PARIS, France - When I first met Diane Pernet, it was hard to see beyond her iconic look : a towering pompadour, mantilla veil, cateye sunglasses and platform wedges, all in black, complemented by scarlet red lips and a signature scent. Since then, I have never seen her in anything else.
But, despite her aesthetic constancy, she is one of those rare souls in the fashion business who still manages to surprise at every turn, with witty observations and an unflinching honesty. And, as I have come to know the person behind the veil, as it were, we have bonded over our shared passion for young design talent, debated ideas for fashion collaborations and industry progress, and exchanged dollops of industry gossip.
Diane, of course, is best known for building one of the most influential blogs in the industry, something she has done by focusing on emerging brands and edgy events from around the world, as opposed to the major brands which are covered ad nauseam elsewhere. But recently, she has been talking to me about A Shaded View on Fashion Film, which will launch at the prestigious Jeu de Paume in Paris in September.
DP: Like Josephine Baker’s song Mes Deux Amours, I have two loves, fashion and film and I’m not really sure in which order they fall. The idea of fashion in movement intrigues me.
Around 8 or 9 years ago most of the fashion films that existed were runway shows. Within the past few years, along with blogs, youtube, etc. everyone seems to be going out and experimenting with a camera. The results fascinate me.
In August of 2006 I launched, You Wear it Well, a traveling fashion film festival with a collaborator. We exaggerated when we called it a film festival; it was more like a 90 minute curated program. At that time and up until today, SHOWstudio has been one of the pioneers in moving fashion and I’m happy to say that they have accepted to screen with my festivals since the beginning of this journey and continue to collaborate under the new structure, ASVOFF.
This season among other entries, they will propose 6 films from their FUTURE TENSE: Fashion’s Future is Now! A decade ago it was too soon, now the time is right and it is the first Fashion Film Festival in Paris and that makes me very excited. I’ve always enjoyed being a pioneer.
BoF: You're a former fashion designer turned fashion journalist. What does that have to do with the work of independent filmmakers?
DP: For 13 years I designed a collection under my own label, but before that I studied documentary filmmaking and before that I was a reportage photographer, so image has always played an important role in my life. I like to think that I am supporting the creative people that are now experimenting with film and fashion. In all these films, fashion is the principal subject, theme or cinematic aesthetic. The festival puts the attention on the drama, power and personification that fashion evokes and commands on screen.
BoF: Do you think there is a commercial role that these kinds of films can play in the fashion industry?
DP: Absolutely, just take a look at all of the print media and websites, they have all jumped on the band wagon because they understand the power of the moving image and their products and the reach of the internet.
DP: The final selection still won’t be made for a few weeks and it is really going to be difficult.
Perhaps if I tell you the jury prizes, I will cover what we’ve seen as the most interesting categories:
1st Prize: For the film that best combines a distinctive style with narrative virtuosity.
Best Artistic Direction: For the film that creates an extraordinary sensory universe. Here we put the focus on image, style, colors, casting, choice of music and other cinematic elements. (The story, acting and rhythm will not be crucial criteria for this prize).
Best Director: For the most well directed movie. A compelling story, outstanding acting and rhythm. This prize will recognize the talent of a director regardless of production issues or budget constraints.
BoF: What are the highlights we can expect for this year's edition?
DP: Jessica Mitrani, a director from Colombia, submitted a film about shoes, one shoe in fact, a Mary Jane. Italian Director/Photographer, Francesco Carrozzini submitted a short film that was part of SHOWstudio’s Moving Image project called “Don’t Blink!” Linda Evangelista, British Director Malcolm Pate did a film called Heaven, Camilla Robinson with Rain Li did a film called Sweet Pea that I really love, Warren du Preez and Nick Thorton Jones did an animation called Mutation.
Actually I could go on and on, but best I stop here.
ASVOFF will debut at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris on 26 September. Banner photo from "Don't Blink" Linda Evangelista, as seen on SHOWstudio, courtesy of Francesco Carrozzini.