The Mark of the Beast: Branding the Cinematic Body
Dr Jonathan Faiers
This paper considers the importance of the monogram in fashion history, specifically how it has been deployed in film costume. The monogram is often featured in films as an indication of instability, badge of guilt (as originally conceived in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter) or ironically as an indicator of multiple identities. A central cinematic example will be the use of monogrammed clothing in the costumes worn by Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven where her psychological instability, father fixation and jealous love leads to murder. Other films that use the monogram will include Rebecca Desk Set, Strangers on a Train and more recently the ironic reference to Louis Vuitton’s distinctive logo as represented in Madeline Kahn’s matching costumes, accessories and automobile in Mel Brook’s High Anxiety. The concept of the monogram or logo as either a badge of shame or mark of the obsessive will naturally lead onto a discussion of the importance of logos in contemporary luxury branding, how these function psychologically for the consumer and how their reception and consumption is shifting in the context of the current global recession.