A few months ago, as part of Fashion in Film Agnes Rocamora chaired a conversation between myself, Lou Stoppard of SHOWstudio and Sally Bolton of Sunday Times Style (who happens to be doing a PHD on the death of the fashion image). The discussion was about fashion on film and how it’s represented. The main criticisms about the majority of fashion film were that a) there’s rarely an engaging narrative, b) fashion photographers trying their hand at film making and invariably failing to create compelling films and c) lack of budget. The point are interlinked in that without proper time, consideration and funds, a good fashion film just won’t blossom out of thin air.
A few weeks later, AnOther Magazine premiered MOVEment at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Seven short films. Seven world renowned choregraphers. Seven fashion designers. Jefferson Hack co-founder of Dazed Group in collaboration with Alistair Spalding, artistic director of Sadler’s Wells conceived a project that would bridge the world of fashion and dance with film being the interconnecting medium. The result? A project that for me, not only showcases the power of the inter mingling of disciplines but also proves what time, consideration and funds (courtesy of Ford, who collaborated with AnOther on the project to celebrate their new Vignale concept) can bring to the representation of fashion on film. And in this case, it’s emotion elicited by physical movement and gestures. Clothes are brought to life not by a listless pretty stare-into-the-camera backgrounded by blurred out cornfield but by the pained expression of a Wuppertal Tanztheatre dancer’s face or pointed toes of a prima ballerina pounding to the beat of a drum. The clothes – particularly in the Prada/Tanztheater Wuppertal film – are creased, rumpled and imperfect and yet still evocative. Even with a meagre understanding of the world of dance, it’s possible to sense emotion, energy and atmosphere in every one of these films. Coupled with what film directors and editing can bring to the final product, you have hit that rarely-reached zenith – fashion films that are equal to, if not superior to their still counterparts. In MOVEment, you have films that collectively move the mind.
Costume: Stephen Jones Millinery
Choregraphy: Jasmin Vardimon
Performance: Nevena Jovanovic
Film: Matthew Donaldson
This film was made in collaboration with Ford Vignale, the partner to AnOther’s MOVEment project. Ford Vignale isn’t a new car model but a concept that means future Ford ranges will have added experience-based services as well as a finish inside the car that focuses on craftsmanship and attention to detail. In short, Ford cars with luxury features and services. The Ford Mondeo in the film has been given the Vignale treatment, which Stephen Jones has drawn inspiration from with his neoprene ensemble and head pillow, made to resemble the seat of a car. Jasmin Vardimon came up with a choreography that is based on body mapping as the dancer Novena Jovanovic puts pen to body in a series of slowly played out hand gestures. Jones is no stranger to working with fashion in movement with his many collaborations with music, stage and film but this project presented a different kind of challenge to create an abstract narrative. In true 21st century working style, Jones wasn’t even physically present for the shoot of the film and instead directed over Skype as he was in Japan.
Costume: Calvin Klein Collection
Choregraphy: Jonah Bokaer
Performance: Jonah Bokaer and Julie Kent
Film: Daniel Asham
The ensembles of Francisco Costaof Calvin Klein’s strict lines and spare minimalism is echoed in a choreography that is similarly rigorous as Jonah Bokaer and Julie Kent throw shapes in a surreal space, backgrounded by a hypnotic black ball that bounces to the beat of the music.
Choreography: Dancers of Tanztheater Wuppertal
Performance: Clémentine Deluy, Scott Jennings, Daphnis Kokkinos, Eddie Martinez, Thusnelda Mercy, Julie Shanahan, Julie Anne Stanzak, Fernando Suels Mendoza, Anna Wehsarg, Paul White.
Film: Kevin Frilet
This was perhaps one of my favourite films of the MOVEment project, which perhaps coincides with its length – ten minutes – the longest of the films. In an ensemble cast of Tanztheater Wuppertal dancers, Prada’s clothes of the “everyday” take on heightened emotions of relationships and the roller coaster that loving (or hating) someone can bring. This is where acting comes into play as much as dancing. In contrast to the stage where you might not clearly see the expression of their faces, here in HD, everything feels amplified. The Arthur Simonini also builds up the crescendo of feeling, leaving you breathless and even a bit teary.
Costume Gareth Pugh
Choregraphy: Wayne McGregor
Performance: Daniela neugebauer, Fukiko Takase, James pett & Louis McMiller at Company Wayne McGregor
Film: Ruth Hogben
Gareth Pugh and Ruth Hogben have set a high benchmark for fashion films with their early pioneering work together and they do it once again here, with the help of Wayne McGregor. Bodies knee-jerk from fluid rapidfire movement of brittle straw like texture and the entrapped Araki-esque state of being, suspended in some strange dimension. The movement in this case is abstracted with Hogben’s way of filming and lighting as you’re not quite sure when body or clothing begins and ends.
Costume: Iris van Herpen
Choregraphy: Russell Maliphant
Performance: Carys Staton
Film: Warren du Preeze and Nick Thornton Jones
The movement in this Spatial Reverse film is subtle but this is where again lighting and special effects are used to create arresting video. It begins with liquid metallic fabric form engulfing the body. It’s then followed by a particularly beautiful shot of the dancer cocooned in what appears to be light diffusing thread. The camera pans and the body becomes a mass of light, as though it were a celestial constellation.
Costume: Hussein Chalayan
Choregraphy: Aya Sato & Ryan Heffington
Film: Jacob Sutton
Not surprisingly, this little short of AyaBambi vogue-ing away in a mirrored dance movement has had the lion’s share of views given that they’re a YouTube sensation that have also recently danced alongside Madonna. Their film represents the super high-energy graphic counterfoil to the subtle gestures and classicism seen in the other films. The sharp precision of their movement is further accentuated by Hussein Chalayan’s ensembles.
Costume: Alexander McQueen
Choregraphy: Marie-Agnès Gillot
Performance: Marie-Agnès Gillot and George Barnett from These New Puritans
Film: Daniel Askill
Can dance command power? Marie-Agnès Gillot’s long and sinuous movements do so as she pounds her painfully en pointe feet away to the drumbeat of George Barnett and the soundtrack of These New Puritans. Daniel Askill manages to pack a dramatically cinematic vision to a very short film as drum and feet go up against one another until Gillot is suspended in the air. Has she been defeated or is she triumphant? That’s open to interpretation.