Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season

Lanvin Spoof Video | Source:

NEW YORK, United States — At BoF, we’ve been ranking the top fashion films of the season since 2009, when the genre was still just coming into existence. But even back then, set against the staggering rise of online video consumption and the growing importance of engaging young digital consumers, the medium’s tremendous potential was clear.

Fast-forward to the Autumn of 2011 and YouTube-friendly short videos are practically de rigueur for fashion brands, large and small. But interestingly, it’s not digital “Geniuses” like Burberry who have been creating the most compelling fashion films. Despite being labeled “Challenged” by a Digital IQ report recently released by LuxuryLab, we think the Prada Group is making some of the best digital films in the industry, working with top fashion image-maker Steven Meisel.

But this season, it was Lanvin’s viral sensation (also shot by Meisel), featuring Karen Elson and Raquel Zimmermann dancing awkwardly to “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” by Pitbull, that proved to be the game-changer that propelled fashion film decisively into the mainstream. The film struck a chord with a broad internet audience, earning over 100,000 YouTube views in the first three days online, providing the spark for a real-life dance competition at a buzzed about and well-attended Fashion’s Night Out event at the brand’s Madison Avenue boutique, and even spawning spoofs, the surest sign of of viral success.

Notably, it was stills from the Lanvin video that appeared in print advertising, flipping a well-established paradigm and highlighting fashion film’s trajectory towards the very centre of seasonal marketing initiatives.

And while we continued to see some absolutely stunning examples of films that look and feel like print campaigns or magazine editorial beautifully brought to life, it’s ‘digital first’ fashion videos, conceived from first principles with the online medium in mind, that broke the mold with humour, quirky charm or unconventional visual techniques which seemed to resonate most with online audiences.

What follows is BoF’s selection of the most powerful and interesting fashion films of the 2012 Spring-Summer season. As you sit back and enjoy the videos, let us know which ones you like best.

1. Lanvin Fall/Winter 2011 Ad Campaign

Dubbed “Park Avenue YouTube,” Lanvin’s tongue-in-cheek, fall campaign video — featuring top models Raquel Zimmermann and Karen Elson dancing uncomfortably in a chic apartment to Pitbull’s 2009 smash hit “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” and a hilarious cameo by creative director Alber Elbaz — had just the right elements to drive explosive word of mouth amongst fashion fans across the internet, while perfectly communicating the distinctive personality of the Lanvin brand. Shattering the seriousness that has often prevented fashion film from resonating with a broader audience, the Steven Meisel-shot video has already earned almost a million cumulative views on YouTube, been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook, and inspired a spoof remix “starring the attendees of Fashion Week in New York” as well as a popular fan made imitation video.

2. Prada Fall/Winter 2011 Ad Campaign

Following on their first place ranking last season, Prada’s fall womenswear video, shot by Steven Meisel and featuring Antonia Wesseloh, Ondria Hardin, Kelly Mittendorf, Julia Zimmer and Frida Gustavsson, perfectly captures and communicates the delicate co-mingling of sensuality and innocence at the heart of Mrs. Prada’s collection. Set to a hypnotic soundtrack with a breathy voiceover, the slow motion film is also a seductive and transfixing digital merchandising dream, full of sequins, fur and snakeskin. We only wish it was directly shopable.

3. Mourir Aupres De Toi by Spike Jonze & Olympia Le-Tan

Set after-hours on the shelves of famous Left Bank bookstore Shakespeare & Company, Spike Jonze’s quirky stop-motion animation “Mourir Aupres De Toi” brings to life the embroidered ‘covers’ of Olympia Le-Tan’s book-clutch bags to tell the touching story of a clumsy skeleton and his lover. Using over three thousand pieces of hand-cut felt, the film beautifully communicates the handmade aesthetic and human charm of Le-Tan’s work. “I love getting performances from, telling stories about and humanizing things that aren’t human,” Jonze told Nowness, where the film first appeared.

4. “Dynamic Blooms” by Nick Knight & Alister Mackie

Recently released by experimental filmmakers Tell No One in collaboration with SHOWstudio, this succinct, visually stunning film brings to life Nick Knight and Alister Mackie’s breathtaking editorial for last season’s AnOther Magazine. Featuring Benjamin Warbis and Jac Jagaciak, the video collides dance and fashion, transforming pieces by Lanvin, Versace, Chloe, Valentino, Christian Dior Haute Couture, Jil Sander and Haider Ackermann into dynamic contemporary blossoms that explode across the screen.

5. Prabal Gurung Resort 2012 – “New Thing” feat. Rye Rye

For the launch of his first ever foray into resort, inspired by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and the portraits of George Condo, rising designer Prabal Gurung teamed up with booty-shaking Baltimore artist Rye Rye to create a viral music video as bold and energetic as the graphic black and white theme, 60s-inspired florals, polka-dots, and pops of pinks, yellows and greens that run through the collection. Directed by Kenneth Cappello, the video deploys a dynamic high-low mix to explosive effect and underscores the power of integrating fashion, film and music to earn the attention of what Gurung has called “the YouTube generation.”

6. AnOther Magazine Issue 21 featuring Rachel Weisz

Shot by Craig McDean with creative direction by David James and styling by Olivier Rizzo, this off-kilter film features Rachel Weisz, cover star of this season’s AnOther Magazine, in a series of non-narrative micro-performances, inspired by German modern dance legend Pina Bausch. While magazines have long used online videos as supplementary material to support their print content, this film is a compelling example of ‘digital first’ editorial: the images that appear in print are stills taken from this surreal film.

7. Love F/W 2011 What Lies Beneath by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott

Accompanying “What Lies Beneath,” an epic 46-page, Jeff Bark-inspired fashion story shot by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for Katie Grand’s Love magazine, this disturbing but compelling film collides romantic elements with a hard-edged and dangerous undercurrent. Complete with white swans, bondage gear and submerged cars, this sexually-charged and transfixing film unfolds like a classical myth reimagined for a disjointed, nightworld where Lara Stone, Mariacarla Boscono, Saskia De Brauw, Kristen McMenamy, Paul Boche, Anais Pouliot, Jed Texas, Guinevere Van Seenus, Xiao Wen Ju and Angus Whitehead play dark contemporary demigods and water nymphs.

8. Gareth Pugh S/S 2012 by Ruth Hogben

This season, East London’s enfant terrible Gareth Pugh teamed up with Ruth Hogben to create a dark and punchy film that was screened at the designer’s Paris catwalk show, as well as on Nick Knight’s fashion website SHOWstudio. Integrated into the runway event, the film both set the tone at the beginning of the show and provided a digital backdrop to the models on the catwalk, turning the presentation of Pugh’s collection into a multimedia viewing experience for the assembled press, buyers and industry insiders.

9. Twin Parallel by Justin Anderson

Directed by Justin Anderson for London-based designer Jayne Pierson and inspired by the twin paradox in physics, this beautiful film won this season’s ‘Best Styling’ prize at Diane Pernet’s A Shaded View on Fashion Film festival, which took place during Paris Fashion Week at the Centre Pompidou. The film’s immaculately styled, still life tableaux, featuring fruit, candles, a cuckoo clock and a goose that presumably lays gold, sharpen the eye and draw attention to the royal details of Pierson’s collection.

10. Kenzonique by Kenzo

This snappy and upbeat trailer for the relaunch of Kenzo, directed by Jo Ratcliffe with music by Rob Coudert, perfectly teased the energy of the brand’s first presentation under new creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony. Dubbed “hyperdelic” on YouTube, the video’s vibrant colour palette and fun feel were totally in tune with the new collection and clearly communicated the brand’s repositioning as a playful creative force at the top end of the contemporary market.

What were your favourite fashion films this season?