Hollywood Catwalk: Exploring Costume and Transformation in American Film, by Tamar Jeffers McDonald

Rebecca Kambuta, Jill Murphy
2012 Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media  
A Review by Rebecca Kambuta, Otago University, New Zealand Over the past two decades, makeover programming has become increasingly popular. Today, transformation narratives dominate prime-time television schedules and, as a result, these programmes have become the subject of much scholarly debate. Recent works include Dana Heller's two edited collections, The Great American Makeover (2006) and Makeover Television (2007), and Gareth Palmer's Exposing Lifestyle Television (2008). Research in this
more » ... field focuses on several key areas including the history of the makeover format (from Ovid's Pygmalion to the magazine and television makeover), the link between makeover programming and consumer culture, and the role of gender, class and identity within the makeover text. Unlike makeover programmes, filmic transformations have received surprisingly little attention. In fact, until now, to my knowledge, Elizabeth Ford and Deborah Mitchell's, The Makeover in Movies: Before and After in Hollywood Films (2004) is the only book-length study completed on the subject. Tamar Jeffers McDonald's book, Hollywood Catwalk (2010), is, therefore, a welcome and much-needed addition to this under-researched field. In Hollywood Catwalk, Jeffers McDonald examines the costume-an obvious, but often overlooked, aspect of the (filmic) transformation narrative. She explores the role costume plays in the transformation process; how clothes function as an index of one's identity; and how changing one's clothes can reveal one's "true" or inner character. Hollywood Catwalk is well structured, easy to read and informative. It includes much new material and serves as an excellent example of how to analyse film.
doi:10.33178/alpha.2.09 fatcat:x26mfdxtk5bblbsednlkgvclay