Thoughts Out Loud: Fashion Films

Fashion films are not exactly a new type of film, and yet the definition and concept of fashion film are still foreign to most people. Indonesia’s fashion designers, for example, are not yet aware about the importance of these thing, although there are some younger designers such as Nikicio who already created a couple of fashion film for her collection (one of them is for AW2013, dir.Ryoichi Adityo Hutomo). Fashion Films itself can range from an aesthetic art form to capture a designer point of view of a collection, a product promotion, an editorial, or a narrative which is brought to live by costumes and fashion.
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David Fincher ‘DOWNTOWN’. Calvin Klein. 2013. (watch)

So, for the last part of the September’s Fashion and Films on KaramelKinema, let’s take a look at Fashion Films.

It is hard to pinpoint when is the first Fashion Film started, but we can all agree that the world of films and fashion collided as early as the 1930s or even earlier. Alice Guy-Blanché’s short documentaries (such as 1896 Danse Serpentine and 1900 Danse du Papillon) of dances in elaborate costumes can become an inspiration that is reintroduced by Ruth Hogben’s fashion films for Gareth Pugh. Showcasing the designers aesthetic point of view over narrative of the film itself.
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The rise of fashion film itself began in 2000, when Nick Knight established SHOWstudio as an incubator for fashion films and to bridge the gap between fashion and the Internet, pioneering the fashion film. Since 2009, fashion films also become a more attractive form for auteur filmmaker to experiment with their arts, because the genre did not have time constraints, not tied down to narrative, and can be a wonderful explorative opportunity because there’s almost no rule to approach a concept. Artistic freedom is guaranteed and become one of the appeal of fashion films. In 2012, a festival to celebrate fashion through cinema was established in Berlin coincide with the city’s fashion week. The festival is known as Berlin Fashion Film Festival, and they accept submission from around the globe and on its 2nd year it had received more than 500 videos before narrowing it down for the competition. (go to their website to see 2013 and 2012 winners and stream the videos).
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FASHION AUTEUR DIRECTING. We all must remember 2009 film ‘A Single Man‘ which was a debut feature film of Gucci Fashion editor and household name Tom Ford, an adaptation from Christopher Isherwood novel under the same name. The film not only featured great performances by Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, and Nicholas Hoult. It also has arresting visual courtesy of Ford’s own aesthetic. The film was financed privately by Ford to ensure his creative freedom. Ford is not the only fashion designers who tried his hand in directing, but probably the most successful. Christian Loubutin directed a promotional short film called ‘Psycho-logic’ in 2011, based on Hitchcock’s Psycho and featured one of his signature red-soled high heels as the murderers weapon. Karl Lagerfeld had created three short films, ‘Remember Now’ (2010), ‘The Tale of The Fairy’ (2011) and most recently ‘Once Upon A Time’ (2013).
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AUTEUR DIRECTOR IN FASHION FILMS. Fashion is definitely a lucrative business and the most high-end brand can commission film directors to direct their brand fashion films. It can be a 22 seconds commercial to a 22 minute short films. Of course this is not limited to the most luxury brands, Proenza Schouler for example, hired Harmony Korine to direct two short for their fashion house  – Act da Fool (2010) and Snowballs (2011).  Kenneth Anger, an experimental filmmaker whose works caught the eye of Jean Cocteau in the 1950s, recently created a short film for Missoni.
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Bigger fashion hauses such as Dior commissioned several directors to collaborate on their series of commercial for Lady Dior handbag featuring Marion Cotillard. Including John Cameron Mitchell series of ‘Lady Grey London’, ‘L.A.dy Dior’, and ‘Lady Dior Moscow’, as well as several other series (‘Lady Noire Affair’, ‘Lady Rouge’), and David Lynch 16-minute long ‘Lady Blue Shanghai’. Miss Dior Cherié perfume commercial directed by Sofia Coppola feature a unique signature of her style.  Joe Wright who directed Atonement, reunites with Keira Knightley, in a commercial for Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle perfume. Martin Scorsese’s 2010 Bleu De Chanel 1 minute commercial featuring Gaspard Uliel, packed a powerful visual without sacrificing narrative. But the most jaw-dropping commercial was Baz Luhrmann Chanel No.5 commercial in 2004 which was made using $18 million dollar budget that would be enough to finance a film! The commercial give a nod to his 2001 Moulin Rouge, feature Nicole Kidman and Rodrigo Santoro, a very elaborate set and visual effects, plus custom made dresses and jewelry pieces.
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CREME DE LA CREME. The best fashion films from the big fashion house probably come from the house of Prada. With a 2010 short from Yang Fudong  that capture the essence of their SS2010 collection, offering both aesthetic and narratives at the same time. Roman Polanski directed a short called ‘A Therapy’ as the brand advertisement, featuring Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Kingsley. The 4-minute short deliver a strong narrative, while still infusing the brand philosophy though the performances of the actors. And of course, i have to mentioned a collaboration with Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for 2013 Prada Candy L’Eau fragrance commercial which features Lea Seydoux. The commercial also won the Best Film for major brand as well as Best Production Design at the 2013 Berlin Fashion Film Festival.
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IN CONCLUSION. Fashion Films are exciting to look out because they offer a different artistic approach as well as an abundance of artistic freedom than regular cinema. It is fun to see how fashion and film goes hand in hand and see how the filmmaker manage to fuse between narratives and aesthetic. Even if you do not care for much of the artistry and fashion, seeing your favorite director collaborates with certain brand would be amusing, wouldn’t it?

Last but not least these are some of the titles that i found amusing and worth checking out.

PRADA ‘Candy L’Eau’ | 2013 | Wes Anderson
PRADA First Spring | 2010 | Yang Fudong
CHANEL ‘Bleu De Chanel’ | 2010 | Martin Scorsese
PRADA ‘A Therapy’ | 2012 | Roman Polanski
SHOWstudio ‘Primal Scream’ | 2013 | Rei Nadal
Odditory | 2013 | Monica Menez
Free People ‘Roshambo’ Series No1 No2 No3 | 2013 | Guy Aroch and Jonathan Doe

and just because:
GQ SPAIN ‘Mine’ Editorial | 2013 | Alvaro De La Herrán NSFW
(Inspired by 50 Shades of Grey, wonder if the film would be this kinky?)
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One thought on “Thoughts Out Loud: Fashion Films

  1. Pingback: Monthly Digest: 2013 September | KaramelKinema

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