Published on November 25, 2013 | by Alastair Shone


The Importance of Fashion Film

Diane Pernet

Diane Pernet, Paris-based American-born international fashion blogger and critic [flickr: NABA Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti]

Not only does film have the power to make actors/actresses household names, make millions at the box office and influence a generation, it recently has become an important and relevant way to sell clothes.

Through the influx of the internet, the fashion landscape has had to keep up with frequency of technology. In doing so, over the last few years we have seen live-streamed fashion shows, online shopping and now fashion film.

In its infancy, fashion film was predominantly showcased on our television screens, with one of the most famous being the Chanel Number Five fragrance campaign, starring Nicole Kidman and directed by Baz Luhrmann.

Now each season, brands produce an array of fashion films in an attempt to sell their products.

In 2008, Diane Pernet’s A Shaded View On Fashion Film Festival was launched to critical acclaim for its aim to encourage artists to reconsider the way in which fashion is presented in film.


Pernet, who is a world-renowned fashion critic and video journalist, was one of the first in fashion to embrace the digital media and has become a pioneer in the field.

She told Business of Fashion what she believes is important in creating a fashion film: “For me, the criteria of what’s a good film and what’s a good fashion film are really quite the same, except that [with the latter] fashion has to be the protagonist. Just because someone is moving in front of the camera, it doesn’t make it a film. A film has a story.”

Over 100 years ago, fashion was presented in illustrative form, until around 1910 when Vogue magazine took on photography as a new medium to present fashion; although it took a while for photography to reach its true potential like we see it today, stills are never exactly how designers want their items to be shown.

When making a garment, in most cases designers do not create for a two dimensional image, garments are created to be worn.

With the emergence of fashion film, designers are now able to showcase their clothing in movement, which is essentially the most successful way in selling clothes.


Nick Knight is another pioneer of communicating fashion online; in 2000,  he established, a website that has become a leading force for fashion film.

The site produces ground-breaking projects that intend to push the boundaries within the relatively new medium of fashion film.

The site has worked with some of the most influential designers in the world, consisting of Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Rick Owens while also supporting emerging talent.

Nick described his view on fashion film on “If you ask me what makes a great fashion film? It’s very easy to answer. Great fashion makes a great fashion film. The narrative is already in that piece of clothing. So the narrative is already inside the dress, the suit or the skirt.”

It is clear that fashion film is still attempting to find it’s footing in the industry.

There have been issues surrounding lack of captivating content, budgets being misallocated and poor distribution strategies. While some brands get it right, others fail to make an impact due to poor distribution approach.


While social media is effective in reaching your fans, it is poor in attracting new fans of a brand.

The average Facebook post is seen by only 26 per cent of the total fan base, which is a weak number to attract audiences.

Brands should launch a fashion film on the correct platforms that coincide with their viewers and culture of the product.

If the content is lacklustre, then it is likely that no one will hear about it; films that are quickly pieced together with clips of photoshoots or a behind-the-scenes film with an interesting music overlay are unlikely to sell clothes.

The most popular fashion films have evoked human emotions, whether in romance or horror, these emotions help spread the word.

Fashion is an industry that visuals are put first, and while many films need to be aesthetically pleasing, and many succeed in that area, films also need to tell a story; it is common in fashion film that the storytelling falls flat behind the pretty images.


In fashion, photographers are still the most sought after to shoot a print campaign, and it is common that photographers do not have the knowledge to tell a similar story through film.

Addtionally, many brands do not have the budget to hire an experienced filmmaker to work on digital video, and it once again brings the power of fashion film under question about its stability.

Diane Pernet believes there is a need for experienced filmmakers: “What’s great today is that you have [real directors] like Wes Anderson, David Lynch and Roman Polanski doing wonderful fashion films, which is really upping the ante. Prada and Miu Miu do the best films, they really do. Because they pick directors out of the box.”

However, there is a selection of fashion films every season that exceed expectations and grab the idea of digital video with both hands. This season has seen an emphasis on narrative storytelling, including elements of fantasy and romance paired with interesting concepts. What remains is the question as to whether focusing on the storytelling truly does sell clothes. I guess we’ll find out when next season’s fashion films are released.



1. Walking Stories by Luca Guadagnino for Salvatore Ferragamo


Salvatore Ferragamo teamed up with Italian director Luca Guadagnino for a short fashion film that glorified cities, romance and of course, Salvatore Ferragamo. Starring “Skins” breakout star Kaya Scodelario, the film takes place in various cities important to the brand such as Florence, Los Angeles and Shanghai. The film has acquired over 100,000 views since it was released in October and has certainly been a successful investment for the brand. We guarantee that after watching Walking Stories, you will want to own a Ferragamo shoe.


2. “T” by Alexander Wang Fall 2013 by Darren Stein



In the past, Alexander Wang has often brought in quirky and underground music talent to showcase his spin-off line T By Alexander Wang. However, for his Fall 2013 campaign, he produced a hilarious and some might say shocking video to support the brand. In July 2013, a group of Wang fans were invited to attend an “undisclosed one-time-only event” in New York City.  As a video message by Wang himself greets them on entrance, he pursues in telling them that behind him is a warehouse full of T by Alexander Wang pieces, all available for free. Once the doors open, the hilarity ensues. The film has over 350,000 views and sparked debates about greed and consumerism.


3. Venus in FENDI by Ruth Hogben of SHOWstudio



Directed by Ruth Hogben of SHOWstudio, this 2 minute short attempts to “capture the essence of a true roman woman – a strong, confident, female.” Hogben explains that: “The Roman Woman does not perform, she is performed to.” In a series of arresting images, Hogben focuses on the staple Fendi fur using the brands pre-fall 2013 collection. While the story may not be as obvious as our other fashion films featured, the narrative is still there. The last sequence shows the roman woman shed her expensive fur and walk off into the night, keeping her Fendi heels in tact.


4. This Must Be the Only Fantasy by Todd Cole for Rodarte

If you want watch a fashion film that you could imagine being a major blockbuster hit, then this is the one. Kate and Laura Mulleavy recruited Todd Cole to direct this fantasy film starring Sidney Williams, Guinevere van Seenus and Elijah Wood. The story has all the elements of the fantastical genre, with magic wardrobe changes, alien abductors and fairy godmothers. If you watch the film from start to finish, you will truly get a sense of what Rodarte represents, a unique illusory world taken from the dullness of the suburban streets of America. With over 400,000 views on YouTube, it is one of most attractive and captivating fashion films this season.


5. Crush by Rachel Antonoff Spring 2014



Rachel Antonoff shows her capability of showcasing her collection in an original form in this six minute long short film. The New York based designer was inspired by her own parents love story and in doing so she created a funny and particularly cute tale of young love, which is appropriately aimed at her core audience and selling her brand ethos. As her parents narrate their tale over the imagery, Antonoff hired her brother Jack and Gillian Jacobs to play them. This fashion film shows how clothing can be fun and have vitality to it, as she showcases her unique prints and whimsical sweatshirts, where some are made to represent the childhood game M.A.S.H.. The film ends with Antonoff’s mother saying, “Crushes turn into pumpkins and then it turns into love.”

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