A still from Prada’s ‘A Therapy’ directed by Roman Polanski
Fashion loves film and film loves fashion. For two oft-fickle industries, it’s a relationship that has endured, blossomed and become one of the most influential partnerships in the aspirational communications of luxury goods.
Sophia Coppola has not only directed fragrance advertisements for Dior but has her own eponymous range of leather goods over at Louis Vuitton. For the first time in the film festival’s history, fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier was chosen as a member of the 2012 Cannes jury, sitting alongside actress – and Chanel ambassador – Diane Kruger.
Louis Vuitton recently launched a competition alongside Luca Guadagnino, calling on student, amateur and professional filmmakers to show the brand what a ‘meaningful encounter’ means to them. Shortlisted entries are currently viewable on its comprehensive YouTube Channel, where the jury includes cinema directors Zoe Cassavetes and Nadine Labaki.
“ Sophia Coppola has not only directed fragrance advertisements for Dior, but has her own eponymous range of leather goods over at Louis Vuitton ”
Chanel hosted this year’s seventh annual Tribeca Film Festival artist awards program dinner in New York. Gucci took the opportunity at Cannes, to present a film it has restored in partnership with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation with an elaborate dinner at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc. Prada unveiled its first short film directed by Roman Polanski, starring Helena Bonham-Carter and Ben Kingsley. As the relationship between fashion and film evolves, it clearly continues to deepen.
Using cinema directors in advertising has long been a tactic of some of the world’s biggest brands. Nike, Apple, Adidas and BMW have called upon directors Terry Gillham, Ridley Scott, Spike Jonez and Tony Scott respectively.
David Lynch has been directing fragrance advertising since 1992, when he produced a spot for Armani’s Giò. Since then, he has mounted campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium, Lancome’s Tresor, Jil Sander’s Background and Gucci’s Gucci by Gucci.
Baz Lurhman and Martin Scorcese have since worked on fragrance campaigns for Chanel, Guy Ritchie and Sophia Coppola for Dior, Giuseppe Tornatore for Dolce & Gabbana and Frank Miller for Gucci.
“ Baz Lurhman & Martin Scorcese have worked on fragrance campaigns for Chanel, Guy Ritchie & Sophia Coppola for Dior, Frank Miller for Gucci ”
Where fragrance has committed, the fashion pack has merely flirted with the idea of the big name cinema director collaboration. In an industry traditionally driven by the strength of still image campaigns and editorials, in printed glossy magazines, it is unsurprising to realise that most branded video content has been shot by fashion photographers. Constituted largely by behind the scenes footage or moving interpretations of realised print campaigns.
This approach has not been without criticism. Just as media commentators accused magazines of ‘missing the point’, in the rush to deposit print content onto the iPad, fashion films have drawn criticism for lacking both an understanding of, and respect for, for the moving picture medium. A commentator on the Business Of Fashion perhaps put it best:
Why do people watch film? Why do people watch music videos? Why do people listen to music? Why do people read books? Why do people go to the theatre? What makes a great film? What makes a great music video? What makes great music? What makes a great book? What makes a great play or musical? An exceptional narrative. This is something that sorely lacks in the majority of multi-media material endorsing something from the fashion fraternity.
“ What makes a great film? An exceptional narrative. Something that sorely lacks in the majority of material from the fashion fraternity ”
This could likely change if the cinema set continue to infiltrate fashion film. It could also very much backfire, as fashion – the physical garments themselves – make for a somewhat dubious cinematic narrative.
“When it comes to reel life, clothes are the background to the action, just as they are in real life,” muses Vanessa Friedman. “You want [fashion] to make your life easier, or better, or prettier; you want it to be a catalyst, not the point. Yet fashion films, for whatever reason, can’t stop denying or obsessing over the branded good at their heart.”
As we wait to see how the story unfolds, below is a short list of videos by luxury fashion brands that have enlisted the talents of feature film directors. As always, we welcome you to join the discussion.
To explore more ways in which luxury brands are using Video in communications, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows: