Clothing has a major impact on the way we perceive reality. But it plays an equally crucial role in the way we perceive things that, in spite of what Jean Luc Godart said (‘Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world’), are only partially unreal; such as movies.
Although historic precision is impossible and disastrous in the dramatic art, as an 18th-century critic said, there is a path we can follow to explain the use of garments as a different means of exchanging information. The origin of theatre and therefore theatre costume is believed to be the greek Dionysia, a large festival in ancient Athens in honor of the god Dionysus, the god of wine; a mythological entity that is ‘’neither a child nor a man, he is rather an eternal teenager’’ and represents playfulness and energy. The dissembler or actor used to wear a mask and a costume analogous to his authority. Costumes were elaborate, heavy and imposing, and would be used to distinguish people based on their age (younger ones wearing knee-length tunics and older people ankle-length ones), and comedy from tragedy (in comedy they preferred soft shoes allowing them to move freely and in tragedy, roans projecting the god’s brutish side). Masks helped identify one’s gender, age, and mental state, and provoked the desirable emotions from the audience.
As theatre’s goal is the creation of inner, self-contained criteria of plausibility, the play itself does not, in fact, symbolizes a certain reality, but it creates reality through its conventions, so from the very beginning people used codes that were functional both in theatre and in everyday life. In the sphere of a ‘theatrum mundi’, that portrays the world as a theatre wherein people are characters and their actions form a drama, Richard Sennett said that as people imagined garments to be an indication of resourcefulness, decoration, and convention, the body was used as a mannequin rather than an expressive, alive creature, and clothing as a precise indication of social class and more.