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Fashion Media

Alex Munt & Susie Khamis

This special issue of Scan explores the transformation of fashion media in the digital era. In less than five years, bloggers like The Sartorialist, Susie Bubble and Garance Doré have redefined how fashion is captured and critiqued. Harnessing the DIY charm and reach of new media technologies, the new guard's engagement with 'street style' has shifted the fashion gaze from the traditional staples of the runway and magazine media. At the same time designers, both established and avant-garde, exploit new ways to reach audiences on new media interfaces, across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Second Life. Karl Lagerfeld shows his wit on Twitter; Marc Jacobs snubs front-row celebrities for live internet streaming of the catwalk; and Chanel hires Scorsese for a new 'fragrance film'. 'Fashion Media 2.0' thus challenges the hegemony of the iconic still through explorations in the moving image. This issue considers some of these ways in which new technologies are making fashion media far more accessible, voyeuristic and exciting than it has ever been. However, as much as these shifts signpost seminal changes in the mediation of fashion, the articles presented here reveal a complex field of both breaks and continuities, and find that, for all the flux in fashion media, some perennial tensions persist: between creativity and control, art and commerce, sales and spectacle.

Susie Khamis and Alex Munt take a broad view of convergent fashion media, across the blogosphere, new fashion film and interactive web media, and find new fashion media at the nexus of creativity and control. This article has been adapted from a talk on these issues given for the Sydney Design Festival, at the Powerhouse Museum in 2010.

In 'Flâneurs of Fashion 2.0', Jess Berry extends the discussion of street-style blogs and draws a correlation between the contemporary flâneurs of fashion online and their nineteenth century counterparts. Berry makes a case for the increasing democratisation of fashion in today's electronic space.

Maura Edmond examines music video as an under-represented form of fashion media. With a detailed case study of Lady Gaga's fashion-driven music video Telephone, she reframes the history of fashion spectacle in terms of the 'aesthetics of attraction' and female visual pleasure.

Jacque Lynn Foltyn asks 'Is fashion something to die for?' in an examination of skull style and 'corpse chic', as a prevalent fashion narrative today (of skulls, skeletons, corpses and simulations of murder, suicide and eco-disaster). Foltyn dissects the underbelly of fashion media and the globalisation of death culture in this domain.

Helen Warner negotiates the entertainment trade press to examine the relationship between the fashion industry and screen media forms, across film and television. Her focus is toward the dynamics of change in celebrity culture, and more specifically the female celebrity/fashion icon.

Stacy Anderson provides the first information article for this issue, on 'collaborative spaces' forged between leading fashion brands and global architects. Her examples include: Prada with Rem Koolhaas/Herzog & De Meuron; Hermes with Renzo Piano and Chanel with Zaha Hadid.

In her information article, Phylis Johnson reviews the state of fashion machinima today, and discusses the role of this new media form in sustaining 'virtual fashionista' culture within the virtual worlds of Second Life.

We would like to thank our contributors to this special issue, as well as John Potts and Steve Collins for their assistance.