The love between fashion, luxury, and celluloid has always been fatal, but now it has entered a new dimension. Fashion now makes cinema. Because fashion designers and the brands they create for are changing the narrative of their identity through a renewed and evolved cinematic dimension that has nothing (or almost nothing) to do with the old fashion movies
The relationship between fashion and cinema is changing: it is becoming more open, broader. The most recent leap forward in this respect has been made by Saint Laurent. Under the impetus of its artistic director Anthony Vaccarello, the French fashion house founded a film production company, Saint Laurent Productions. The label made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival 2023 by presenting two short films: Pedro Almodóvar‘s ‘Strange Way of Life’ and Jean-Luc Godard‘s ‘Drôles de Guerres’, a work the director was working on before his death last September at the age of 92. Saint Laurent thus became the first luxury brand to integrate film production among its activities.
The brand revealed that it is working on a series of feature films with directors of the calibre of David Cronenberg and Paolo Sorrentino. “I want to work with all the great film talents that have inspired me over the years and give them space. These directors never fail to open my mind and, in a way, the singular and radical vision they bring to cinema has made me the person I am today,’ Vaccarello explains. (source Ansa)
Fashion now makes cinema
Creative directors are no longer just a mere trait d’union between fashion and cinema. They are changing the narrative of fashion through cinema. Fashion film, in fact, is a mode that has gone out of fashion if we want to stay on topic. Designers, together with directors, have gone further. After all, if we think about it, designers and directors are called upon to express their own vision of life in their work. But when does a dress turn into a costume and become a narrative medium? After all, isn’t it an expressive medium for each of us when we take it out of the wardrobe and put it on? And how does it turn into a cinematic medium?
“Films always inspire me. I’ve used them as visual backdrops in my fashion shows because they create an incredible atmosphere full of emotion,‘ Alexander McQueen, a designer who is very close to cinema, once said. But a designer who most embodies being both a fashion and film creative is Tom Ford. The creator of the first relaunch of Gucci sold his brand and left the fashion world to devote himself to the cinema. Today, details about the film he will write are lacking, but Ford has confirmed that it will be a dark comedy. Ford admitted that directing ‘A Single Man’ and ‘Nocturnal Animals’ was ‘the funniest experience of my life. I felt I’d said all I could say with fashion, whereas I don’t feel I’ve said all I could say with the cinema’.
Another creative who changed and elevated the narrative role of cinema in fashion was Gucci’s, Alessandro Michele. In November 2020, together with the filmmaker Gus Van Sant, he presented the miniseries ‘Ouverture of something that never ended‘, composed of 7 episodes, with which he presented the new collection at the GucciFest. “The clothes, freed from the places of fashion, were mixed with everyday life. The cinema, an imitation of life, made them live: they went back to where they came from, to life,” was the reflection offered by Michele.
Balenciaga and Dior
Coming to current events, to present its latest collection (Summer 2024), Balenciaga decided to create a video vaguely reminiscent of the pavement scene from François Truffaut‘s ‘I 400 colpi’ (Les Quatre Cents Coups). A cinema truth becomes a means to “apply the codes of the Maison to the patterns of everyday life“, as the brand itself points out. On the other hand, Dior is starring in two films: ‘Haute Couture’ by Sylvie Ohayon in 2021 and ‘Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris’ by Anthony Fabian in 2022.
NSS Magazine wonders whether this ‘invisible strategy‘ of the brand referring to the cinema is a ‘masterpiece of soft marketing or a fluke‘. Both films are set in the Avenue Montaigne atelier, take an up-close look at the creation of haute couture clothes, and, indirectly, are a eulogy to the brand and its craftsmanship. But the two films appear to be something other than marketing operations, as they stand well on their own. Instead, they can be a test of how a historic fashion brand can tell its story explicitly without undermining its credibility.
The reverse example
If Saint Laurent has gone from being a luxury label to a film production company, there is also the reverse example. A24 is a film label founded in 2012 and has become a cult brand over the years. In addition to films, it also offers merchandising consisting of memorabilia, especially clothing. Film companies, the smaller ones in particular, need to find new sources to feed their revenues: fashion provides them with an excellent assist.