Masquerade costume

The Dogon people of Mali perform ceremonial dances dressed in striking masks and costumes. One such dance honours the dead: every morning and evening for up to six days, masqueraders dance in the village and surrounding fields – even on the deceased’s rooftop. Today, the Dogon also perform dances to entertain tourists.

Collection Connections 

How do you use clothing to change your role or identity?

responded: Jan 27, 2012

Posted by Janine

Recommend this Response
Clothing is influential of peoples’ first impressions; moreover it affects the wearer dramatically. While clothing is a creative outlet for people to represent themselves, it can also transform a person; costume is a faultless example of this. In the Changeling (2008) behind-the-scenes, Angelina Jolie states that the 1920’s costumes worn in the film assisted her to become further engrossed in her character (leading to an Oscar nomination for Best Actress). Another example is Batman Returns’ (1992) Cat Woman; Michelle Pfeiffer begins as a reserved secretary, then her persona morphs and her costume becomes a black leather bodysuit, giving rise to a dangerous femme fatale. While Jolie’s character was influenced by wardrobe, Pfeiffer’s character created her costume as an outlet for her angst. While the effects of clothing are clearly depicted through film and Broadway, this literal interpretation of costume formulates stereotypical views. Women will wear a gown and suddenly feel as though they are princesses, and even as children they played dress up and would associate their dress with the characters in the Disney movie. Also, a black leather bodysuit screams sex appeal or is linked with dominatrix. It is interesting that through certain relations people will feel differently depending on the clothes they don. When I wear some of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe, I think I exude more confidence and am comfortable. If I am wearing something I don’t have strong correlation with I tend to suffer from shyness and awkwardness – it is all about, “being comfortable in your own shoes.” I definitely cater my clothes to my mood, or activities that day. There is a precedent surrounding clothing, as there are certain expectations for dress; for example, if you work in an office environment it may be business casual. Attending a fashion school has certain expectations for style, I know if I am dressed in lounge wear and tell someone I am in fashion it is slightly embarrassing. Clothing can evoke characteristics within a person, or be an outlet for expressing oneself as an individual, and this influences your role or creates an identity that others draw conclusions upon.

Elements of this site may require Flash player 8