Archive for SHOWstudio

Fashion Film, the new surrealism?

Posted in Fashion, Videontology with tags , , , on November 26, 2009 by re: turn on

Real fashion film isn’t just an afterthought, a mere video of a catwalk show or installation, it must stand on its own as a representation of the designer’s vision and inspiration. Some fashion films are triumphs of experimental film, like Luis Bunuel with a HiDef camera.

A Shaded View on Fashion Film started in Paris and now travels the world for fashion weeks in Seoul, London and Tokyo.

Gareth Pugh’s fashion film for his Autumn/Winter collection took top honours last month at A Shaded View on Fashion Film, produced by leading fashion film creators ShowStudio. The very definition of austere; a silhouetted outfit billows in black over a white background, a model’s hair dissolves to ink (a popular visual at the moment, as seen in the latest Nissan TVC), lots of treadmill model walking and the hackneyed old mirrored split screen. These visual motifs have been done better before. The opening silhouette zooms into full frame with the feet distractingly cut off, there are some clunky cross-fades and the ink is unconvincingly composited and masked. When filming an ink drop into water, the water ripples cause the image of the ink drop to shake. An image stabilization in post is usually required to correct the water ripple, but is noticeably absent here, so there’s a stable model and an incongruously shaky ink drop.

However, the ‘slice’ motif is pretty cool, first appearing subtly at 40 seconds with variations occurring throughout. At 5 minutes 41 seconds the film visually switches to an under-illuminated series of still poses and understated movements lit by a single swinging lamp just out of frame. Its a lovely counterpoint to the over-lit cyclorama that precedes and follows.

But there’s the distinct impression that this was a “shoot first, ask questions later” kind of production, where the director had only a vague notion of how she wanted the finished film to look when directing the shoot. Fashion films are free to be a visually experimental mindfuck, but if the only connective tissue is the designer’s garments, audience interest will be limited to the fashion community. Connective tissue is woven in a script outlining a concrete theme, without that your stuck bullshitting your way through post-production. I don’t see why fashion films, even those ostensibly intended for the catwalk, shouldn’t transcend the fashionista demo. Luis Bunuel brought surrealist cinema to the mainstream with Un chien Andalou in 1929, a palimpsest of social and religious iconography sketched with a thick ink of existential dread. Similarly expressionistic, fashion film can be a contemporary aeolian harp played by the winds of our malaise and aspirations. ShowStudio and YSL’s 24hrs is proof its possible.


Fashion’s Audio Visual Gestalt

Posted in Fashion, Videontology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2009 by re: turn on

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 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.