“The Parisian Light?” The myth of superiority signified by the imagery of the fashion cities

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Conference Proceeding

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Paris, Hong Kong fashion image production, Participant observation


Paris, the capital of fashion world, has long been a signification of stylishness and sophistication in relationship to fashion, where a sense of ‘superiority’ will emerge with endless fascinations for the imaginary of the city. The myth of such 'superiority' association with Paris, or namely the fashion cities, has a predominant influence to the fashion image production elsewhere such as Hong Kong. Numerous images produced by Hong Kong fashion media portray the impression of a ‘Western look’, or the ‘Parisian light’, a jargon coined by local fashion media for the metaphor of the ‘light’ shedding from Paris that instantly upgrades an image with superiority. Hence, the ‘Parisian light’ implies a hidden code of practice for the local fashion media, as if the impression of Western fashion imagery represents a higher standard for aesthetic expression and creative value, and serves as an inspiration for fashion image production. Given numerous previous studies discussed on the influence of Paris on fashion, it is a neglected area in the academic field on the discourse of linking fashion cites to fashion image production especially in the local context; and how the rePresentation of 'Western look' is achieved through the re-interpretation during the local fashion image production process. This study discusses the cultural interpretation of the fashion cities as symbolic icons of high fashion from the perspective of local fashion media; and how the local fashion brands, editors, image producers negotiate to an agreement, taking the metaphor of 'Parisian light', to create cultural meaning to the readers of the local markets. This study adopted participant observation approach of two fashion shoot projects in Paris, and followed by the in-depth interviews with fashion image producers, to investigate the notion of the recreating a Western fashion image by the fashion media in Hong Kong. The researcher has been appointed by a local fashion magazine, MilkX, as the fashion stylist to manage two fashion shoots in Paris. The fashion shoots were commissioned by two brands, a French contemporary fashion label and a leading jewellery brand in Hong Kong. Data were collected during the fieldwork from the pre-production negotiation with the brands and the production team, during the fashion shooting in Paris, and the post-production interviews. The observations were interpreted in terms of cultural and fashion theories to unveil the myth of the ‘Parisian light’. The research findings indicated that the practice of shooting projects in Hong Kong fashion media follows some conventional codes of cultural rePresentation of Paris. The notion of Paris as ‘the fashion city’ is deeply rooted in image producers' mind in Hong Kong. The negotiation process between the image production team and the two brands' representatives revealed a power hierarchy influencing the creativity of image production. The finding is significant to both branding and academic fields. From branding perspective, the finding provides insight from insiders' view in understanding the power of cultural meaning in the creative process of brand images. On academic side, this is a pioneering study to examine the cities' identity on the influence of fashion image production in Hong Kong. This result lays a foundation for further study on the site of image production in visual communication for fashion from the Eastern perspective.

Source Publication

Proceedings of CONTEMPHOTO’16, III International Visual Culture and Contemporary Photography on Identity Issues in Relation to Photographic Image and Visual Culture

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