LONDON, United Kingdom — Fashion label Vena Cava recently released a hiliarious spoof film to promote its diffusion line "Viva Vena!" which gets at everything that's wrong with far too many fashion films: slow, dramatic music; models gazing dreamily at the camera; and rambling narratives that don’t really say anything. Many of these unfortunate clichés are rooted in the misallocated budgets and entrenched politics that stem from the print-centric culture that has long dominated fashion media. But times are changing and brands are learning.
Overall, it has to be said, it was a lacklustre season for fashion film, with few genuinely new ideas or approaches. But the most successful films broke away from the old template, embracing the unexpected plots, quirky music and bursts of humour that resonate with online audiences.
Alexander Wang called on comedienne Anjelah Johnson to reprise her role as Bon Qui Qui in a laugh-out-loud video for T by Alexander Wang, which has netted a remarkable 492,000 views in the five weeks since its release.
Steven Meisel’s short film for Lanvin Spring/Summer 2013 begins as just another boring slow-motion fashion video, only to take another direction entirely when the house's creative director, Alber Elbaz, interrupts the video with a comically timed Skype call, a clear wink to Internet culture intruding on the otherwise airtight perfection of print media. The effect was so convincing that this viewer actually scrambled to answer the call before realising that it was part of the film.
High profile names and cinematic production values still grab audiences, however. Louis Vuitton’s “L’Invitation Au Voyage,” a big budget blockbuster starring top model Arizona Muse, set in the Louvre and shot by top imagemakers Inez & Vinoodh, clocked over 20 million views on YouTube, no doubt buoyed by a multi-channel media strategy that included Facebook, TV and movie theatres.
Now, without further ado, sit back, turn up your speakers and enjoy BoF's Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season. And don't forget to let us know what you think.
1. T by Alexander Wang Spring 2013 feat. Bon Qui Qui
After a series of video campaigns starring rap artists like last season’s Azealia Banks, Alexander Wang took a turn for the quirkier (and funnier) this spring with the help of his newest shop assistant, Bon Qui Qui. On her first day on the sales floor of Alexander Wang’s flagship store, Bon Qui Qui “assists” the likes of Alessandra Ambrosio, A$AP Rocky and Simon Doonan. Hilarity ensues. The campaign also appears to have earned the brand some new fans; as one YouTube commenter wrote, “this has made Alexander Wang so much more accessible! Totally want to check out their range based on this video alone.” If that isn’t effective marketing, we’re not sure what is.
2. Lanvin Summer 2013 Campaign
Most internet users will be familiar with the premise of Lanvin’s Summer 2013 video – while browsing websites or watching a funny clip, the Skype ringtone sounds and caller ID pops up on our screens, demanding our attention. Lanvin tapped into that experience in their latest film, edited by Gordon von Steiner, which they describe as “the morning after the night before.” It opens with slow-motion footage of a coterie of posing models, but just when the viewer expects another boring fashion film, Alber Elbaz calls in with his endearing and lighthearted commentary: “The perspective is just sick! Love, love, love. Divine!”
3. Louis Vuitton, “L’Invitation Au Voyage” by Inez & Vinoodh
Louis Vuitton brought on board some big names this season: celebrated image makers Inez & Vinoodh and supermodel-of-the-moment Arizona Muse, who brought to life the mysterious narrative of a young woman exploring the Louvre, pursued by a handsome suitor, before departing via hot air balloon. Suspenseful music, sweeping cinematography and references to Louis Vuitton's travel heritage — not to mention its coordinated debut across social channels, television and movie theatres — came together to make this film a veritable blockbuster, with over 20 million views on YouTube alone.
4. Prada Spring/Summer 2013 by Steven Meisel
The on-going collaboration between Prada and Steven Meisel continues to amaze. Last season, the duo gave us a dramatic chess face-off. This season, the story is softer and more playful, featuring ten models as various “flowers that bloom in Prada’s secret garden.” Despite the rambling dialogue, the film’s quirky, brisk execution prevents it from veering into generic fashion film territory. Each model is introduced in abrupt, Tarantino-like cuts, and with Saskia de Brauw making explosive sound effects in the background, it’s clear that Prada isn’t taking itself too seriously.
5. Kenzo Resort 2013, "Electric Jungle"
Breaking the mold again this season is Kenzo, who brought us the brilliant “Watermarked” last season. Directed by Mat Maitland, this electrifying, pop-art inspired short brings Kenzo’s jungle-themed resort collection to life with high-energy art direction and a funky soundtrack, courtesy of electro-pop artist Buffalo Tide. Maitland “imagined the model as though she [were] an inhabitant of this neon jungle” and used animation, collage, and the wild prints of the collection itself to bring the viewer into the jungle. At just under a minute long, the film is long enough to show off the clothes but too short to bore — a winning balance.
6. Maiyet, “Sleepwalking in the Rift” by Cary Fukunaga
Critically acclaimed director Cary Fukunaga, whose Jane Eyre was released in 2011, was commissioned by ethical luxury label Maiyet to produce a cinematic short for its Resort 2013 collection. The story follows two young lovers in the beautiful, lush landscape of East Africa, set to a romantic and sentimental score. It may sound like a snooze, but the atmospheric trailer-like video succeeds in evoking a powerful mood that adeptly conveys the Maiyet brand.
7. Miu Miu, “The Door” by Ava DuVernay
Directed by Ava DuVernay, the first female African-American director to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival, “The Door” stars Gabrielle Union as a woman recovering from heartbreak. Union delivers an emotional performance, helped by “the transformative power of feminine bonds” and “clothing as a symbol of renewal.” The compelling narrative, soft jazz songs in place of dialogue, and diverse cast marks this film as a winner this season.
8. McQ Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter 2013
Directed by Roger Deckker and starring models Botond Cseke and Maria Bradley, this dark and moody seasonal short for Alexander McQueen’s diffusion label McQ presents structured suits, knits and dresses in a warped visual trip that has become something of the McQueen company's digital film signature.
Early fashion film pioneer Nick Knight, founder of SHOWstudio, once again pushes technological boundaries in his latest video for retailer Lane Crawford’s Spring/Summer 2013 lookbook. Featuring model Ming Xi in Givenchy, Proenza Schouler and Haider Ackermann, the film was produced with 3D scanning and motion capture technology in place of traditional photography. The resulting effect is futuristic, eerie, and blurs the line between 2D and 3D mediums.
10. Barneys New York, “Wild Things”
Barneys New York presented their Spring 2013 lookbook featuring brands like Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang and 3.1 Phillip Lim in a catchy, pop-art inspired short. Best of all, it's shopable. On the Barneys website, a scrolling product selection keeps pace with each segment of the video, allowing viewers to watch, click and buy.
This season's Top 10 Fashion Films ranking was written by BoF's new editorial intern Lisa Wang. Welcome Lisa!