maggie Prescott and Miranda Priestly, as rude, powerful dictators of a successful magazine. Always impeccably dressed and ready to lead, the two women are seen as Cruele De Vils of the fashion world.
Based off of actual editors of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar, these women are carrying the company on their shoulders and have many Jobs and responsibilities. The only way to maintain order and success is through strict instructions and blunt criticism. These women receive powerful bosses are Just as brutal and strong as Prescott and Priestly. Other companies have Just as harsh connotations as the fashion industry but do not receive as much backfire and hate. For example, politics is known of the widespread corruption in its business, and biology has battled the controversy of genetics for years.
All of the stereotypes add to the miss diagnosed perceptions of different people and ideas. Also, it seems ironic that only women can work in this industry. We see very few men working in this successful business except for flamboyant, feminine Dick Avery and Nigel. The men seem to fade into the background of the films and have smaller roles. This may be that the public only views men in masculine areas of work, not nonessential work of fashion. The films do not stop stereotyping with vanity, materialism, and a powerful editor. The films present intelligent, quirky main characters to emphasize the clich© of brains vs. ody. Andy and Jo believe they are above the nonessential realm of fashion; yet, they easily fall under the “poisonous” spell of the glamour. In the end, the two must choose between brains or body. The films show intelligent, working women that could never keep both intelligence and beauty. Only one can survive in this world. By stereotyping woman as either smart or beautiful creates the belief that women can not have everything in life. Women working in the fashion industry do not revolve around one characteristic, but must be intelligent, creative, hardworking, and cultured.
Stereotypes choose to generalize a select few that have “similar” characteristics. Yet, these standards are outdated and over generalized. The public believes that fashion is a game of who has the most expensive outfit rather than the self-expression of a look. In Funny Face and The Devil Wears Prada, the minds of the audience are focused on the vanity, materialism, harsh ersonalities of magazine editors, and opposing main characters; not one of these harsh stereotypes show the overall reality of the fashion industry.