In Threads and Tatters: Costume, Identification and Female Subjectivity in Mulholland Dr.

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Lynda Chapple


This arrticle  explores the instability and trauma implicit in the representation of the female image in David Lynch’s Mulholland Dr. (2001), and more especially the ways in which this links to the clothing worn by the two female protagonists.  By examining the role of mourning and nostalgia, the figure of the amnesiac, the complex pairing, doubling and splitting of the characters of the two female leads, and the relationship of these to identification, it will argue that the costuming practices in this film exemplify a crisis of identification within a specifically feminine cinematic image. The costumes represent an approximation of self; they work as devices that desperately attempt to secure some form of identity, doubling and mirroring the self in a vain, ultimately failed, attempt to fix the female subject and resolve her ontological ambiguity. Within a cinematic context, such a failure represents the breakdown of a central and defining paradigm and raises questions concerning the stability of concepts such as subjectivity and identification.

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