fashion / opinion / video

Why fashion films so often flop

Words by Emma Do

Before we can hail fashion films as the way forward in fashion presentation, let’s be honest about the quality we’re seeing so far. Fashion films are more often than not, extremely tedious to watch. Raise your hand if you’ve seen one too many seven minute “shorts” of a model floating through a forest. Directors seem to forget that aesthetics alone do not make a good film in the way it can a photo. Perhaps it’s because the directors are often fashion photographers making the transition. In any case, the lack of narrative means audience engagement is likely to drop after the first 10 seconds.

Fashion films are best used to convey a broader sense of a label’s philosophy and brand identity. When the video is done well, it goes beyond just ‘showing how the clothes move’. The most memorable films allow audiences to identify with the brand, or at least offer a quirky selling point. Sure, most of us aren’t able to afford Lanvin, but after watching models do dorky co-ordinated dances, we couldn’t possibly love, covet and aspire to own a piece any less.

Here we compiled a checklist of qualities that seem to work in favour of the medium:

1) establish an engaging narrative
You don’t have to make a film adaptation of a novel, but as long as there is a story, however thin, it’s going to be better than five minutes of a model making love to the camera. Take for example Japanese brand United Arrow’s Trench Trip love story , directed by Gia Coppola. If the time limit is going to exceed that of a viral dancing cat video, make sure the story is worth watching. Case in point: Non Plus One- a video for Opening ceremony with Kiki Dunst and Jason Schwartzman (also directed by Gia Coppola).

2) go with humour
Everybody loves a laugh.
eg. Ashley Smith in Jalouse’s fashion film parody by Matthew Frost

3) pull in star power
This may be only one of the instances where the story can be a complete flop. Mainly because people want to see Karlie Kloss writhe about in an S&M scenario.

4) inject a bit of quirk
Our favourite films from this year’s NO HOME fashion film festival (an initiative to showcase the talents of local designers), all centered upon dancing.

Kuwaii reflected the fluidity of their designs in the movements of contemporary dance.

Upper Left Arm let us into their world, where fashion and fun are synonymous. Bonus points for choreographing a doable routine.

Above staged a dance off in suburbia that we imagine would have been a riot for curious folk to watch through their kitchen window.