For Your Consideration


Look out, Hollywood: The Internet is turning designers into film producers. Karin Nelson meets the characters behind the year’s coolest fashion flicks.


Beginning in 2009, John Galliano commissioned directors Jonas Åkerlund, David Lynch, and Olivier Dahan to create short films starring French actress Marion Cotillard and the house’s legendary Lady Dior handbag. For the fourth and final installment, which debuted in December on, Galliano tapped John Cameron Mitchell, the director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and this year’s Oscar buzz–worthy Rabbit Hole. The eight-minute film features Cotillard as a sequin-clad burlesque performer who captures the imagination of both Sir Ian McKellen and The History Boys’ Russell Tovey. “I envisioned Marion’s character as a hybrid of Louise Brooks, Mary Poppins, and Jesus,” says Mitchell, adding that he found the experience of making the film surprisingly rewarding. “It was the opposite of everything I’ve ever heard about working on a commercial—it was a completely fulfilling artistic experience and an absolute pleasure.”


It took all of 15 minutes for Cole and Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy to come up with the concept for their first short film. “We’re into the same crazy stuff,” explains Cole, a fashion photographer who has made music videos for Kylie Minogue and Charlotte Gainsbourg. “Like the secret history of NASA.” Shot partly at SpaceX, PayPal cofounder Elon Musk’s spacecraft manufacturing facility in L.A., the nine-minute thriller, which premiered on last March, features model Guinevere van Seenus running for her life in Rodarte’s shredded postapocalyptic dresses to music by the noise band No Age. What exactly is she escaping? An interspersed clip (provided by SpaceX) of a rather violent rocket launch offers a clue. “Technology can be scary,” notes Cole.


At his past six men’s wear presentations, Yves Saint Laurent Creative Director Stefano Pilati has shown short films created by director Samuel Benchetrit and photographers Bruce Weber and Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, among others. The inspiration for Pilati’s latest came to him last spring while getting an eagle feather tattooed on his neck. He commissioned Marcopoulos, a photographer and filmmaker, to capture the man who did it, celebrity tattoo artist Mark Mahoney. “He wanted to get away from shooting clothes and models,” says Marcopoulos, who met Pilati years earlier when he used music from the director’s documentary about street drummer Larry Wright for his women’s fall 2007 runway show. The resulting eight-minute film follows Mahoney, a Boston-born artist with Fifties gangster style, from his house in suburban California to his Hollywood shop, where he prepares to give Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones a tattoo of a 12th-century king. “That was lucky,” Marcopolous says. “I had no idea he was going to be there that day.”


Korine had been thinking about certain images—faded, almost photographic shots of life in a small Southern town—when he got a call from Proenza Schouler designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez about doing a collaborative short. “We talked about the inspiration for their fall collection—kids in the schoolyard and Christopher Wool graffiti paintings,” recalls Korine, who wrote the seminal 1995 teen drama Kids. “I figured it was the right time to use those images.” Filmed in his hometown of Nashville, the four-minute movie, which debuted on the designers’ website in September, portrays local African-American girls spraying graffiti, dribbling a basketball, and drinking 40-ounce bottles of beer, all while dressed in Proenza Schouler. “It’s a love letter to the boredom people feel growing up in small towns,” Korine says. “Conveying the spirit of the brand? I don’t even know what that means.”


Fenton jewelry designer Dana Lorenz’s longtime obsession with the Eighties was the starting point for her brand’s first film. “It got me thinking about Blade Runner—that sense of futuristic decadence,” says Hamza, who formerly assisted photographer Steven Klein and now shoots regularly for French Vogue and Dazed & Confused. Like a Patrick Nagel poster in motion, the minute-and-a-half video, which debuted online last September, features a heavily adorned and seemingly jilted Sean Young look-alike smoking a cigarette, stirring a cocktail, and using an old rotary phone in a wash of violet light while the Brooklyn electro band EUC’s “Shattered Glass” blares from the speakers. “People’s attention spans are very short,” Hamza says. “These fashion films have to strike you as instantly as a photograph.”


In addition to designing 87 looks for Chanel’s Riviera-inspired cruise collection, Karl Lagerfeld somehow found the time to shoot an accompanying 17-minute short, shown to editors and celebrities in Saint-Tropez last May. Filmed without a script, it stars French actor Pascal Greggory as an aging playboy who returns to the resort town after 30 years, only to find the young and fabulous indulging in decidedly retro activities. (Following a Seventies costume party, they have a group sing to the music of Sixties icon Sacha Distel.) The enviously attired cast includes models Freja Beha Erichsen, dressed as Mick Jagger, and Magdalena Frackowiak, who does a spot-on Bardot. Lagerfeld himself also makes an amusing appearance, strolling into the after-hours party dressed angelically in head-to-toe white.


H&M had a loose concept of the film the company wanted for its Lanvin collaboration when H&M approached Figgis to shoot it last summer. “They had all these different scenarios of people wearing the clothing,” says Figgis, the director of Leaving Las Vegas. “I took those ideas and made a story out of it.” Shot on a set in Paris built to resemble an elegant old hotel like Le Crillon, the nine-minute film, which debuted in November on H&M’s website, tells the story of a designer who falls asleep while sketching his collection. In the subsequent dream sequence—a darkly comic romp through the rooms—guests are seen taking showers, doing cardio, and devilishly dancing about in Alber Elbaz’s flouncy cocktail dresses. “I don’t think fashion should be breezy, breezy, girly, girly,” Figgis says. “Good fashion, like Alber’s, has edge.”


Last year magician David Blaine chartered a boat off the coast of Guadalupe Island with men’s wear designer Adam Kimmel and marine photographer–filmmaker Bob Talbot. The purpose: for Blaine to swim with great white sharks while dressed in Kimmel’s clothes. The three-minute nail-biter, which premiered last November before an illustrious few at the designer’s TriBeCa loft, is just the latest cinematographic project for Kimmel; he has also commissioned Warhol Factory filmmaker Gerard Malanga, artist Meredith Danluck, and director Ari Marcopoulos (see “No Way Back”) to create digital shorts. In this one, shot entirely underwater, Blaine touches a passing fin, eats a banana, and feigns exhaling cigar smoke by blowing milk out of his mouth. The trickiest part? Remaining buoyant in a tuxedo and cape. “You don’t want to go sinking into the abyss,” says Blaine.