It’s not very often you watch a fashion film with a strong narrative, and I mean a really strong narrative. Fashion movies usually have some structure to them, but this structure is not necessarily narrative and where it is, it usually manifests itself in a more obscure fashion, taking a back seat to the portrayal of a certain aesthetic, which is not a bad thing, as it can be done expertly.
But since Adam was a lad, people have loved a good story, a good strong narrative. The trick is how to bring narrative into its own in a fashion movie. Done well, strong narrative can make the movie more sophisticated. Done poorly and it leaves it dull and detracts from any impression you could hope to make on the aesthetic front.
Narrative is somewhat new to fashion movies. Back in the day, they did not use narrative. Nor were they creative. Just look at all those YouTube videos of legacy fashion shows. One after another, models wear the clothes, and someone films them. There’s usually music (slower or more upbeat), a more or less lavish set (usually less), and hair and make-up. They’re rather boring when you’ve seen the collection before, although in a way that can be hypnotic.
As fashion movies grew in sophistication, narrative began to take hold: models began to move through a more or less simple story, changing clothes as needed. There’s a musical score to add color. Great use can be made of the - sometimes very basic - sets and locations. Sometimes there is an over-reliance on make-up and hair effects. Sometimes the narrative is cryptic or obscure. Done well this creates mystery, done poorly it’s messy and dull.
Some directors of fashion movies on the other hand concentrate purely on the aesthetic. The narrative is of negligible importance or non-existent; if you took it away you would not notice any difference to the film before you. Though it’s not strictly a fashion movie, think Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.
So, fashion movies these days tend to fall into one or other of these places - narrative first, or aesthetic first. The most sophisticated fashion movies however, and the best, manage to pull off both, and in doing so tend to require larger financial, support and planning mechanisms as well as more experienced players.
Which brings me to director ‘Gia Coppola‘s DVF♥CURRENT/ELLIOTT Collaboration featuring Aubrey Plaza and Ray Liotta’ or Writer’s Block. This is an excellent fashion movie and it would be even if Ray Liotta were not in it.
As always you should watch and see what you think. But the aesthetic and narrative in the film are mutually supporting. The camera technique is varied and interesting. The narrative is strong, the score is excellent. It’s humorous. There’s a bit of mystery, a lot of silliness, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is not ashamed of what it is - an indulgent, colorful feel-good fairytale where what’s at stake is a woman’s career rather than the old tired meme of her love life. And it does all this in four minutes thirty-two seconds.
And whaddya know? It does a wonderful job of mainlining the aesthetic of a clothing line collaboration out March 2012… “DVF’s iconic prints, painterly and fresh for the season, grace CURRENT/ELLIOTT’S vintage inspired denim in jeans, shorts, skirts and the iconic wrap dress”.
Credits for the film -
Director: Gia Coppola
Producer: Sebastian Pardo
Cinematographer: Autumn Durald
Editor: Luke Lynch
Music: Robert Schwartzman
Production Design: Sara Jamieson
Stylist: Ashley Weston
Starring: Tracy Antonopoulos
Narration: Aubrey Plaza
Featuring: Ray Liotta
Asst. Stylist: Tyler Brown
Hair: Caile Noble
Makeup: Geoffrey Rodriguez
1st AC: Scott Johnson
Gaffer: Jeff Webster
Key Grip: Chuckie Lewis
Electric: Will Elder & Derek Hoffman
Set Decorator: Natalie Ziering
Set Builder: Marcus Reposar
Art Department: Carlos Laszlo, Sam Thornton, Marlon Rabenreiter
Post Sound: Brent Kiser
Digital Effects: Marcus Herring
PA’s: Daniel Kaufman, Marcus Reposar, Ben Rinehardt
Location Manager: Jordan Londe
DVF Rep: Ayanna Wilks
Exec Producer: Sofie Howard
Special Thanks: Roman Coppola, DVF, Current/Elliott, Kiori Georgiadis, Communie Images, Rik DeLisle of Panavision Hollywood