As a journalist said about McQueen’s F/W2006 fashion film ‘The witches of Culloden’ it projects,’ the wizardry of fashion and its ability to move the spirit.’ Fashion films can create a bigger theatrical spectacle which is more than just showing the garments at a catwalk, you instead become privy to background knowledge of the collection, increased awareness of the feel and mood of the designer which I feel is central to becoming interested and therefore excited by the collection.However, this is not a recent fashion sensation as Poiret in 1911 shot a promotional film which included full history of the designs and footage of his famous ‘mannequins’ kitted out in his designs which he took on tour with him to show off his designs. Couturier Norman Hartnell released film named ‘Making fashion’ shot by Humpray Jennings in 1938 for S/S collection which similar to Poiret showed how garments were prepared and his inspiration a kind of behind the scenes look from a leading designer.
This is different from fashion films of today as they are not so focused on being commercials of design but more interested in projecting film as body of art, this I feel can be traced back to Erwin Blumenfeld who from 1958 to 64 shot fashion films which experimented with body distortions, design, kaleidoscopic framing and college techniques all in a way to enhance the body with movement.
In the 70s and 80s fashion photographers Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton who previously were both known for shooting fashion models with dramatic movements as to look like shot a captured moment in time, it gave the image the aesthetic of a film still. They were motivated by how body transforms and moves when adorned, and as fashion as a mobile, dynamic entity.
They became involved with Japanese brand Jun Rope and between them directed fashion films that were truly innovative and focused on garments as an expression of art.
Since Spring London Fashion Week in 1990 when designers such as Rifat Ozbek, Jasper Conran and Anthony Price decided to show fashion film instead of catwalk presentation some of my favourite designers such as Hussein Chalayan, McQueen, Gareth Pugh all have made fashion films.
Margiela F/W 1998
Hussein Chalayan S/S 2008
Gareth Pugh Fall 2009
To the future I don’t think the catwalk will be replaced totally with fashion films they will instead be incorporated as an extra inclusive entity to showcase the designer’s collection. What I do think though is they will become more artistic, innovative and entertaining to compete with the garments they have to make them come alive through the lens creating an all encompassing visual 3D spectacle.