Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season

LONDON, United Kingdom — This season, fashion brands embraced fashion film like never before, integrating digital videos more meaningfully into a wide spectrum of communications strategies, from Nicola Formichetti’s formidable social media machine for the House of Mugler to Tom Ford’s contrarian approach that defied the industry trend towards greater access and immediacy.

In past seasons, fashion films have often been geared at editors, buyers and other industry insiders, accompanying — and sometimes even replacing — runway shows and presentations. But as brands grappled with the tug-of-war between digitally-enabled consumers with real-time expectations and the challenging realities of syncing the physical atoms of their supply chains with the virtual bits of their digital communications, momentum swung in the direction of consumer-facing fashion films designed to coincide with the retail schedule and build intrigue around new collections, just as they hit stores.

Chanel launched a robot animation with terrific viral appeal to support its Spring 2011 makeup line, while Tom Ford synced the arrival of his first womenswear collection in stores with the debut of a film that captured his ultra-exclusive fashion show held last September. But our top honours go to Prada, which released an irresistible fashion film with just the right energy to match the stripes and monkeys of Miuccia Prada’s current collection and accompanying ad campaign.

The following is a BoF selection of what we think were the most compelling fashion films of the Spring 2011 season. As you sit back and enjoy the films, let us know which ones you like best.

1. Prada S/S 2011

In a highly addictive film that almost pops off the screen with infectious charm and masterfully executed quick edits, Tati Cotliar, Kinga Razjak, Arizona Muse, Mariacarla Boscono and Zuzanna Bijoch show off their monkey moves in the stripes and banana prints of Prada’s Spring 2011 collection to the glitchy sounds of Ratatat’s Mirando. “This is just BEGGING for gifs,” added an enthusiastic Tavi Gevinson, referring to simple user-generated animations often based on a few frames of a film, as she reblogged the video on her Tumblr. Indeed, with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, there is something about the film’s quick bursts of colour and body movements that both resonates with today’s remix culture and triggers instant desire, making the video and the collection it displays, completely irresistible.

2. Tom Ford Spring 2011 Fashion Show

While Tom Ford has taken a strong stand against fashion immediacy, preventing the media from photographing or tweeting his ultra-exclusive shows, it would be wrong to conclude that he has rejected the internet entirely. With a stylishly edited film that nicely captures the extraordinary glamour of his Spring show, Mr. Ford has skillfully embraced digital video on his own terms. The film, whose launch was timed to coincide with the arrival of his clothes in store, features an utterly fabulous cast including Julianne Moore, Beyoncé Knowles, Lauren Hutton, Rachel Feinstein, Daphne Guinness, Julia Restoin-Roitfeld and more. Capturing the special ambiance of a very small and glamorous fashion show — we catch glimpses of Anna Wintour, Grace Coddington, Hamish Bowles, Joe Zee, Stefano Tonchi, Cathy Horyn, Carla Sozzani and Jefferson Hack, amongst the 100 top editors in attendance — Mr. Ford’s film may have proven that in the internet age, one thing that people crave even more than immediacy is a feeling of intimacy.

3. Here Comes The Beauty Pack by Chanel

Peter Philip, Chanel’s terrifically talented global creative director for makeup, conceived this fabulously fun animation featuring robots made of Chanel’s iconic packaging. Released to coincide with the launch of the brand’s latest beauty line and drive interest around Chanel Makeup Confidential, a new website featuring exclusive video content, backstage beauty looks from Chanel shows and how-to guides, the video was a runaway success that spread like wildfire across thousands of fashion blogs.

4. Gareth Pugh Pitti 2011

Gareth Pugh made his Italian fashion debut at Pitti Immagine with a visual tour de force by Ruth Hogben. Projected on the ceiling of the 14th-century Orsanmichele church in Florence, the film perfectly complemented a collection that was inspired by Christian iconography and Florentine opulence. But the overall communication transcended reference, colliding the ancient and the hyper-modern to form one powerful vision. With immaculate styling by Katie Shillingford and a dramatic soundtrack by Matthew Stone, this was a fashion film that verged on religious experience.

5. Seven Henrietta Street by Kate Spade New York

Shot by music video director Kinga Burza in a Georgian townhouse in Covent Garden and featuring English actress Anna Brewster and a soundtrack by the disarming chanteuse and MySpace phenomenon SoKo, this film beautifully tells the story of the Kate Spade girl — and brand. Unconventional, curious and imaginative, she “laughs out loud, sings off key and believes in taking chances,” says a text that accompanies the film on the brand’s official YouTube channel.

6. Anatomy of Change for House of Mugler Menswear

House of Mugler creative director Nicola Formichetti launched a captivating web film to build online anticipation and post-show buzz around the creative director’s debut for the brand, using a powerful trinity of fashion, film and music (supplied by Formichetti’s friend and creative co-conspirator Lady Gaga) to transform both his menswear and womenswear runway outings into real-time fashion entertainment. We think integrating the film into the show (a version of the film appeared as a backdrop to the catwalk, while the online edit featured video from the runway) was a smart move, striking a chord with a broader public, but also helping to extend the show’s impact online, giving  fans of Lady Gaga and Mugler a piece of digital content they quickly shared with their friends and followers, carrying Mugler’s new image across the internet.

7. Vanessa Bruno “Miracle”

Directed by Stephanie di Giust, this fantastical film beautifully communicates the colour and prints of Vanessa Bruno’s Spring collection. Featuring actresses Lou Doillon (the brand’s muse) and Jessica Joffe on a mysterious island, the film has a impetuous, tribal tempo that brings new energy to a brand that’s better known for its gentle romanticism. Indeed, the clashing soundtrack, reality-defying camera effects and cascade of colours make this film feel like a rite of liberation.

8. Spying on Kate Moss

Released in early January on NOWNESS, we thought this surreal and charming video of Kate Moss, shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin on the set of the Fall 2010 Balmain campaign, was a refreshing take on the traditionally dull behind-the-scenes video. We especially love the soulful Antony and the Johnsons soundtrack and the “half horror, half Disney” animations by Jo Ratcliffe.

9. Miu Miu “The Powder Room”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq18faoukE8

The first installment of “The Miu Miu Women’s Tales,” a series commissioned by the Italian brand to celebrate female directors and “explore the feminine love affair with Miu Miu,” this short film by Zoe Cassavetes revolves around the ritual of the power room. Starring redheaded beauty Audrey Marney and set at London’s Claridges Hotel, the film has a visually lush and dreamy quality that nicely shows off this season’s colourful Miu Miu dresses. The Power Room will soon be followed by a new Miu Miu film from another female director, so stay tuned.

10. Net-a-Porter Bag Guide

While not a new concept, Net-a-Porter’s “Bag Guide” uses the sounds of zips and clasps to terrific effect in this fun ode to the season’s hottest arm candy. With the recently launched Net-a-Porter TV, streaming online and on Google TV, we’re looking forward to more fashion videos from this pioneer of shopable content.

Did we miss anything? Which fashion films captured your imagination this season? Let the BoF community know which films you liked best.