Woody Allen, ‘Style Guru’? Costuming the middle classes, anti-fashion as aspirational fashion in Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 3, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2044-2823
  • E-ISSN: 2044-2831



This article examines costume and class in the films of Woody Allen, with a focus on anti-fashion as aspirational middle-class costume, using two recent and notable examples from Allen’s European-tour oeuvre. We consider the tension between the bland, yet curiously compelling costuming of the middle classes in Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and Midnight in Paris (2011) and explore how the mundane costumes of the bourgeoisie in these films are upheld in the press and by audiences as fashionable and desirable. We place our analysis in relation to the work of Gaines, Bruzzi and Warner to highlight the audience appeal of the costume that, whilst unspectacular, represents an aspirational dress code that is unrelated to specific trends or designers. Our argument is twofold: first, that anti-fashion in film is a trope of the middle class, which is limited in range and personality and is positioned in the narrow margin between bourgeois aspirational dress codes and expressive bohemianism. Second, we contend that the costume is both anti-fashion and, paradoxically, fashionable and desirable through association with Allen’s rarefied world of urban intellectualism. This article addresses a need to explore the lack of analysis in costume studies on middle-class costume in cinema.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): anti-fashion; audience; bohemian; cinema; costume; fashion; middle class
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