LONDON, United Kingdom — As online video consumption continues to grow, short fashion films have become an increasingly important component of brand advertising campaigns, though, on the whole, the genre still suffers from a host of challenges relating to lack of budget, poor distribution strategies and the political power wielded by photographers and their agents.
In past seasons, big-budget cinematic-style epics, snappy dance-driven shorts and films propelled by humour have typically attracted the largest audiences. This time around was not much different. Zegna’s ambitous “A Rose Reborn” directed by Park Chan-wook made our list, as did Alexander Wang’s funny Autumn/Winter campaign film, featuring Chris Kattan as Mango, a character from the American comedy show Saturday Night Live.
Though, for the team at BoF, artist and filmmaker Miranda July’s smart, off-kilter film for Miu Miu — about a messaging app which allows users to send messages to friends via the medium of strangers who happen to be nearby — took the number one prize for its blend of comedy and social commentary.
Looking at the current crop of fashion films, it’s also worth highlighting the relatively new and fast-rising subgenre of ‘edutainment’ films, perhaps best evidenced this season by Chanel’s “The Colours” (part of the brand’s wider “Inside Chanel” series), which explains the five emblematic colours behind the storied house. Notably, i-D has also helped to drive the trend, publishing funny educational videos like “How to Speak Japanese with Tao Okamoto,” part of the magazine’s “Model Mother Tongue” series in which the world’s top models teach viewers a few phrases in their native languages.
This season, we also created a fashion film of our own! Directed by Aaron Rose and produced and distributed in partnership with i-D, “Fashion At Work” conjurs up an imaginary office, where members of the BoF 500, the most influential people in fashion, work together, forming a picture of the beautifully eccentric (and slightly dysfunctional) fashion world.
Now, without further ado, sit back, relax and enjoy BoF’s Top 10 Fashion Films of the Season. Which films stuck a chord with you? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
1. Somebody, Women’s Tales #8, by Miu Miu
Miu Miu, like its big sister Prada, tends to take a slightly off-kilter approach to its creative output and its most recent digital venture is no exception. This season, the brand teamed up with artist and filmmaker Miranda July on a short film called “Somebody,” about a messaging app which allows users to send messages to friends via the medium of strangers who happen to be nearby. The surreal and thought-provoking clip premiered at the Venice Film Festival and is the eighth instalment of “Women’s Tales,” a Miu Miu-sponsored film series established to showcase female directors.
2. The Colours by Chanel
Did you know that black was primarily worn by servants and those in mourning until Chanel made the shade synonymous with elegance and used it to reveal “a women’s radiance”? This fact is amongst the pearls of wisdom revealed in “The Colours” by Chanel, which, in three minutes, explains the history of each of Chanel’s iconic shades. Educational, yet fun and easy to absorb, the short clip is the eleventh chapter of the hugely popular “Inside Chanel” series, consisting of 12 original films that recount Coco Chanel’s life and the history of the house she founded. This kind of “edutainment” has a lifespan that’s longer than a season and could be a powerful component of a digital archive sure to be attractive to Chanel’s growing legions of fans.
3. Givenchy by Mert & Marcus
Givenchy’s Autumn/Winter 2014 campaign video, shot by power duo Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott, is sharp, short and to the point. Blending together menswear and womenswear, the film focuses squarely on the clothes, animated by Kendall Jenner, Julia Nobis and Peter Brant Jr, alongside Givenchy regulars Mariacarla Boscono and Jamie Bochert. In what looks like a private party in a luxurious hotel suite, the group dances in front of a forest-printed dressing screen to The Martinez Brothers, while wearing stunning pieces from the Givenchy Autumn/Winter collection, including printed dresses featuring snakeskin and butterflies.
4. Getting There: Yohji Yamamoto
In the first instalment of a series called “Getting There,” in which featured artists take viewers on a literal drive through their lives, visionary Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto takes us for a ride around Tokyo in his 1980s Nissan Cedric, while talking candidly about his relationship with his car and coming up with new ideas for his collections. He drives up to the vast cherry blossom-laden Aoyama cemetery — a short drive from his flagship store and showroom — and enjoys a private stroll with his trusty companion, a hunting dog called Rin. Created by Matthew Donaldson for Nowness, the film is compelling first and foremost for the unique and intimate access it provides to the elusive Yamamoto, set against an original soundtrack, with vocals performed by the designer himself.
5. A Rose Reborn by Park Chan-wook for Ermenegildo Zegna
Ermenegildo Zegna has launched its most ambitious film venture yet, collaborating with actors Jack Huston (of Martin Scorsese’s television series Boardwalk Empire) and Daniel Wu (from Blood Brothers and American Hustle) on a film called “A Rose Reborn,” directed by acclaimed South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook. Unveiled in multiple instalments, with a finale that premiered at the closing event of Shanghai Fashion Week, the mysterious movie begins with Houston playing a London-based CEO, whisked off to China to sell his multi-billion dollar company to an enigmatic investor. The narrative is more relevant to Zegna than it may, at first, seem. The menswear giant has a strong and longstanding presence in Asia and was one of the first European luxury goods companies to expand into China.
6. Rag & Bone feat. Winona Ryder
As a former face of Marc Jacobs, Winona Ryder is no stranger to fashion campaigns. Here the doe-eyed actress appears in a cheeky short for American fashion label Rag & Bone, alongside Michael Pitt, shot by British fashion photographer Glen Luchford at iconic New York amusement park Coney Island. No direction was given to the actors and the films were shot in a freewheeling style, allowing their own personalities to shine through against a music score called “Moonlight on the Dotted Line” by Charles Theodore Zerner. Art directed by Peter Miles, the film has a distinct home video aesthetic that feels very on-brand for Rag & Bone.
7. T by Alexander Wang 2014 feat. Mango
Coming after a series of hysterical video campaigns featuring the likes of Azealia Banks and Bon Qui Qui, this season, T by Alexander Wang doubled down on off-beat humour with a hybrid comedy sketch/music video directed by Brennan Stasiewicz and featuring Chris Kattan as Mango from Saturday Night Live, rapper and choreographer Sharaya J, model Behati Prinsloo, actor and former NHL player Sean Avery, The Real Housewives of New York City’s Sonja Morgan, and author Derek Blasberg. Engaging and funny, with a script aimed at industry insiders (standout lines include: “Derek Blasberg, why are you everywhere?” and “I haven’t been this uncomfortable since the Terry Richardson shoot”), the film is riotous vehicle for showcasing the latest clothes and accessories from T by Alexander Wang.
8. One City, One Girl: NYC by Stella McCartney
For Autumn/Winter 2014, Stella McCartney continued her signature “One City, One Girl” series, which has previously starred Jeanne Damas in Paris and Phoebe Collings-James in London. This season, viewers are greeted by a shock of bright pink hair, courtesy of new it-girl Lizzy Plapinger, one half of the super-cool New York-based band MS MR. Lensed by Sean Thomas and set against the soundtrack of "Oh Oh" by Linkoban, the spirited musician was captured gallivanting around Manhattan, clad in must-have pieces from the designer’s Autumn/Winter 2014 collection. With her eclectic style and addictive aura, there’s no one better than Plapinger to pull off that Harriet fringed dress and those much buzzed-about Elyse star shoes.
9. Summer Wonder by Country Road
Perth-born Gemma Ward, one of the top models of the 2000s, who subsequently took a 6-year hiatus, has made her long-awaited return first on the Prada catwalk and, then, in a major campaign (and accompanying film) for classic Australian brand, Country Road. Directed by Jessie Oldfield and Adam Murfet, “Summer Wonder” stars Ward and her 11-month-old daughter Naia basking in sunshine on the beautiful untouched beaches of Seal Rocks in New South Wales. The cast and location feel like an apt choice for the retailer, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Having clocked an impressive 677,477 views on YouTube, Ward no doubt still has a loyal following.
10. How to Speak Japanese with Tao Okamoto
Konnichiwa! The season, British style bible i-D continues its “Model Mother Tongue” video series, featuring top models teaching viewers simple but useful phrases in their native languages, with Japanese model and actress Tao Okamoto. Directed by Pensacola, watch and learn as the enchanting Chiba-born model rolls Japanese phrases off her tongue, while wearing looks from designers including KTZ, Helmut Lang, Alexander Wang, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi and 3.1 Phillip Lim. In just under two minutes, the film is long enough to show off the clothes and give you a whirlwind tour of speaking Japanese, covering important topics like how to invite friends to karaoke, how to order sushi and sake, and how to rush your companion because you’re going to miss the bullet train to Tokyo.