LONDON, United Kingdom — Beyoncé’s "Lemonade" — which premiered on HBO on Saturday night before being made available on Tidal and iTunes — is a smouldering exploration of marital strife and the plight of black women in America. The wildly stylish, hourlong “visual album” (which contains fashion pieces by a wide range of labels, from Roberto Cavalli and Gucci to Hood By Air and Rosie Assoulin) is also an incredibly powerful example of the growing opportunity at the intersection of music, fashion and digital film.
By 2019, online video will account for 80 percent of all consumer Internet traffic, according to California-based technology giant Cisco. But for years, fashion brands have struggled to fulfill the promise of the medium due to a range of issues, from uncompelling creative content and poor distribution strategies to budgetary constraints linked to disproportionate spend on print advertising and the entrenched political power wielded by traditional photographers and their agents. ‘Lemonade’ — which showcases fashion with far more power than any of the videos produced by fashion brands themselves — should be a wake up call.
As the Internet continues to rewire media, Burberry’s multi-tasking chief creative and chief executive officer Christopher Bailey is famous for saying: “We are now as much a media-content company as we are a design company.” But too many fashion brands — Burberry included — create online videos that feel more like traditional marketing than the kind of genuine content consumers voluntarily seek out and share.
There’s a lot luxury brands can learn from Supreme, which published our top film of the season “Pussygangster,” a skate video directed by longtime collaborator William Strobeck, to coincide with the opening of its first Paris store last month. Shot on Place de la République, one of the French capital’s biggest skate spots, featuring skaters like Sage Elsesser, Sean Pablo, Ben Kadow, Jason Dill and Mark Gonzales, the 10-minute film feels more like an authentic, standalone piece of storytelling than a mere marketing exercise.
To be clear, fashion brands like Calvin Klein, Gucci and Kenzo have been upping their digital video game. This season, Louis Vuitton and Adidas also produced interesting films that cut through the clutter. But as Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” makes clear, the online video stakes are high and fashion brands have work to do. Watch our Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
1. “Pussygangster” by William Strobeck for Supreme
Last month, Supreme released its latest skate video, a 10-minute short directed by longstanding collaborator William Strobeck to support the launch of the brand’s first Paris store. Shot on the city’s Place de la République, a well-known local skate spot, the film is a gritty and honest portrait of urban youth, featuring Supreme riders like Sage Elsesser, Sean Pablo and Ben Kadow, as well as skate icons Jason Dill and Mark Gonzales. With its grainy aesthetic and shaky cinematography, the film stands out for its energy and authenticity.
2. Calvin Klein Spring/Summer 2016 by Tyrone LeBon
In 1994, Calvin Klein released a controversial campaign for its CK One fragrance. Shot by Steven Meisel, the spot presented an indelible image of adolescent sexuality, featuring a 20-year-old Kate Moss and newcomer Jenny Shimzu. Two decades later, the brand has successfully updated the approach for the youth of today with a Spring/Summer 2016 video campaign directed by Tyrone LeBon and featuring a cast that includes Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Kendrick Lamar, Abbey Lee Kershaw and FKA Twigs, all stripped to their underwear.
3. Gucci Spring/Summer 2016 by Glen Luchford
For Gucci’s Spring/Summer campaign, creative director Alessandro Michele teamed up with photographer Glen Luchford for a third consecutive season. Set to Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses” and shot in Berlin at the notorious Bahnhof Zoo station and on the rooftop of the Maritim Hotel, the resulting video depicts a collective of bohemian peacocks joyously fleeing the local police with clear references to Uli Edel’s controversial 1981 film Christiane F.
4. “Dolce Rosa Excelsa” by Giuseppe Tornatore for Dolce & Gabbana
To celebrate the launch of its new scent, the iconic Italian brand united three titans of Italian cinema: director Giuseppe Tornatore, composer Ennio Morricone and actress Sophia Loren. With a rich, sun-drenched palette and sweeping cinematographic style, the film centres around a matriarch, played by Loren, as she directs the restoration of a sprawling Sicilian estate, Villa Valguarnera di Bagheria near Palermo. Scenes of Loren, rolling up her sleeves and cheerfully playing chief builder, bring a lighthearted sense of humour to the film.
5. “Open Up” by Christelle de Castro for Nicopanda
Nicopanda’s Spring/Summer 2016 video pits good kids and rebels against each other in an epic gender-bending vogueing battle. Created by New York-based director Christelle de Castro in partnership with SHOWstudio and Machine-A, the film features Jonte’ Moaning, Mela Murder, Kaner Flex, Richard Kennedy and others, dancing to a soundtrack created by Michael Magnan and JX Cannon.
6. “Your Future is Not Mine” by Terence Neale for Adidas
With a clear message of individuality and empowerment, this short film by Adidas, directed by Terence Neale, follows some of today’s most influential pop culture figures, artists and content creators, including stylist-entrepreneur Luka Sabbat (named the Internet’s coolest teenager) and Cleveland Cavaliers basketball player Iman Shumpert, as they chart their own path through a haunting landscape of gang violence, social media clones and soulless nine-to-five jobs.
7. “Snowbird” by Sean Baker for Kenzo
Over the last few seasons, Kenzo has become more and more adventurous with its fashion films. This time around, the brand joined forces with acclaimed writer and director Sean Baker to create “Snowbird.” The 12-minute short, filmed entirely on an iPhone, depicts a young woman named Theo — played by Abbey Lee Kershaw — in her quest to share a homemade cake with the residents of debris-scattered desert community. Shot in Slab City, a remote campsite in the Sonoran Desert, 156 miles northeast of San Diego, the film’s raw and exotic landscape is matched by Kenzo’s free-spirited Spring/Summer 2016 collection.
8. Kendall Gigi x Vogue by Cass Bird
At a slumber party at The Plaza hotel, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid exchange slouchy nightwear for Spring 2016 Chanel haute couture in a video shot by Cass Bird for American Vogue. The two social media celebrities dance and frolic to Grimes’ “Kill V. Maim” bedecked in lace, ribbon and tulle dresses, offering a strikingly young, modern and light-hearted take on the storied French luxury brand.
9. “The Never Ending Story from Louis Vuitton”
Louis Vuitton zooms through five generations of the brand’s history in a one and half minute short titled “The Never Ending Story from Louis Vuitton,” which has racked up over 10 million views. With art direction reminiscent of Wes Anderson, the film brings a sense of fun and millennial-friendliness to its educational narrative.
10. “Outlaw!” by Maksim Bashkaev, Dilyara Minrakhmanova, Natalia Solovieva and Ilya Petrov for Outlaw Moscow
This February, Maksim Bashkaev, co-founder and designer of Russian fashion brand Outlaw Moscow, won SHOWstudio’s first-ever award for best fashion film with a short called "Outlaw!" The video follows Russian youths as they explore urban Moscow, as they fight isolation by standing out from the crowd.