When I first started my fashion film festival in 2008, somehow I instinctively knew that A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF) would fill a much needed creative gap. I guess it was because I understood there was already an audience waiting to be served. But what I could never have anticipated was just how quickly the cross-over between fashion and film would evolve from wild experimentation into a bona fide art form and a valuable commercial outlet. To begin with, I think the ‘fashion film’ was born out of a real need to breathe life into the old static medium and set fashion in motion through the magic of cinema. What ASVOFF does is to give people in both industries – and talented outsiders too – a platform to let this genre flourish. Hopefully, by rewarding excellence in the field, it also keeps pushing them to push the boundaries forward too.
I studied film in university with an emphasis on documentaries. I’ve been making low-fi fashion films for more than a decade and in the end of the 90s I thought that it would be great to put together a fashion film festival. The timing was not quite right, as there was not enough material out there to really constitute a festival. In 2006 Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto commissioned me to make a road movie for the launch of his menswear line. The idea was to document the Gumball 3000, which was a car rally that went 3,000 miles in 6 days. In the end I made an 18-minute film. I showed my film to the Los Angeles correspondent to my blog (www.asvof.com) and he asked if I wanted to screen it out there. The very day after that, my Mexico City correspondent Enrique Gonzales, sent me his fashion film and we decided instead of just screening my 18 minute film why not unearth my old idea, and put together a fashion film festival. To call it a film festival was a bit of an exaggeration as it was a 3-hour projection at Cinespace on Hollywood Boulevard and consisted of films from SHOWstudio, Bernhard Willhelm, Jeremy Scott and some of my films – a mix of short and medium length films.
In the beginning no one had any idea what a fashion film was.
In the past few years the entire industry has picked up on the idea that the best way to express the atmosphere of their brand and to reach the widest audience without any sell-out date, was to produce a fashion film. The luxury brands like YSL, Prada, Chanel picked up on this early on as did the lesser-known brands like Boudicca, Bernhard Willhelm, Jeremy Scott. In 2008 I created ASVOFF and with the help of my co-producer, David Herman, turned the one-day fashion film curation into a 3-day fashion film festival.
Five years later, the two disciplines have grown even closer thanks to the incredible impact of the digital revolution, new commercial realities and a mutual fascination between fashion and film industry leaders. But it’s not only that. As online, tablet and smartphone media channels grow ever more important, ‘fashion film’ is also filling important business niches and offering artistic solutions to challenges we could never have imagined even a few years ago. It’s also creating totally new, sometimes unexpected opportunities as it goes along. ‘Fashion film’ makes perfect sense in today’s world where we have the live streaming of catwalk shows, click-to-buy video e-commerce functionality, behind-the-scenes and fly-on-the-wall fashion brand documentaries – not to mention video ads spreading virally like wild fire through social media networks. There’s something in the bigger picture too, you know. Fashion is still a hot topic for reality TV shows; there are biopics of fashion designers coming out left, right and centre; designers are moonlighting as Hollywood film directors – and actresses as designers. I don’t think there has ever been a better moment for a festival like ASVOFF than now.
Of course fashion films have been around since William Klein gave us ‘Who Are You Polly Magoo’ in the 60s and in the late 70’s Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton and Serge Lutins created amazing fashion films for advertising. The history of fashion film dates back decades ago but it has only been in the last few years that the medium has virtually exploded. The idea of ASVOFF is to give a platform for emerging and established directors and brands. Frankly I find the classic catwalk format a bit “last century”. With the exception of a few shows like Rick Owens, Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe and Haider Ackermann, I think a film and an installation often arouses something more inspirational; reaches a wider audience and expands the market immensely. Although the fashion industry looks like it changes at a rapid pace on the surface, fundamentally its anachronistic. It’s not about to let a big part itself which supports the livelihood of so many people from show producers, models, photographers, hair and make-up…to disappear. I think it would be more interesting to make fashion shows a form of entertainment for the public where the audience would pay and they would be happening at the same time that the clothes were actually on sale at the shops. For the rest of us in the business, installations and fashion films are far more modern, practical and fresh. In fashion films, the designer has more control of his work and costs can be more easily controlled. What interests me the most is the interaction between the fashion element and the power of cinema.
As for setting up the blog: A Shaded View on Fashion was one of the first fashion blogs and was created in February 2005. When I started it I used a software called lifeblogging, remember this was years before twitter existed. Lifeblogging was a software that allowed you to instantaneously broadcast , you know take a photo, write a text and it was on your blog. Later on I realized that posting pictures, texts and other media with my mobile phone wasn’t only extremely expensive, but that the quality of the footage wasn’t high enough. Since then I make the posts using a digital camera.
One of the most important moments for ASVOF was in September 2006, when Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto commissioned me to make a road movie of the brand’s men’s wear launch and as well as making a documentary film I life-blogged the entire journey from London to Monte Carlo. This film was the impulse behind the launch of my first fashion film festival ‘You Wear it Well” which she co-curated with her LA correspondent and was launched in Los Angeles at CineSpace in August, 2006. In 2008 I founded and curated A Shaded View On Fashion Film (ASVOFF) a traveling international event built upon a competition of short fashion, style and beauty films. For its Paris launch, ASVOFF took the form of a full festival showcasing feature films, documentaries, conferences, performances and installations.