Fashion’s Audio Visual Gestalt
Photography is the principal medium for documenting and expressing fashion. But film is the only medium that portrays the fall, flow and form of garments; the step and gait of shoes; the light, weight and movement of accessories. Encompassing all art forms in an audio visual gestalt, film is able to succinctly express a label’s complete artistic vision and reference inspirations. Some designers and labels are already way ahead of the curve.
Thom Browne’s installation at the Pitti Uomo menswear fair earlier this year was captured as a celebrated fashion film, simply evoking a 60’s business style reminiscent of Mad Men. The production design is impeccable. 40 identically dressed models arrive for work with military precision to antique typewriters on sparse clerks’ desks. The Istituto di Scienze Militari Aeronatiche in Florence provided the perfect location, with its parquetry floors and art deco design unchanged since it was built in 1938.
My favorite fashion film remains 24hrs, an epic series of innovative visual motifs for Yves saint Laurent in 2007, with a unique video for every hour of the day. SHOWstudio called for YSL admirers to submit treatments for each hour’s section and shot it live for broadcast on BBC and streaming from YSL’s website.
Oyster Magazine, the Australian based international fashion mag, launched Oystervision in early 2007 as an online video channel for fashion. As with its magazine counterpart, Oystervision covers emerging designers and major fashion events, but also produces fashion films for designers and labels who want an audio visual gestalt of their own. Established by colleague/buddy Alex Goddard, I helped out with the early episodes, covering Gail Sorronda’s debut show and Kit Willow’s wickedly sexy Helmut Newton inspired lingerie installation.
on productions did a seasonal retrospective for fashion retailer Barkins called “Dollhouses”. A distinct fashion film was created from footage originally shot for the year’s TVCs, using a technique I developed called “composicam”. (From our fashion showreel – the 1st minute 30 seconds is Barkins “Dollhouses”, the rest is RAFW 2008).
FASHION FILM FOIBLES?
Fashion films generally disappoint in their online implementation, where they ultimately draw most eyes. Most fashion films are simply embedded into the label’s website, on a functional yet uninspired page. With their virtual salon, Viktor & Rolf demonstrated that streaming video and website should be aesthetically harmonious. The online experience need not be elaborate and expensive, if the website is an elegant expression of the label’s style, the fashion film should be produced to complement it.
YouTube is also curiously neglected by labels with fashion films. There may be a marketing rationale for restricting video to the label’s website, like maintaining exclusivity or controlling consumer traffic. But YouTube has vast potential to augment the audience for fashion film and increase the label’s exposure. YouTube has a built in audience that will broaden the reach of a fashion film and enable easy sharing. Labels can generate additional traffic to their website by linking back from their YouTube channel, which equates to revenue for transactional sites. The ability to freely embed video encourages blogs (like Vogue’s blogs worldwide) and online publications to further spread fashion film. YouTube serves as a social media platform, a means of engaging admirers/fans/customers and encouraging conversation. And that is, like so hot right now.
Julian Cole wrote a great rundown on 15 fashion retailers successfully employing social media strategies in his blog Adspace Pioneers.