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July 26 2014

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1 posts tagged "Polly Maggoo?"

Diane Pernet Loves Film, Fashion, and Zoolander

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diane-pernetFashion film is a curious genre. Oftentimes, the Style.com team is confronted with the typical pitch: a short little flick featuring haunting indie music, a pensive-looking model, a vintage bohemian ambiance, and, of course, a new collection. Sure, there are great ones (as evidenced by our Video Fashion Week series, which wrapped today), but more often than not, they’re cheesy and lacking in both plot and substance. However, according to former designer, renowned journalist, and A Shaded View on Fashion Film Festival founder Diane Pernet, this breed of cinematography is not fashion film at all. “Just because you’ve used a movie camera doesn’t mean you’ve made a film,” Pernet told Style.com. And she would know. Having launched her famed Paris-based festival in 2008 (it gets its name from her blog, A Shaded View on Fashion), Pernet now sorts through more than five hundred cinematic submissions each year before curating the lineup of films to be shown (and judged) during her grand event. As you can imagine, she’s seen the bad, the terrible, but also the spectacular.

Last weekend, thanks to a little help from the French Institute Alliance Française and Kering, Pernet brought New York its first taste of ASVOFF. She screened the festival’s greatest hits by the likes of Bruce Weber, Ellen von Unwerth, and Mike Figgis with the hopes of inspiring and enlightening her stateside fans. There was no competition element this time around, but Pernet, who’s as well known for her marvelously outré noir uniform as for her widespread work in sartorial cinema, hinted that she hopes to bring the full-fledged festival to the Big Apple next year. Also on her docket? The launch of a trio of perfumes, which debut on Style.com’s Beauty Counter this afternoon. Here, Pernet talks to Style.com about the role of fashion film, her frustration with runway shows, and why fashion flicks are so rarely taken seriously.

Oftentimes, fashion film is not taken seriously. Why do you think that is?

I think the reason it’s not taken seriously is that a lot of fashion photographers making films aren’t filmmakers. It’s their agents who are telling them, “You’d better get a video camera and you’d better make a film because that’s where it’s at.” And a film director has to think of so many different elements that you don’t think about in a frozen image. So a big problem is that some fashion photographers have a hard time making the segue. Of course, there are people who have made a nice entry, like Bruce Weber or Ellen von Unwerth who have been doing it for over a decade, or newer people like Steven Meisel, Steven Klein, and Inez & Vinoodh. But a lot of photographers are just making fashion photo shoots that move. That’s not a film. It’s a fashion shoot in motion and that’s not interesting. Not interesting to me, anyway.

A lot of fashion films that we see are almost a parody of themselves, with the indie music, the “deep in thought” models, the vintage vibe…With that in mind, what does it take to make a compelling fashion film?

I always use this as an example because it’s something everybody knows: A Therapy, Roman Polanski’s 2012 film for Prada. That’s an excellent fashion film. I personally like a narrative. I think you need a narrative if you’re going to hold somebody’s interest for three minutes. CO’s She Said, She Said [2013] by Stuart Blumberg, which won best acting in my festival, is a great example. It had a wonderful story. After my festival at Centre Pompidou, I got an e-mail from a digital person at LVMH that said, “Now that is a great way to show fashion.” Fashion film is not about just selling the product—it’s about creating an atmosphere. It’s a story. A great fashion film needs the same criteria as a feature film. Does it take you somewhere? Does it have some kind of emotion? And humor is always great. People in fashion need humor.

Does it upset you that so many brands are dubbing these moving photo shoots “fashion films”?

I get about five hundred submissions [for my festival] every year, and an awful lot are in that category. I think people still don’t have a grip on what a fashion film is—they still believe that if someone’s moving in front of the camera, it’s a film. So that’s a little depressing, but it’s getting better. People are starting to realize that it’s not about, like, here’s the shoe, here’s the dress, here’s this. It’s not an animated lookbook, for God’s sake. It’s a film.

Do you think that fashion film can stand on its own as an art form, or will its primary purpose always be to showcase a product?

I think it can stand on its own. There are a lot of fashion films that are made by actual filmmakers that are not just about a product, even when it is for a product. We have to move away from [product-centric fashion films] because they’re not very interesting. You want something that’s going to make you think. It’s just not about being pretty—it’s got to be more than that.

You were really the first major champion of fashion film. How did you come to be so passionate about it?

Well, my background is in film. That’s what I have my degree in, and I’ve always loved film and I’ve always loved fashion. I think from the first Walt Disney movie I saw in a drive-in, the fantasy of films just captured me. And as far as clothing, I was a designer for thirteen years. I think the real seed of it, though, was planted when I moved to Paris at the end of 1990. My first job was working on a feature film as a costume designer, and I realized how directors are really afraid of fashion. Of course, some directors, like David Lynch and Peter Greenaway, got it. But most are afraid that the fashions are going to take too much importance. But really, fashion is supporting the character, and it can be very subtle. Most directors just don’t understand fashion or they don’t give it the credit that it really warrants. That really made me think about the relationship between fashion and film.

Do you think the fact that directors like Martin Scorsese and Wes Anderson, who have made films for Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, respectively, have elevated the practice to higher regard?

Absolutely. That’s why we like to always have one of our films presented at Cannes because we want more directors like that to be involved. I just met Alejandro Jodorowsky’s son, Adan Jodorowsky, who made this incredible film, The Voice Thief [2013], with Asia Argento. We’re going to put it in the next edition of ASVOFF. I want to always raise the bar, and I want more real directors. I think that’s important.

Do you think that something originally pegged as a fashion film could evolve into something that ends up being a mainstream feature?

Yeah, I hope so. I’d love that. And why not? Take Wes Anderson. I haven’t seen The Grand Budapest Hotel yet. But I think there are directors whose features you can call fashion films. We had William Klein two years ago as a special guest, and that film, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? [1996], was a fashion film. Or what about Zoolander [2001]? I love Zoolander. That’s a fashion film. I thought it was really interesting. And I love some documentaries, like the one on Diana Vreeland, The Eye Has to Travel [2011]. I loved that film. I thought it was really inspiring.

How do fashion films make us look at garments differently than a fashion photograph or a runway show does?

Fashion films are a dream. They’re all about desire. You’re seeing the garment in 3-D. I love a frozen image, too, so I’m not against print. I think there’s a value to that, and they can be something really beautiful. Fashion films are just another way to show fashion—not the only way. I’m not saying that fashion films are going to take over runway shows, because they’ve always been the most efficient way to show fashion, even though now, I think, for the most part they look pretty last century. I don’t think that will change right away.

Do you think it should change? Should we move away from runway shows?

I’d be happier to see more films and installations. I think so many fashion shows shouldn’t even happen. You spend so much time going from one end [of a city] to the other just to see things walking up and down the runway. If you’re going to take us somewhere, like Alexander McQueen used to or like [John] Galliano did in his day, or sometimes other designers like Rick Owens or Haider Ackermann do, there’s something special and emotional about a show. There’s a mood. But I don’t see that a lot anymore. I’ve talked to Rick Owens about this, and he likes the “tribe” experience of a show, but if you ask me, the main point of a lot of these fashion shows now is just to see who’s sitting in what row. I mean, who cares? I think they’re not necessary.

Photo: Courtesy Photo