IS THERE A CONNECTION BETWEEN CONTEMPORARY DESIGNERS AND USAGE OF NARRATIVES AND FILMS IN PROMOTION OF THEIR COLLECTION?
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR CONTEMPORARY DESIGNERS TO UTILISE NARRATIVES & FILMS IN PROMOTION OF THEIR COLLECTIONS?
HOW NARRATIVES AND FILMS INFLUENCE CONTEMPORARY DESIGNERS TO PROMOTE THEIR COLLECTION?
RESEARCH SUPPORTING MATERIAL WITH OUTCOMES:
HISTORY OF FASHION AND NARRATIVES:
Unfolding Fashion’s Fictions: Fashion Film and the Narrative Possibilities of Dress
The 50s&60s in Literature and Culture
Fashion and Cinema
Fashion plays a pivotal role in constituting a character’s make-up in film, functioning as an intermediary between character and narrative. In addition to the character’s cinematic presentation, fashion OFFERS insight about the wearer, implying that the exterior façade offers enlightenment to the character’s emotional core. By facilitating this character revelation, the character’s fashion establishes connection between the character’s identity and the story of the film.
There has been a long-standing debate concerning fashion’s role in film on the grounds of purpose and art: whether clothes serve as mediators to narrative and character, or as an independent art spectacle (Bruzzi 8). Peter Wollen states that fashion caters to both sides, depending on the cinematic tradition: Hollywood has a “safe” approach to fashion while European art cinema valued fashion as “an integral part of the overall look of the film which was genuinely treated as another art-form in its own right” (13). The tradition of Italian cinema illustrates fashion fulfilling the requirements of plot and story. According to Jane Gaines, clothing within this cinematic tradition has the power of empathy; in addition to script and settings, the concomitant use of clothing sustains the characters’ roles in the storyline (208).
Fashion and clothing not only serve as practical liaisons between narrative and character, but assist in the integration of psychoanalysis in its plot and story. According to Franca Sozzani, “fashion…is nourished on dreams, memories, fantasy, suggestions, and emotions” (22). Supporting this proposal, Sigmund Freud developed psychoanalysis, or Freudian Psychology, which consists of: a) the investigation of one’s mind and thoughts; b) the sets of theories about human behaviors; and, c) the treatment of psychological or emotional illness (Moore and Fine 78). Italian cinema has interpreted psychoanalytical components through means of the pleasure in looking and the fascination of the human form. A division of this pleasure entails of the phenomenon known as scopophila, which Freud proposes as “one of the component instincts of sexuality”; it consists of taking in other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze (Mulvey 7-8). The gaze is focused on the form and the form’s actions, but the presentation of the form, facilitated by clothing, assists in capturing and maintaining this gaze.
Proposed by Laura Mulvey, women signify the image while men are the bearer of looks in cinema; women hold on to and play to the men’s look and their desire (9-10). Women are an essential element in narrative film, “yet [their] visual presence tends to work against the development of a story line, to freeze the flow of action in moments of erotic contemplation. This alien presence then has to be integrated into cohesion with the narrative” (5). Visual presence has an authoritative command on the storyline, either supplementing the narrative or disassociating from it. Visual presence includes character portrayal—in this sense, fashion contributes to either the support or the frustration of the narrative by dictating the appearance of characters.
Frederico Fellini’s La dolce vita (1959) serves as a social critique on vogue and trends, fashion, love, the holiday culture, and desire. Described as a “‘portraitist’ of society, attentive and precise, Fellini said in an interview concerning Satyricon: “Rome in the age of decadence resembles our world today a great deal, with this dark craving to enjoy life, the same violence, the same vacancy of principles, the same desperation, the same fatuity” (qtd. in Sozzani 22). Not only did he choose costumes on the basis of historical periods, but also on the “psychology of the characters”, which parallel the deficiencies of Fellini’s view of Rome. (Sozzani 22). One particular aspect of culture that Fellini criticizes is the bourgeoisie world, which is represented by Maddalena. Maddalena (Anouk Aimée) is a wealthy heiress and represents the NOUVEAU RICHE. The protagonist Marcello (Marcello Mastroianni) is in search for meaning and interacts in different environments throughout his quest; although Maddalena and Marcello are from different worlds, she is just as lost as he is.
Unfolding Fashion’s Fictions: Fashion Film and the Narrative Possibilities of Dress
Fashion advertisements and editorials have developed compelling stories of romance, mystery and glamour around clothing, which highlights the importance of narrative in the representation of dress. In the quest for an ever-more spectacular fashion image, the primacy of fashion photography in mediating that image has recently been challenged by the phenomenon of the short fashion film. This new commercial medium has persuasively extended the narrative possibilities of dress through cinematic convention and self-reflexive referencing. This paper considers and analyses several examples of the short fashion film to argue that two distinct formats have emerged within this burgeoning genre. In what I term ‘fashion as character’ exclusive fashion brands employ big budgets, renowned directors and glamorous celebrities to create extended advertisements that cast the fashion object as a central protagonist. In ‘fashion as action’ open-ended scenarios are positioned as a form of artistic cultural activity, employing avant-garde film-making techniques to convey the fashion object as the unfolding drama.
Specifically, this paper will argue that short fashion films employ two vastly different narrative structures that position the viewer as either a passive reader or an active author. The ‘fashion as character’ film’s constrictive format fuels the reader’s consumptive desire in the quest for identity construction, while the enigmatic narrative of the ‘fashion as action’ film allows for the spectator’s authorial engagement and masquerade. In articulating this distinction, the paper will compare these differing narrative structures to that of the photographic fashion magazine editorial in order to elucidate how the moving image has changed the way the spectator experiences fashion.
Increasingly, fashion exists through its representation in narrative form. In particular, Roland Barthes seminal text, The Fashion System, articulated the network of meaning that occurs between the fashion object, image, text and reader. In
emphasising the role of ‘written’ clothing in the fashion narrative process, Barthes established that the photographic image translated into language, was able to transform dress into fashion, where ‘written’ clothing unlike ‘real’ or ‘image’ clothing has no practical or aesthetic function, operating purely on a semiotic level to convey meaning.i For Barthes, ‘written’ clothing is able to translate details that fashion photography cannot, opening out for the reader the invisible aspects of the image. Specifically, he claims, ‘it endows the garment with a system of functional oppositions (for example fantasy/classic) which the real or photographed garment in not able to manifest in as a clear manner’.
While text continues to play an important role in the representational discourse of contemporary fashion, it has become increasingly evident that visual language is equally convincing in providing clothing with narrative structure and content. As fashion theorist Patrizia Calefato explains,
The clothed body is thus a body whose openings, confusion of signs and intersections of discourse assume a profound value. One need only think of the cross-textural strategies that fashion…exploits: photography, cinema, literature, figurative art, and urban culture are all endless sources of images upon which fashion draws, and which in turn, are themselves inspired and nourished by fashion.
Over the course of the twentieth century fashion photography became the primary purveyor of fashion narrative to the extent where the fashion image has become as culturally significant as the fashion object itself. Compelling stories of romance, drama, mystery and suspense have been constructed around clothing, providing the fashion object with its mythic and symbolic quotient. Photographic fashion narrative has been present in magazine editorials and advertising since the 1920s and 30s,iv however, as Susan Kismaric and Eva Respini claim, one of the most significant changes to occur in fashion photography since the 1990s has been that clothing ‘has become subordinate to the photographic depiction of lifestyle: transformed from a frozen object of beauty to a tantalizing aspect of narrative’.v Fashion photographers and stylists have constructed serial images that employ ambient lighting, sets and props, casting garments as secondary characters to stories of eroticism, death and psychological tension.
More recently, the dominance of fashion photography’s mediation of the fashion image has been challenged by the phenomenon of the short fashion film. Given that the narrative turn in fashion photography has created persuasive and desirable fashion scenarios, it is unsurprising that the glamour and melodrama of the cinema has been adopted by the fashion industry as a marketing method. As Calefato suggests, The cinema in particular, constitutes one of the most complete and multifarious universes of social imagery, and has a more important role in relation to fashion than photography, because of its ability to empower sensibility through the complexity of signs, discourses and modes of perception that bring it into play.
Film and the fashion system have always shared a symbiotic relationship of commercial and cultural influence: historian Adrienne Munich argues that, ‘from the earliest film era, Fashion appreciated its affinity with film as a means to enhance its visibility. This affinity extended beyond aesthetics to encompass a connection between mutually advantageous industries’.vii These relationships are many and varied, and include the role of the couturier as costume designer (e.g., Jean Paul Gaultier, Coco Chanel), the prevalence of fashion in so-called ‘boutique flicks’ (e.g., The Devil Wears Prada, Sex and the City)viii and the impact of the celebrity red-carpet catwalk.
In the last decade, luxury fashion labels have increasingly emphasised the connections between fashion and film by employing acclaimed film directors to develop extended advertisements for their products. Through cinematic convention and self- reflexive referencing, these short films create further cultural cache for the fashion object. As fashion reporter Suzy Menkes argues, short fashion films ‘have become the hottest new fashion accessory — a way to bring emotion and visual excitement to branding for the YouTube generation’.ix In particular, online video has transformed how fashion is mediated, with short fashion films distributed through new digital channels, brand websites, and online fashion magazines. These new formats have made moving fashion increasingly popular and accessible to a global audience. The aesthetic possibilities of this new media phenomenon has lead many designers to experiment with more esoteric forms of filmic narrative that are less clearly branded content and instead a contemplation of the flow of fashion as a moving image. As photographer and short fashion film-maker, Nick Knight argues:
When a designer produces a piece of clothing it is to be seen in movement…designers have had to accept that’s not how their clothes would be seen…fashion has almost solely been represented by the still image…with the advent of the internet, the garment can now be shown in the way it was intended.x
This paper analyses several examples of the short fashion film to argue that two distinct formats that have emerged within this burgeoning genre. In what I term ‘fashion as character’, exclusive fashion brands employ big budgets, renowned directors and glamorous celebrities to create extended advertisements that cast the fashion object as a central protagonist. In ‘fashion as action’, open-ended scenarios are positioned as a form of artistic cultural activity, employing avant-garde film-making techniques to convey the fashion object as the unfolding drama.
Specifically, this paper will contend that short fashion films employ two vastly different narrative devices that position the viewer as either a passive reader or an active author. The ‘fashion as character’ film’s constrictive format fuels the reader’s consumptive desire of the reader in the quest for identity construction, while the enigmatic narrative of the ‘fashion as action’ film allows for the spectator’s authorial engagement and masquerade. In articulating this distinction, the paper will compare these differing narrative structures to that of the photographic fashion magazine editorial in order to elucidate how the moving image has changed the way the spectator experiences fashion.
The Short Fashion Film: ‘Fashion as Character’
Chanel’s first fragrance film, Share the Fantasy,xi directed by Ridley Scott in 1979 has proven to be a catalyst for the future of fashion advertising, whereby famous directors, including Baz Lurhmann, Martin Scorsese and Sophia Coppola, have created branded content for exclusive fashion houses that operate as entertainment. While early examples of the genre were designed for cinema advertisement and television broadcast, increasingly, brands such as Chanel, Dior, Prada and Gucci have exploited the ‘clip culture’ of online communities to distribute catwalk shows and short-films.xii As Susie Khamis and Alex Munt argue, ‘the auteurs of modern cinema [have been enlisted] to create films that don’t just sell scent, but tell a story—branding as narrative, not merely allusion’.xiii
The consumer’s cinematic literacy is significant to the advertisement’s reception as a cultural product. For example, No. 5 the Film,xiv directed by Baz Lurhmann for Chanel in 2004 made specific reference to Lurhmann’s feature film, Moulin Rouge through the casting of Nicole Kidman as the central character in a love story between a celebrity and an unknown writer. Similarly, the Lady Dior series of four films starring Marion Cotilliard and a collection of Dior handbags each employs big- name directors, Olivier Dahan, Johans Akerland, David Lynch and John Cameron Mitchell, along with their individual cinematic lexicons. For example, Lynch’s sixteen-minute Lady Blue Shanghaixv features a number of the director’s leitmotifs— an obscure storyline, flashing lights, flashbacks, a blue rose and haunting music.
In commissioning Lynch to make the film, Dior attempts to merge art and commerce, providing the luxury brand with cultural cache by associating the label with the vision of an avant-garde director. Yet, I would argue that while the film is not an obvious advertisement it still fails to obscure its commercial imperative. The bag’s entrance is a spectacular one, literally appearing in a flash of light and puff of smoke. This rather tawdry device acts as a parody of Lynch’s previous work and so his oeuvre is cast as a commodity in the same mode as the Dior handbag. The branded product becomes a central character that undergoes a transformation from a source of anxiety to a fetish object that replaces Cotilliard’s love interest.
While Lynch’s film and others like it bring the commercial closer to art, they fail to transcend the demarcation between the two. I contend that this is because of the inherent temporal structure of the medium and linear nature of the narratives that the ‘fashion as character’ film employs. The Dior series of films, and other similar advertisements, leave little space for the reader’s authorship of the narrative. As Christian Metz suggests, the timing of the cinematic lexis is determined by the filmmaker, as opposed to the photographic lexis, which has no fixed duration, and so it is the spectator who is the master of the look. In the case of serial fashion photography, the relationship between images allows the reader to both complete and elude the narrative. The sequencing of photographs in magazine editorials refers to both a past actuality and possible future lives into which the author can project themselves, and so masquerade as different identities. This process is described by Ulrich Lehman thus:
The photographer takes the sequential progression of narrative film images and pries them apart…and thereby leaves huge gaps between syntactically unconnected pictures, that require the spectator to…create the storyline.xvii
Thus, while a given editorial might suggest a temporal flow in time through sequencing, in the case of serial fashion photography, the mental spatial framework that exists between images encourages the reader’s authorial engagement, and so they play a part in the construction of fashion. Where the magazine editorial requires the spectator to implicate themselves in the story’s completion, the ‘fashion as character’ film has a self-regulating structure that maintains and closes itself, where the drive of the film offers beginning, middle and end, and character, dilemma and solution without the reader necessarily involving themself in the scenario. I propose that with this type of fashion film, the resonance of the fashion object appears to the reader as a constructed commercial product rather than a prop that provokes an internalised fantasy. Despite the seductiveness of the fashion film’s glamorized surface, it fails to conceal the world of consumption that drives it, instead inviting the spectator to revel in it.
The Short Fashion Film: ‘Fashion as Action’
While many fashion films are problematic in disguising their advertising purposes, they nevertheless do offer something that still photography cannot: the possibility for clothing to be alive and moving on the body. Film has the ability to animate fashion: it echoes fashion’s transience while photography can only capture it. Peter Wollen describes this metaphoric difference whereby ‘film is like fire, photography is like ice. Film is all light and shadow, incessant motion, transience, flicker… Photography is motionless and frozen, it has the cryogenic power to preserve objects through time without decay’.xviii As Metz suggests, the ‘immobility and stillness of photography lends it authority’, yet these same characteristics also render the medium deathly.xix That fashion is never static indicates the suitability of film as a medium to mediate fashion as a constantly changing image. How, then, can the flow of fashion be captured while also considering its narrative potential in a way that is neither constrictive nor definitive?
I propose that an alternate space for fashion narrative has emerged in the convergence of still and moving images in Nick Knight’s Showstudio.com. The films and interactive projects featured on this website offer hybrid images that engage with methods appropriate to serial photographic narrative while adopting filmic techniques such as slow motion and montage editing. As Knight explains, ‘a piece of film is a sequential event and therefore a narrative starts to impose itself more quickly… what I’m asking people to do is express fashion in movement: its subtly different from asking someone to make a film’.xx
For example, Knight’s film Cygnetxxi vacillates between filmic motion and photographic still. Through liquid-like dissolves the film highlights the shifting dance of the model’s poses and the fluid movement of fabric. Feathers and chiffon behave like brushstrokes on a black canvas background: clothing traverses over the body seeking out its peaks and inclines–a landscape that is unfixed and constantly changing. Champagne tulle creates a shimmering aurora of texture and tone. Rather than a character or prop of previous photographic or filmic narratives, fashion is the unfolding action- an abstract painting in cloth. The story develops through the tactile quality of the garments that suggest a slowly unfolding beauty of mood, tone and texture. While this might be an obscure and untethered fiction for the reader to engage with, its enigma is such that the viewer is able to fabricate their own fantasy between the montage of images. As Margaret Maynard argues, ‘imprecise narratives with formal aesthetic qualities, the wow factor of the look, its setting and no-plot story, create a powerful effect, drawing the viewer into the scenario’.
I argue that this film might be considered more closely related to art rather than advertising—and thus more successfully obscure its commercial purpose—because its narrative structure is more closely aligned with the fashion magazine editorial. As such, it provokes authorial engagement as opposed to the cinematic form that aims for narrative immersion. This is exemplified by Knight’s framing, which pays tribute to the double-page-spread magazine layout, but perhaps more particularly, in the performance of gestures and postures undertaken by the model, which is reminiscent of a photo-shoot. In this film, the model’s body is constantly in motion, yet its action is punctuated by stillness evocative of the photograph. The immobility of the model in the fashion photograph means that she is momentarily fixed in order to display details of the garment. In the case of Knight’s fashion film, I would suggest that the momentary frozen gesture offers the reader a space within the film’s temporal framework to insert themselves, and author their own fashion narrative of identity masquerade. This fashion narrative is not so much about the false desire of the commodity form, but rather how the arresting flow of moving fabric can offer an experience of embodying fashion to the reader.
The short fashion film has been adopted by the fashion industry as a new advertising medium. Many of these films, especially those created as advertisements for luxury brands, rely on a closed self-regulating structure that I would suggest circumvents the viewer’s engagement in the narrative and so highlights the commercial intent of the medium. The hybrid fashion film/photograph project differs to these previous narrative forms in that the space for authorial construction occurs in the fleeting instances between the model’s poses, in the unfolding action of texture and form and in the moments when the fluttering of garments resides. Perhaps then such forms help viewers to see that fashion exists not only through clothing’s representation in narrative but through the performance of fashion as narrative in and of itself.
In recasting fashion as the narrative of his films, Knight highlights how more obviously commercial campaigns, such as Dior’s Lady Blue Shanghai, attempt to obfuscate the commodity in spectacle. While Showstudio projects such as Cygnet still engage with the spectacle of veiling fashion in seductive dream-worlds, the movement and flow of fashion suggests to the reader an experience of wearing and embodying fashion that is made more tangible. Perhaps then, what one are views in Knight’s hybrid still and moving images is Barthes’ ‘image’ clothing and ‘real’ clothing colliding, where the experience of wearing the physical garment, its texture, its details, its gathers, folds and pleats are conveyed to the reader through its moving image.
WHAT IS A NARRATIVE?
During my work break at the library, I was skimming through the Entertainment Weekly magazine. In one of the articles, the writer Miriam Toews put forth a fascinating expression about how she develops her novel: “You must first establish tenderness, [Mariam Toews] says. Then the excitement will build, as you put “the violence and agony of life into every note” until you must make an important decision: either return to tenderness or “continue on with the truth, the violence, the pain, the tragedy, to the very end.” Without this three-demonstration structure, I lose enthusiasm for a story quick. Also by the three-demonstration structure, I mean, the starting presents the contention, the center is when poop hits the fan, and the closure is the way that contention is determined. As indicated by the producer Edoardo Nolfo: “The three- act structure is intrinsic to the human brain’s model of the world; it matches a blueprint that is hard-wired in the human brain, which is constantly attempting to rationalize the world and resolve it into patterns. It is therefore an inevitable property of almost any successful drama, whether the writer is aware of it or not.”
Narratives is not very old concept of promoting a fashion brand through films and moving commercials. thus people are still exploring the unknown boundaries of narratives and films by Luxury brands and designers.
The more literally has been taken by LV as they have made their suitcase and travel editorial so simple yet very complex just very similar to the film Inception. The main Narrative served through this mainly is that people could connect with it not considering their Country or background. This makes LV the world’s most known and highest earning brand.
STEPS TOWARDS CASE STUDY 1:
CHRISTIAN DIOR being the one of the oldest brands which budded mainly after post war situation. Thus i have researched on how Dior changed their essence over time and used narratives for their commercials and advertisements.
Narratives has been an old form of tactic. During war situation it was used to boost people motivation telling them everythings going to be fine. Women gave up their grace and femininity for their family and for themselves while men being on the war. Soon after the war there came a designer named as Christian Dior which brought the female fashion and their grace back.
WHY DIOR AS INSPIRATION FOR THIS RESEARCH?
To keep consumers interested, build hype around a certain collection or product and create and element of mystery some fashion brands tell their story through a series of short narrative fashion films. These films often tell an unrelated brand story yet one that connects with consumers on an emotional level with product placement throughout.
Dior Fashion Film Series
One of the brands known to do this is Dior, not only have they done this with fashion products but also for their perfume adverts. It is a great way to keep consumers interested and wanting more. The Dior films have no relation to the brands history, they follow fantastical story lines, usually feature aspirational celebrities, known music artists and produced by well-known film directors. By using a combination of popular celebrities, music artists and film directors Dior not only reaches out to new media audiences but also mainstream press. Dior using known figures also creates an element of excitement, heightens the profile and draws in instant attraction- inviting in a new audience through the use of those not typically linked with the Dior brand.
Marion Cotillard (famous Parisian actress) has been the face of the Lady Dior bag since 2008 and between 2009-11 featured as the central gaze in a series of short films COMMISSIONED by Dior linked by the product placement of the famous ‘Lady Dior’ bag. The series began with The Lady Noire Affair by Olivier Dahan, followed by Lady Rouge (also featuring Franz Ferdinand) by Jonas Akerlund, then Lady Blue Shanghai by David Lynch and concluded in 2011 with two films by John Cameron Mitchell Lady Grey London and Lady Dior. Each film is representative of a different city, story, Cotillard’s character and linked with a distinctive coloured bag. The films were first available for a limited time only on the Dior website but have since been re-uploaded, which also added to the excitement of the productions- consumers like to think they’re experiencing something exclusive, it gives them a sense of importance. Although these films aren’t as Berry argues “an obvious advertisement” they without a doubt carry a promotional purpose as Berra argues that it’s the “Lady Dior bag that plays the most significant role” . Underlining that Dior produced this series of high profile films for MARKETING purposes.
These short films can be seen below, each one following a different story and type of character that is relevant to the city and bag colour. Consumers were kept in suspense while waiting for the next instalment creating an exciting and experiential MARKETING campaign.
Lady Noir Affair
Lady Blue Shanghai
Lady Grey London
L.A.dy Dior ‘The Film’
Each of these films follow it’s own narrative structure all interesting and mystical in their own way, capturing the attention of consumers. However shoe brand Salvatore Ferragamo launched a narrative fashion film series that told a story across eight episodes.
CASE STUDY 1
How has Narratives developed through the face of DIOR (1950-2014)?
AIM: Considering “Dior” as the potential brand for Case Study I went further analysing about all the commercials and films Dior has come up with and the Narrative reason according to my understanding has been stated underneath.
1950s Dior: (CHRISTIAN DIOR) As people during those days didn’t had an access to the technology that we have today thus used to use simple and a very form of Narratives which only used to inform the consumers about the designs and falls. But the emotional content was less as compared to present times.
1960s Dior: (YSL) A 21 year old designer took over the brand but showed the collection in the same old manner. Thus the narrative had no story but had feminine touch to it as Christian dior was known for its New Look.
1970s Dior: MARC BOHAN The introduction to this Designer brought life and colors to the brand. Thus the narrative was very youthful and powerful when compared to previous videos by Dior.
1980s Dior: This is the time when they came up with real Advertising as in this advertisement The Perfume launch was named as Poison which was compared to panther which tells a strong story thus have a strong narrative feel to it.
During 1980s (GIANFRANCO FERRE) there came a second advertisement as well showing the female dancing in a purple gown which went really nicely with the perfume bottle. The flowiness of the garment gave the advertisement a narrative to it.
1990s Dior: This being one of the best advertisement’s in Dior history. As it has a strong color essence and it is meant to be for a men perfume where the man’s face is not visible but the strong color and texture story goes directly with the color of the bottle.
Late 1990s Dior: (JOHN GALLIANO) This is when John Galliano came in and showed a whole different side of promotions and advertising. He used to sit down with David Lynch being the director of this 15 minutes film. He introduced a whole different side of Christian Dior thus his take on Narratives in every advertising used to be very different from the past designers.
2000s Dior: Under Galliano and David Lynch
2010s Dior: How dior had a very female outlook to the brand which now through advertisement changed into a very Godfather and gangster yet being very graceful as shown in the commercial, in this 8 minutes film. Various other films like these took Christian Dior to another level but had a changed narrative stories every time which made the brand more exciting.
DIOR RECENT: (RAF SIMON) Dior is presently taking a detour back to how it used to be during the presence of Christian Dior that is Simon is bringing back the New Look and is showing the women into very graceful and very beautifully how initially dior used to do. Thus the Narrative in itself is very simple that is bringing the real essence and forgotten brand image back yet in a powerful form.
The most recent powerful face is Jennifer Lawrence which is an inspiration to various women and is known for her “i dont give a damn” attitude. She is today’s women and people follow her. She in itself for Dior is a Narrative.
CONCLUSION: This Time line depicts the changing phases and faces of how narratives of the advertisements and films shown above as they have taken place all these past decades and how it has developed to what it is right now. With the help of brand Dior there has been a significant growth as the different designers who have undertaken Dior has pursued the brand through their personality and thus use of Narrative have been a signature look of their designer’s shadow.
The following infographic shows the growth in Dior through Narratives when added to commercials and films. This shows my first building block that how narrative are used for films which leads to promotion of the brand’s collection.
EVEN PHOTOGRAPHS NEED STORIES
1950s Dior Print Advertisements:
1960s Dior Print Advertisements:
1970s Dior Print Advertisements:
1980s Dior Print Advertising:
1990s Dior Print Advertising:
CASE STUDY 2:
RUNWAYS AND STORIES BEHIND:
THE NARRATORS/DESIGN MONSTERS:
Why DESIGN MONSTERS?
The dark side of fashion: on the lives of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano
Erin O’Connor models a McQueen design with red and black ostritch
feathers for his Voss S/S 2011 collection. Photo: Reuters
What is high fashion for? And who is high fashion for? At the end of Dana Thomas’s joint biography of Lee Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, Gods and Kings (Allen Lane), she writes that today’s fashion shows last just 12 minutes on average, while: “Designers are hired hands . . . and few outside the industry know their names.”
Haute couture presentations – which used to be society matrons’ way of picking out their wardrobe for gala balls and fundraising lunches – are now loss-leaders aimed at boosting the parts of a company’s business that MAKE REAL MONEY, such as perfume and handbag sales. A couture dress might take 100 hours to make and its sale price will never cover this, if it is sold at all; a handbag sells for upwards of a dozen times the cost of manufacture. (The most expensive bag currently on sale at Net-a-Porter is a Lady Tassel crocodile tote by Gucci, yours for £23,030.)
Because of these commercial pressures, where there was once Monsieur Lacroix or the Comte de Givenchy showing off exquisite gowns in a dove-grey showroom, today’s couture shows follow one of two formulas, both designed to attract publicity to the brand. The first is extravaganza: 50 girls done up by Chanel as milkmaids on a replica model farm, or a parade of Jean-Paul Gaultier wedding dresses finishing with Naomi Campbell wrapped in cellophane like a floral bouquet. The second option, typified by Elie Saab, is to have a beautiful but numbing parade of column gowns designed to lure actresses looking for a red-carpet outfit that won’t land them on the worst-dressed lists.
A designer’s name is now merely a brand, rather than a guarantee that the named person had anything to do with the clothes. In 2006, months after designing the Galaxy – an absurdly flattering square-necked midi dress that worked its way down the celebrity scale, from Rachel Weisz to Carol Vorderman – Roland Mouret split up with his financial backers. He might have had the ideas but they owned his name and he spent the next four years designing collections that were only allowed to use his initials. Even for those who retain some creative control, it is impossible for a single person to oversee the vast, sprawling empire of a modern label. “I tend not to like an awful lot of what is going out under my name now because it is just all product,” Vivienne Westwood told this magazine in 2012. “Who needs it? I like my Gold Label, the one that I do. The rest of my stuff comes from very talented people – and I ought not to have said what I have just said – who go to the archive and just rework it.”
The careers of McQueen and Galliano span this transition from doing fashion for fashion’s sake to regarding the frocks and theatrics as just the front of house for a huge luxury goods business. Galliano was born first, in 1960, and graduated from St Martin’s School of Art in 1988. McQueen graduated from the same college (by then renamed Central St Martins) in 1992 after a period as an apprentice in Savile Row and working for an Italian designer. Both were from working-class London families – Galliano’s father was a plumber, McQueen’s a taxi driver – and both grew up gay at a time when the Sun was still running stories about “poofter” vicars and pundits referred to Aids as “the gay plague”. As a result, both felt anxious about their roots: Galliano hid his homosexuality from his Catholic family and reinvented himself as a louche dandy, wearing a Salvador Dalí pencil moustache and shirts unbuttoned to the navel. McQueen went the other way: he cultivated a reputation as an East End loudmouth, effing and blinding and claiming that he wrote swear words on the inside of a jacket for Prince Charles while working on Savile Row. (One French journalist, aghast, shuddered over “that haircut, très football-club de Liverpool”.) Their differing styles are perfectly illustrated by the way they chose to take their bow after a collection: Galliano would appear dressed as Napoleon, or a matador; McQueen once came out and dropped his trousers.
McQueen had another reason for building a shield around himself. Andrew Wilson’s new biography, Alexander McQueen: Blood Beneath the Skin(Simon & Schuster), written with the co-operation of the McQueen family, reveals that he was raped as a child by his brother-in-law. The trauma haunted several of his early collections, which featured models smeared with blood, or criss-crossed with tyre prints. (Thomas’s book also alludes to the abuse, with perhaps the most jaw-dropping wrong-headedness I’ve read this year: “The attack didn’t turn him into a homosexual – he knew by then that he was gay. But it did destroy him emotionally and psychologically.”)
Both men struggled initially in the industry, scraping together the money for the early shows that made their name, and both dealt with the stress heaped on them by success by turning to drink and drugs. Thomas and Wilson conjure up the particular madness of the fashion treadmill, with its constant quest for newness and the inevitability that a triumph would be followed by a fall. By definition, you cannot be the height of fashion year after year.
There are other similarities. Both relied on an aristocratic female patron and muse in their early days who was unceremoniously ditched when they got famous. In Galliano’s case, it was Amanda Harlech, who styled his shows and gave them their distinctive look. When he was hired by Givenchy and then Dior, she got phased out – and ended up moving to Chanel, where Karl Lagerfeld has since relied on her for decades. For McQueen, the soulmate was Isabella Blow, a bipolar socialite with a taste for enormous hats. She championed McQueen when she worked at Vogue, but he dumped her when he succeeded Galliano at Givenchy. In 2007, she killed herself by drinking weedkiller in the garden of her country home.
These books are haunted by suicides and burnouts. Days after his beloved mother died from cancer in 2010, McQueen hanged himself in his Mayfair flat. He had left an unfinished collection full of religious icons and macabre feathers: he had designed his own requiem. (His funeral, at St Paul’s, was fabulous, too.)
It is possible that Galliano might have followed the same path. In 2007 his closest colleague, Steven Robinson, told his demanding, moody, bingeing master that he was leaving after 20 years together. Robinson told the rest of the staff he was going to visit his parents in England; instead he visited his cocaine dealer, went home and snorted lines until he had a heart attack. Galliano carried on working, just as he did when his father died. Then, in 2011, the house of cards collapsed. Galliano assaulted a woman at a Paris café, telling her: “Dirty Jew face, you should be dead.” Footage then emerged of a previous anti-Semitic rant. He was fired.
Hitting rock bottom probably saved Galliano’s life. He has since told a court that he was a “BLACKOUT” addict, unable to form new memories. After the scandal broke, he went into rehab and is only now tentatively returning to work in fashion.
It is always too easy to ascribe a single cause to a suicide or mental breakdown but it does not seem unreasonable to implicate the fashion industry in Galliano’s and McQueen’s fates. Their success came at a cost: those around them were either too scared for their jobs to question the binges and dysfunctional lifestyle, or too willing to look the other way as long as the clothes kept coming out and the profits kept rolling in. Thomas records that while at Dior, Galliano did not know how to send an email or withdraw CASH from an ATM and he never learned to drive or had to use the Paris Métro. In this bubble, no wonder he decided that the vagrants he saw on his morning runs along the Seine were “romantic” and promptly created a high-fashion collection based on the homeless and the mentally ill.
That outrage must surely be the inspiration for “Derelicte”, the centrepiece of Ben Stiller’s satirical comedy Zoolander (2001), which skewered the ridiculous self-importance of the fashion world. Reading these books, I took to scrawling “Zoolander” in the margins whenever something eyebrow-raising happened: when Galliano went to a friend’s funeral in a pair of gold sequinned shorts, or when McQueen’s mum, who spent his early shows backstage OFFERING skinny women lemonade and sandwiches, sat in the front row and watched a model wearing a pair of trousers so low-slung they were nicknamed “cuntsters” pretend to put her finger in her vagina and then lick it.
“She thought it was shocking but she understood the meaning behind it all,” McQueen said at the time.
Beyond the provocations and the pomposity, what about the clothes? I have always loved Galliano’s work at Dior, particularly his huge, exquisite ball gowns in pastel silks, folded like origami or screen-printed like petals. But while these demonstrate all the beauty and intricacy that a team of couture seamstresses can muster, they are first and foremost pretty frocks. McQueen’s creations, many of which will be on display at the V&A in London in the retrospective “Savage Beauty” from 14 March, come closer to art: the iridescent shoals of stiff-hipped minidresses from his Plato’s Atlantis collection, complete with the deformed shapes of his “armadillo” shoes; the gown made of hundreds of razor clam shells that Erin O’Connor ripped apart on stage in his Voss show; the aluminium corset that had to be screwed on to the model for his 1999 collection the Overlook. If fashion is a constant struggle between creativity and commercialism, then Alexander McQueen was its scrappiest prizefighter.
HOW DID THEIR LIFE AFFECT THEIR COLLECTIONS AND DESIGNS?
These designers treat fashion as theatre – drama or comedy. Their collections tell stories, each with a thrilling climax. Beyond that, their entire careers also read like narrative arcs. They are adventurers, besides being outstanding characters in their own right.
McQueen always started every collection with an idea or a concept for the runway presentation before the fashions. After the concept, he would have this elaborate sort of storyboard with these various references from art, from film, from music—his influences from everywhere. There’s a famous story about how he was watching Friends one day, and Joey was wearing a green sweater, and Joey’s green sweater inspired an aspect of his collection. So he was such a sponge that inspiration came from everywhere. The actual creative process in terms of the clothes themselves were often designed directly on the mannequin during a fitting. So fittings, for McQueen, were incredibly important.
I think that McQueen saw life cinematically, and I think that that approach to life was something that you see very clearly on the runway. So his interest in extreme weather conditions was part of that sort of dramatic view of life. And I think that one of the reasons why he loved nature so much was because it was so unpredictable. They were spontaneous; it was something that one can never control, and I think that was always something he liked to show in his collections.
Every collection told a story. When you watched one of McQueen’s collections, you were always having these feelings of awe or wonder or fear or terror. My personal opinion was that McQueen was channeling the Sublime through his collections. And certainly the Sublime experience was something that certainly affected the audience. You were always not sure what to expect when you went into a McQueen show. And you also didn’t know what you felt when you left a McQueen show at the same time. You always were left with sort of feelings of confusion, and McQueen often said that he didn’t care whether you liked his collections or not, as long as you felt something.
Ensemble The Girl Who Lived in the Tree, autumn/winter 2008–9
Coat of red silk satin; dress of ivory silk chiffon embroidered with crystal beads
Sam Gainsbury (Producer of the runway): “Mostly Lee would have a very clear idea of who the girl was, and then from that point he would decide where she was, and then he’d decide what she was wearing. He had an amazing tree in his garden in Fairleigh, in his country house, and this tree had always fascinated him. So for me it was about the beauty and the power of this tree”.
In McQueen’s Words “I don’t really get inspired [by specific women]. . . . It’s more in the minds of the women in the past, like Catherine the Great, or Marie Antoinette. People who were doomed. Joan of Arc or Colette. Iconic women.”
John Galliano 2005-2006 HAUTE COUTURE: The generally hidden interior details that marked the elaborate constructions of couture gowns in the 1950s, such as grosgrain waist tapes, bust pads, and tulle underskirts, are exposed and transformed into the decorative elements of the dress. Structure, therefore, becomes ornament. In a Surrealist displacement, the humble pincushion worn by fitters and sample hands of the atelier is transfigured into a bracelet when shown on the runway. A similar reassignment of function occurs when Galliano shifts a padded bra cup from the bust to the hip. It is a knowing but ironic reference to Christian Dior’s “New Look” silhouette, which relied not only upon the cinching of the waist but also on the padding of the bust and hips to establish a more pronounced curvilinear silhouette.
In Galliano words: “This look is taken from the couture collection we did to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Mr. Dior’s birth. For this show we took different sections, defining moments, from Mr. Dior’s life: Granville, his mother, his love of the arts, his clients, and, of course, the “New Look.” This particular look came from the construction phase, where Mr. Dior would work with “his flowers”: his models Victoire, France, and Lucky.
This dress shows the process of construction not deconstruction. What sets couture apart from ready-to-wear is the ateliers, the workmanship, and the amazing attention to detail—nothing is impossible and imagination becomes even more beautiful. For this look I wanted to show the magic of the draping on the form, how the block to the toile to the final gown is created, and all its stages in between. We did lots of “X-ray” fabrics, worked with tulle so you could look through and see—and appreciate as well as understand—all the layers of construction”.
CONCLUSION: As the research sums up with this slide and hence proves that how well they were in theatrical fashion shows depicting narratives at their best.
My past research was well informing me about the theoretical part of narratives but was still not informing me enough.
Thus while going through videos by show studio and other websites promoting Fashion films, there came a question in mind that agreed that their experience informs their quality of work but how do they get these ideas and how do execute them in a way that the viewer gets in a zone of awestruckness.
Thats when I came up with the question of my 3rd research case study as I was very eager to step in their shoes and force my brain to vomit ideas as they did.
CASE STUDY 3:
“What “ingredients” are needed and in what quantity to result with a perfect Narrative Fashion Film?“
SECONDARY RESEARCH AND NARRATION
Challenging the norms of traditional advertising techniques and moving fashion shoots, designers have embraced film as an art form and have moved away from perfume-bottle-monologues and the use of mundane product placement. Bridging the gap between reality and fantasy: the creative’s use of tech, their collaborations and their futuristic approach to video have created a powerful intersection between feature film, documentary and fashion.
IN THE RED
Eliza Cummings plays the ‘scarlet woman’ in this Dazed Digital original, directed by ongoing Dazed collaborator Ruth Hogben and styled by AnOther Magazine’s fashion director, Katie Shillingford. The film is filled with flamenco, movement and of course, lots of red. Hogben explores the relationship between strength and sensuality and treads the fine line between fashion and dance. Hogben told us her thoughts on fashion film for the December issue, “The term ‘fashion film’ makes it feel small, but when I think about film as a whole the choices are endless. As a medium, it’s just such a rich, deep, strong way of communicating a woman and a designer’s thoughts. There’s so much to discover and so much to do.”
Artist Quentin Jones becomes the focus of her film Paint Test No.1. Using her own body as the canvas, she gradually covers herself with thick black paint. The film meshes footage with Jones’ signature illustration, resulting in a stunning visual example of self-expression.
REINCARNATION OF KATE MOSS
As the last model in Alexander McQueen’s AW06 show disappeared from the runway, it appeared the show was over. But as the room darkened an image of floating blue fabric unravelled into an apparition of Kate Moss, floating amongst the layers until eventually spinning into a puff of blue smoke and vanishing. The moment was masterminded by McQueen and video maker Baillie Walsh. An early form of the hologram, the effect is actually known as ‘Pepper’s Ghost,’ where a film is projected onto glass or mirrors, a technique used in the early days of film. The technological feat is now one of the most iconic images and moments in fashion show history.
TO THREE DAYS
In 2010, Gareth Pugh took up residency in SHOWstudio’s LiveStudio to create a couture gown in three days, with the process being broadcast live to a global audience. The edited 10-minute film charts the moment that Pugh lays the fabric on the cutting table, to his finished dress. The action is played out against the fragmented musical soundtrack he listens to, punctuated with typical questions such as, “We are gonna have enough fabric, aren’t we?” Pugh asks his assistant. The film is an insightful, rarely shared, behind-the-scenes look at just how painstaking and lengthy the process of making a single couture garment can be.
Gabilo “Melancholy” fall-winter 2010-2011 fashion film
Acousmatic: Vera Ivanova; Directed, cut, camera: Andrey Nikolaev; Starring: Natasha Sych; Styling: Danila Polyakov; Producer: Oleg Rozenthal. As an allegoric image, melancholy has found its embodiment in works of many visual artists. One of the most well-known works is the engraving by Albrecht Dürer Melancholy , which depicts a winged woman, sitting motionless in the center of the image, and holding a compass in one hand. One of the common interpretations of this image is an allegoric representation of the power and limitations of the human mind. This fashion film is not only a base to my final major project but is also a inspiration to something I would like to make in my life.
Some more videos inspiring me towards my Final major project keeping in mind my inspiration/client/Design Monsters in mind:
The expressions and activities for the model/actress: This video is going to be a reference for the model for the actions and acting for Infection.
GUY BOURDIN EXHIBITION:
The motive of this research was to see the photographer’s perspective not through a lay man’s perspective but through the perspective of a narrator. This caused various questions like how did he do it, what would he be thinking while this idea clicked, what could have been the inspiration, etc.
Major set of pictures are shown in “Narratives through photography” section in the blog.
These set of picture were according to me real important and special skilled pictures thus have shown them as my exercise of narrative:
The shadow plays an important role in this picture and the free falling effect in the picture is telling a different and a unordinary story for the picture. Gives a ghost look to the picture. Lighting plays an important part keeping the background very plain.
This is a picture with maximum story telling element. Making product placement a key ingredient in this picture where clothing on hangers depicts fashion and models depicting death. Story being told is that all the fashion remains and the person leaves for death empty handed.
The preparation behind these pictures made the pictures worth looking and observing. Guy Bourdin is famous for his pre planning and results. Thus this image depicting the hard work and lot of thinking process is gone while the storyline is decided.
This image showing maximum fashion without the presence of the model in it. The narrative is strong and has high visual views. The water droplets looks glitter which makes the picture sync with the necklace or the jewelry piece thats shown. The other picture on the right again show the abilities of Guy Bourdin to play with the lights and shadows, thats what makes the picture appealing.
The rhythmic lines makes the picture more effective and shows the contrast so perfectly of white over black as it shows the height of the world and the in that world 1 person waiting for someone else.
One of the interviews done before informs well out the Narratives and story telling technique in advertising which goes hand in hand with the film making keeping the basic aesthetics of drama in mind
The interview done before during the Laura Lee Jewellery advertisement project with AD- GURU Mr. Prahlad Kakkar as he mentioned his first struggles to make short ads and films. “ The only thing you need to keep in mind is that people buy emotions behind the brand not the product of the brand, so always use your creative instincts merging them with your emotional insights and then prepare your final outcome”. Keeping his words in mind the storyboard was made.
His thoughts has always worked for me while making any film or pitching any film idea thus making his interview a life time lesson.
NARRATIVES AND ITS PROCESS BEHIND A FASHION FILM:
Another person whose approach is direct and has been a pioneer to set up the fashion film industry is Nick Knight who has build ShowStudio for passionate Fashion and Film makers and lovers for the same. The following video gives his approach and thought on film making which includes the definition of narratives in fashion film, the process and various dos and donts.
“Feel the fashion you are showcasing in the film”
“Make “story” the base and then fashion”
“Presenting Narratives is a film-maker’s job”
“Fashion & Films make a beautiful combination”
These being the key elements according to Nick Knights and his various other documentaries.
The Mood Board
I’m sure we’ve all created a “mood board” before — for every screenplay I start, I make its own Tumblr so I can start putting images together that capture the tones, palette, and atmospheres I’m going for. Making one of these collages is a part of submitting to Project Film Supply, too, and TMB shares several points on what to include in your Mood Board in order to “transport people into your world.”
- Time Period
- Character Styling/Mood/Emotions
- Wardrobe Considerations
- Color Palette/Tones
- Closeup and Wide Shot Details
- Set Styling and Lighting
London-based duo Silent Studios on the importance of music in fashion shows
If you were lucky enough to have been at British designer Anya Hindmarch’s SS14 show at London Fashion Week, you’ll have been in for a big surprise. As the models walked coolly up and down the catwalk in Anya’s signature designs the lights slowly began to fall, and a fun electronic musical accompaniment made way for an ethereal swathe of sound. Slowly, a series of giant planetary orbs moved into place above the audience and the bags suspended from the ceiling rose to meet them, while two aerialists swung gracefully from one star to another in a luxurious and otherworldly display of astronomy meeting fashion.
Unsurprisingly, the audience was completely enchanted, and the richness of this experience – mystical and supernatural, and in stark contrast to many of the less fantastical shows which take place during fashion week – was due in no small part to Silent Studios, which created the music for it.
Made up of Liam Paton and Nathan Prince, Silent Studios is an east London-based design, direction and music studio which creates bespoke image and sound experiences. They’ve been working together for over ten years now, and over this time they’ve come to a decidedly unique way of working on music projects. “We have developed a close, collaborative approach,” composer Liam Paton explains to me, “especially when it comes to fashion projects.
“With a catwalk show, we are working with a designer who’s been developing their collection for a long time, so we need to absorb as much as we can [from them] about the mood and atmosphere they are trying to create with the show. We have to go on a bit of a journey with the designer to work out where to position the music. We need to get inside their head to be in a position to suggest appropriate styles and tones of music. Only once we are completely clear about the approach and direction of the music do we start to compose.”
For an industry which invests so much time, money and energy in the presentation of its new collections each season, music remains surprisingly overlooked by many designers, who prefer a mixtape thrown together at the last minute to a considered, custom-made approach. “Music can so often be a rushed after-thought, but it can completely alter the tone and mood of a show,” Liam explains. “It can challenge, it can make the audience feel any number of emotions. So it feels like a missed opportunity if the music isn’t considered properly.”
“Music can so often be a rushed after-thought, but it can completely alter the tone and mood of a show. It can challenge, it can make the audience feel any number of emotions. So it feels like a missed opportunity if the music isn’t considered properly.”
Liam Paton, Silent Studios
It’s all the more important considering the density and duration of shows during fashion week, when many fashion editors and journalists spend a month travelling from venue to venue to pack in hundreds of shows one after the other. “Music is a completely emotive sense, so it’s your most useful tool if you want to change the mood of the audience or transport them to somewhere different for ten to 12 minutes,” he continues. “I’m not sure it can make or break how a collection is perceived, but I think it could help you stand out from the crowd, and make the show more meaningful or memorable.”
With fashion shows growing to be such all-encompassing experiences it’s not only the collection that Liam and Nathan must fit with – they also have the set design, lighting and production to consider. “It’s great to work as closely as possible with all the different disciplines and teams that make up a show,” Liam continues. “We’ve worked on a number of shows where there have been key moments [in set or lighting] that the sound needs to sync to. I think the most successful shows are when everything feels and moves as one, where you don’t really think about the different areas as individual components but feel the experience as a whole.”
In this respect, the aforementioned Anya Hindmarch show was something of a dream to be involved in – the concept behind it called for a fully bespoke soundtrack. “The show was being approached as if it were a scene in a feature film, and there were a number of cue points we needed to hit at key moments. This meant that licensed or sourced music was too restrictive and didn’t give us the build at the right points or in the right amount of time. By creating something from scratch, we could control the mood from start to finish and be quite detailed in how we wanted the audience to feel at any given moment. It was a lot of work but ultimately rewarding, as the reaction to the show was brilliant.”
For a couple of years now fashion designers have become increasingly broad-minded about how important music can be to that initial experience of a collection – an exciting prospect for a creative duo like Silent Studios. “I think more people are starting to realise that a mixtape of songs doesn’t cut it anymore,” Liam tells us. “This could be Burberry and the use of live musical performances within their shows, or it could be that DJs and music supervisors are putting more time and thinking into their choice of music to reflect the collection. As I said before, it feels like a missed opportunity if people don’t put time into the music, and it’s always nice to see a shift. People are realising the importance of the music, rather than it being an after-thought.”
-Posted by Maisie Skidmore, Tuesday 24 March 2015