Sofia Coppola with model Maryna Linchuk for Miss Dior Cherie.
The fashion film is almost as ubiquitous now as the print ad. Straddling the line between advertisement and art (though always more ad than art), the fashion film adds another dimension to the brand, literally and figuratively. And they vary in kinds—Prada, a pioneer of the narrative fashion short with a roster of acclaimed directors making films both for Miu Miu and its big sister Prada, or the former YSL under Stefano Pilati with a more avant-garde non-narrative slant. Some are more like glorified music videos. Then there are the models, familiar as they may be with commercial acting, are now the envy of studied actresses the world over as they get to play “real” acting parts under the tutelage of the best directors and photographers (Daria Werbowy makes a double appearance on this list, surprisingly she never made that model-turned-actress leap). And so, in saying all of this, let me introduce to you below five of my favorite fashion films of all time and of the moment.
Lady Miss Kier of Deee-lite in “How Do You Say...Love?” for Pucci
The kaleidoscopic Pucci print in all its rainbow glory and the ample cuteness of 90s dance music icon Lady Miss Kier of Deee-lite all rolled into one quick little video. The kind of lighthearted frivolity I live for. Emilio Pucci was awarded the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1991 and in honor of such an achievement he created this lovely tribute directed by the Kaminsky Brothers and staring Miss Lady Kier. Pucci and Deee-lite’s leading lady are a match made in heaven, with her penchant for anything graphic, polychromatic, and catsuit and the fact that she did that 90s does 60s look so, so well. It’s Fashion Fun with a double capital “F”—my favorite kind.
Flora by Gucci
The 2009 ad for the now iconic Gucci fragrance was a product of collaboration between creative director Frida Giannini, director Chris Cunningham, and advertising agency REM Ruini e Mariotti. Model Abbey Lee Kershaw, set in a field densely packed with the palest and most delicate flowers, breathes in the scent of a flower and becomes a conduit for some natural power unseen, her body’s movement creating a violent wave in the fragile sea of flowers like a witch who harnesses the sublime forces of nature. Set to a particularly ambient remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” by director Chris Cunningham, the film captures an eerie tone than frightens and delights.
Yves Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2010
This film is one of several installments of Stefano Pilatti’s “Manifesto” campaign which he ran for several years with each season. He created imagery for each collection to be part of his printed “manifestos” which would be distributed in fashion capitals globally in an effort to level the brand’s accessibility beyond only those who can afford it. How successful that was I have no idea but I must say I love this video. Directed by Inez and Vinoodh, we have Daria Werbowy (her first of two appearances on this list) running slow motion down a marble staircase in YSL F/ W 2010 and the best pageboy wig I’ve ever seen. You don’t need me to wax poetic about this one, its appeal speaks for itself.
Sophia Coppola for Miss Dior Cherie
I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. Sophia Coppola’s confectionary vision of Parisian Yé-yé girl clichés set to the soundtrack of Brigitte Bardot’s “Moi je joue.” All of this for the fragrance which was my signature scent at age 13, sold to my impressionably young self by a sales associate at The Bay who was peddling its popcorn heart notes. I still love it and the ad —some things never change.
Prada “Thunder Perfect Mind”
This has to be my favorite fashion film of all time. Miuccia Prada asked Ridley Scott (of Alien and Blade Runner fame) and his daughter Jordan Scott to collaborate in creating a video for the new Prada fragrance in 2005. Featured as the principle lead is Daria Werbowy, a voice over of her reciting the ancient Greek poem “The Thunder, Perfect Mind.” Dated somewhere around the first century CE, it encapsulates the endless variety of the female psyche—a feminist work before its time, Ridley Scott described the film as “an essay on women, by women.” As she reads, “For I am the first and the last, I am the the wife and the virgin, I am the mother and the daughter,” Daria Werbowy appears in various likenesses of herself (all dressed in Prada) traveling through the Berlin cityscape, embodying the poems words. Special guest appearance by the lips print skirt from Prada’s S/S 2000 collection which has eluded my wardrobe for as many years as I’ve loved it. Bittersweet.