THE FRONT ROW REVOLUTION
'THE ULTIMATE LOCATION FOR A FASHION SHOW IS STILL TO FIND' Natalia V.
FRONT ROW REVOLUTION
'Every year there is a race for the absolute location for fashion shows. The Red Square in Moscow, the Palais Princier in Monaco, the Great Wall in China. The Front Row Tribe expects every year the impossible,' admits model + creative mastermind of the LVHM group.
SECRET OPERATION 'MONTE CARLO'
Princess Charlene of Monaco was the patron of the show, which coincided with the Cannes Film Festival. The Princess was at Nicolas Ghesquière's debut for Louis Vuitton in Paris.
Financial Times fashion editor, Vanessa Friedman (who is now fashion director and chief fashion critic of The New York Times), sent out a tweet fuelling speculation about Louis Vuitton’s resort 2015 show.
“More proof @LouisVuitton is getting serious abt rtw: @TWNGhesquiere’s 1st Cruise collection will have a show in Monaco next month. #FTLuxury,” she wrote.
Nicolas Ghesquière made his debut as the brand’s artistic director for autumn/winter ‘14/’15 and resort 2015 will mark his first pre-collection. If true, this could mean Ghesquière is designing four (rather than two) ready-to-wear collections per year for Louis Vuitton. Accessories have always been the French label’s strong suit but perhaps signing on Ghesquière, whose 15-year stint at Balenciaga propelled him into stardom, is a shift in focus to clothing.
A perfect orchestrated secret operation of the Louis Vuitton and LVMH group.
The concept : A nomadic resort show. Chanel has led the way with its pre-collections in Versailles, Venice, Shanghai, Moscow, Singapore, Edinburgh and Dallas and the resort show in Dubai. Dior presented resort 2014 in Monaco, while Fendi once staged a show on the Great Wall of China.
NATALIA aka SUPERNOVA / Shooting of NEVERSTOP
Model Natalia Vodianova put together the incredible film NEVERSTOP. NEVERSTOP is an organization aimed at changing attitudes toward people with special needs—not only during the Games, but all year round. “It’s a cause very close to my heart,” Vodianova says. “My younger sister Oksana was born with cerebral palsy and, during our childhood, we experienced all the stigmas associated with people who have disabilities in Russia.”
In the video, the model runs with a prosthetic leg. The end result: A powerful tribute to those with special needs all over the world.
Why did you participate in this video?
I see the problem around stigmatizing the disabled as not so much in the infrastructure and the lack of a barrier-free environment in Russia, which is only a consequence of the real problem. The real problem lies in the misguided perceptions and attitudes toward people with special needs. I knew from being in close contact with the organizing committee of the Sochi Games that there is still lack of awareness around Paralympics in Russia, and I thought that to create a viral short film was a way to reach as many people as possible. With that in mind, I took the idea, as well as my passion for the Paralympic cause and my admiration for the athlete, to one of the best advertising agencies in Russia—JWT International—and they came up with the script.
Tell us about shooting the video? Was it difficult? What were the special effects?
We shot with Bruno Aveillan, which was not a new experience for me since we worked together on the story of Shalimar, one of the oldest perfumes in the world. I knew he was an incredible talent, but also a great technician, and what I needed was to make one of my legs bionic with the help of CGI. He was my first and only choice, and luckily he kindly agreed to do it—and even waived his fee. The story of the project is quite unique, actually, because everyone involved did the same—from JWT International Moscow, Bruno and his team at Quad Productions, the makeup and hair and styling team, the composer Raphael Ibanez de Garayo, to Coca-Cola Russia, who refrained from any brand positioning or even color reference in the film to keep the message pure and genuine. We shot over two days. Going from need to an idea to a few miracles along the road in just a few months, and then to actually see it happening, was really an amazing feeling. Everyone was so happy to be part of it, and the team was so supportive and professional. We filmed when I was six months pregnant, which was far from the ideal time to do it, but I was careful and took breaks. That said, I definitely ran toward the camera with my face full of purpose, but the minute I was out of frame I would scrunch up in pain.
What do you hope people understand by watching this?
The idea of the film was to raise awareness and inspire people to watch the Paralympic Games—which just wrapped up—and also to help bring attention to important values such inclusion and tolerance. What I learned from some of the athletes is that even the biggest challenge can be seen not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity. We choose everyday the way we perceive our life, and with their strength and determination these athletes show us that you can take the best from what’s on offer, and to me, people like that should be seen as role models—they deserve only admiration, praise, and our undivided attention.
Is a Runway Show Really Necessary?
An image from the film that replaced Gareth Pugh’s usual runway show for spring/summer 2011.
By SUZY MENKES
PARIS — On a giant screen figures swirl through a geometric landscape, morphing into a myriad of images. Finally the repeated forms focus into a centrifugal force: the single and particular figure of the model Kristen McMenamy — she of the long silver gray hair framing a strong face.
The 11-minute film that Gareth Pugh showed on Wednesday, the opening day of the Paris collections, was the fruit of much thought and two days of intense filming in London.
Ruth Hogben, trained as part of Nick Knight’s ShowStudio team and the creator of images for Lady Gaga’s world tour, was charged with capturing the essence of the Gareth Pugh aesthetic. Instead of a runway show, this presentation, projected to enormous size in the Paris Bercy stadium, is Mr. Pugh’s fashion tool.
In its bravura, its beauty and its possibility of going viral to hundreds of million of people via ShowStudio and over the Internet, this grand slam in the virtual world poses a question that is increasingly being asked by both designers and executives: Is a fashion show really necessary?
Or will the bi-annual shows in different cities ultimately be replaced by virtual fashion or some other yet-to-be-invented format?
“We just have to press a button,” said Mr. Pugh before the show, although with hindsight he admitted that it was not any easier — and certainly not any less expensive — to take the image option, even if it avoided the “uncontrollable stress” of the live format.
As a concept, he finds the idea of video sequences exhilarating, setting the mood and conveying the essence of his vision, backed up with a look book focused on the clothes.
“The perception is that people aren’t willing to accept something else,” said Mr. Pugh, 29, who has shown films previously — but more recently has given catwalk shows in Paris, where he has been supported as a protégé of the designer Rick Owens.
The process of bringing his team from London to “very foreign surroundings” and everything “relying on the single show” sparked his search for an alternative.
“With a show, a lot rides on that very small amount of time and the whole thing comes down to image,” Mr. Pugh said. “If a model trips or has a problem with shoes, that is the thing that endures. It is liberating for a designer not to have to worry about a show. You can get the models to be even more expressive and do it all in a more concise way.”
“I always think about things in movement,” said the designer, who once studied dance and made the film with a male dancer from the English National Ballet School, alongside Ms. McMenamy.
Yet the feeling persists that backing off from a runway show is a cop-out or a sign of weakness, although mini-movies are increasingly used by big brands to focus on a particular message. The series of Lady Dior films, starring the French actress Marion Cotillard, are astute marketing tools, particularly for regions like Asia — highlighted in the recent “Lady Blue Shanghai” by David Lynch. They complement the live Paris runway shows, excite and inspire an audience and set a tone and an image.
But for Ms. Hogben, in the Gareth Pugh film and in other visual work she has done for ShowStudio, the concept is not so much to grab attention as to arouse emotion.
“I spend my whole world and whole life thinking about films to make in the fashion genre,” Ms. Hogben said. “I follow my own heart and I hope that if I am successful, film can become an alternative to showing clothes.”
The filmmaker says that she is “completely led by Gareth’s designs. I try to make a representation of every piece of fabric, every shape and sculpture. I am trying to convey Gareth’s world. I play with scale, physically some parts are quite claustrophobic. There is a lot of freedom, depth and space — a vast, endless infinity of the world. This season it is very varied indeed.”
For both designer and filmmaker the optimal word is “emotion.” And that is at the heart of the issue about whether the screen can contribute to fashion, rather than just reflect it.
There is a general feeling that after a quarter of a century of catwalk shows, with zombie-faced models walking up and down, with no interaction between clothes and audience, this system is coagulating fashion blood rather than making pulses race.
While the shows from John Galliano and of the late Alexander McQueen in the 1990s were unforgettable experiences, from liaisons dangereuses of historic figures to disturbing suggestions of a lunatic asylum, those creative expressions were essentially fashion astheater.
The digital camera and the Internet changed everything because even exceptional shows could only be instantly relived as still images on Style.com or as video clips.
Now there is the possibility of made-for-cyberspace fashion shows, which can be seen in their pure and intended form forever, or manipulated as teasers on YouTube. Instead of the media editing what seem to be the crucial elements and outfits, the designer retains control and takes the images straight to the public.
“It’s like going from theater to cinema — and I absolutely believe it is going to happen for three reasons,” said Mr. Knight, the great originator and instigator of fashion live on film.
“Firstly, it is a true artistic expression that the designers can control,” he said. “Secondly they can get so many more people, from 300 to three million. And because — although it hasn’t happened yet — designers will want to sell their clothes.”
Mr. Knight believes that someone who says “I love that Gareth Pugh silver coat” will be able to place an order directly from the Internet (as Burberry is already doing), avoiding all e-commerce or brick-and-mortar stores — a daunting possibility of an earthquake in consumer shopping.
Mr. Knight also knows that ending the twice-a-year shows in major cities would meet with opposition from all vested interests. Therefore it is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
The question for people who love and enjoy fashion is whether virtual shows, or expressions of creative ideas via the camera eye, can satisfactorily replace live shows.
Adrian Joffe, the president of Comme des Garçons International and the right hand of its designer, Rei Kawakubo, used film to great effect in 2009 with “Wonderwood,” a short film by the artistic Quay brothers to express the beauty of a fragrance based on raw wood. Mr. Joffe, who banned any suggestion of a perfume bottle on the screen, called the work “an evocation of the spirit of a thing.”
Could such a concept work for Comme’s original and imaginative fashion?
“Rei is dying to find another way to show her clothes,” said Mr. Joffe, but he added that Ms. Kawakubo, who has always ruled out a static presentation, finds it hard to envisage how the texture and feel of the clothes could be expressed on film, along with the feeling.
Mr. Pugh’s decision was not to have the film showing in one area and the collection displayed in another — an idea that has been pursued by sensitive, artistic and intelligent designers like Hussein Chalayan.
Instead, the modular jackets, the rubberized neoprene, the stretch silk jersey and the high-tech effects of geometric silicone pattern and digitally printed clothes — most of that a breakthrough for the designer — can be seen by professionals in the still images. Yet the designer knows that photographs are not really a substitute for a show or for the movie.
Mr. Pugh calls the stills “a way not to scare people off,” since showing “merely” a film tends to alarm buyers and to discourage some press.
Mr. Knight believes that everything is working in favor of halting the caravansary of models, buyers and press who travel extensively each year: the cost, the pressure to reduce carbon footprints and fashion’s essential yearning for change.
He considers his ShowStudio a sound environment to show fashion, with the right values, while “the language of fashion” does not exist in the cacophony of YouTube.
“But the films have to be good,” Mr. Knight said. “What Gareth has done is created a great piece of entertainment.”