Luca Guadagnino: Fashion Filmmaker

The director of ‘I Am Love’ is coming to a brand near you


With his lavish 2009 melodrama I Am Love, Luca Guadagnino created the ultimate fashion film. Now the Italian director has started Frenesy, a production company aiming to do more of the same—albeit on a smaller scale. Over the past few years, he has made shorts for Cartier Sergio Rossi, Ferragamo, Fendi, Tod’s, and Delfina Delettrez—the latter directed by the American animator PES, whose minute-plus stop-motion film, Fresh Guacamole, was nominated for an Oscar this year. “Fashion films can be so much more than just moving look books,” Guadagnino says, crediting a Krizia-sporting aunt with his love for high style. But all this is not to say that Guadagnino has forsaken features: This month he begins shooting Body Art, based on Don DeLillo’s The Body Artist: A Novel, starring Isabelle Huppert and Sigourney Weaver, with costumes by Raf Simons for Dior. He’s also in talks with Grace Coddington to bring her dishy memoir to the big screen.

From top, two stills from Guadagnino's shorts for Cartier.

Behind the scenes of “A Bigger Splash,” Starring Dakota Johnson and Tilda Swinton

“I am making Dakota listen to a piece of music by my composer, John Adams. (That’s Matthias behind her). This often happens with me—I want to use John’s work before I start shooting the movie, so I shoot the scene to the timing of the piece.”

“A portrait of me, Tilda, and Dakota. I’m in a terrible tank top, again. Anyway, a lovely moment. Tilda and I are like brother and sister; and Dakota was such a great discovery. I love them so much that, yes, we want to be together again, in my next film Suspiria … and again and again.”

“These are the monitors showing Tilda, as Marianne Lane, going to talk to the police about an incident that happens. You can see the power of Tilda’s face. Pantelleria is such a specific space. I wanted the actors to be put in jail by the strength of the place. We were bound to the island for two and a half months.”

“I’m directing Lily McMenamy and Aurore Clement. They were the comic relief of the movie, these socialites they were playing. I’ve directed Aurore in the past, and I discovered Lily backstage at a Fendi show in Milan. She was singing a song from my previous movie, I Am Love. We became instant friends.”

“I’m showing how Ralph should act with his daughter, played by Dakota. They have a tricky father-daughter thing. I see behind them one of my greatest collaborators on the right, Fernanda Perez on the right, who is the makeup artist. Much praise to her work on this film.”

“In this picture you see Manolo Garcia, the hairdresser in the dark sweater and hat. We did I Am Love together, and will work again on my next feature. You see Tilda is wearing a scarf; the wind was so wild it would’ve destroyed her hair.”

“A close-up of Dakota in the pool. See the concentration, the intelligence in her eyes. She was shooting a scene where she is floating on the water as her father, played by Ralph Fiennes, is dancing to the Rolling Stones.”

“I’m very tired, and a little bit burned. It’s interesting how golden Tilda is in this picture. I remember we shot a scene by a lake at the very beginning of the shoot, but the actors didn’t have time yet to get very tan, so we had to go back and shoot it again at the end.”

“This is the last day of the shoot—a concert scene. We just got this beautiful Dior jumpsuit that I am adjusting on Tilda. We shot the concert in a stadium in front of 70,000 people. Thrilling! But her character is not really based on Bowie. It’s Chrissie Hynde, it’s Roisin Murphy. But Bowie is our DNA in general, so he is everywhere.”