How does fashion translate from runway to retail and the ad campaigns that ultimately sell the looks to the world? That's the question The New York Fashion Film Festival has been attempting to answer for the past five years since it launched in 2011. Sponsored by W Magazine, the film fest kicked off at the School of Visual Arts Thursday night with the 20 best brand films of the year that screened over 45 minutes.
If that doesn't seem like a lot of time, you're right. But then again, while these are short films they're still used as advertising for companies Barney's, Rag & Bone, Lanvin, Prada, Dazed and Confused, Opening Ceremony, and Supreme, among others, and two minutes seems to be the industry standard in terms of length.
The approach, however, was as varied as the designers represented. Barney's focused on menswear, showcasing the latest from Givenchy in a short that came to life with artistic digital effects and menacing male models. A recurring (and soon boring) theme was sampling VHS tapes for a vaguely vintage look, which Supreme and Opening Ceremony used a little too liberally. While Supreme turned the lens on skate life, Opening Ceremony focused on a day stuck indoors with a few quirky friends.
Prada, on the other hand, took the quirky high road. Wes Anderson directed Blue is the Warmest Color star Lea Seydoux in Prada's two-minute film about a woman juggling two men. After realizing she's not interested in either of them, the spurned lovers decide to date each other instead (see a portion of the ad series above).
Lanvin used its own creative director, Alber Elbaz, who interrupted a campaign starring Karlie Kloss by Skype-ing in. "I love it—it's beautiful the two bags!" he said in English. "From where I am I don't see very well but the lighting is very nice... it's divine. Love, love, love j'adore. It's very chic. I feel I'm in a dream. Feel like I'm in a cloud."
"Cass vs. Daria," a black-and-white film with director Cass Bird and model Daria Werbowy for Nowness, featured Werbowy dressed up in both men's and women's clothing.
"That's always fun for me," said Bird. "I'm attracted to a subject that can embody masculine and feminine energy at the same time."
O'Brien concluded with a question that more or less summed up the entire night and addressed what was probably on everyone's mind. "What makes a fashion film unlike a screensaver?" In other words, why should we care?
"The difference is the obvious," Bird said. "It doesn't tell a story but it's nice to look at."
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