FASHION

Xavier Dolan Learned to Break Beauty Clichés From Prada

The star director discusses working with Hunter Schafer on a short film for Prada’s Galleria bag.

by W Staff

Xavier Dolan on set
Photographed by Shayne Laverdière. Courtesy of Prada.

Xavier Dolan was only 20 years old when J’ai Tué Ma Mère, or I Killed My Mother, a film he wrote, directed, starred in, and produced premiered at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. At 27 he would take home the festival’s 2014 Jury Prize for his movie, Mommy. In the near-decade since, the French-Canadian wunderkind has firmly cemented his status as a leading LGBTQ+ auteur and fashion star—both in front of and behind the camera. The past year has seen the Quebecois directing some of the world’s biggest stars. See: Adele in her “Easy on Me” video, Julia Roberts in a Chopard campaign, and Euphoria’s Hunter Schafer in a delightfully cinematic short film for Prada. The video for the house’s Galleria bag is an ode to joy across generations with Schafer jumping between decades in style. Here, Dolan discusses the inspiration for the shoot and the important color lesson he learned from Miuccia Prada.

How would you describe your relationship to fashion?

My relationship to fashion isn’t a relationship to an industry or its concepts but rather a relationship to things that I find beautiful. To beauty, as a matter of fact, and art. There is so much artistry, so much beauty in clothes, colors, textures. And as an artist and human I am drawn to that, naturally, as much as I am drawn to things that are ugly and flawed. I just want to film anything that has character and lives so buoyantly.

How would you describe your relationship with Prada?

I’ve been friends with Prada for a long time. I met with some of its key people in New York in 2016. And ever since it has been a story of love and friendship. Their generosity towards my friends and me has been limitless. And well, my relationship to Prada as a brand started decades ago. When I realized that pink and red together made sense. That brown and blue worked as well. Those clichés of beauty, like Miuccia said, were meant to be “torn apart.”

Courtesy of Prada.

How would you describe the sentiment this film tries to express?

I think it’s a film about dreams and freedom. The desire to break free, fly, travel. Something about the cages, physical and mental, in which we live. In this particular case, it is a pretty cage with shag on the floor and my friend Pierre Frey’s tapestries on the walls! But it’s, nevertheless, a cage. And this past year, we’ve grown familiar, too familiar, with cages of all kinds, wherever we’re from, and whichever is our status.

Dolan with Schafer on set. Courtesy of Prada

What emotional response do you hope audiences will have?

Any emotional response is a good enough response. Where there is emotion, there is interest! It means people care.

How does this process relate to or differ from your narrative process around a feature film?

It did not differ at all, in this case. We built sets, characters, scenes... so that there would be a thread here, woven across the story, where Hunter would get to do things a human being does, instead of just holding a bag that ends up being more important than her.