There are three main categories which fashion films go under and here I have explained what each of them are and given examples.
Conventional Narrative Fashion Film
Conventional narrative fashion films are films with an obvious story line, where the garments and styling support the characters and narrative. This style of fashion film with always have a beginning, middle and end. These fashion films usually have speech and are very similar to films you would see in the cinema, but they are just shorter. This style of fashion film aims to get the viewer to aspire to be the character in the film and to therefore want what she is wearing. Famous people are often used in these fashion films as the viewer would think that if the clothing is good enough for their favourite celebrity, then it is definitely good enough for them .
“A Therapy”, by Roma Polanski for Prada
PRADA, 2012. Prada presents “A Therapy” By Roman Polanski With Ben Kingsley & Helena Bonham Carter [2 November 2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-pF8rKZ37c
This is an example of a fashion film using conventional narrative. There is a clear storyline of a woman entering a therapy session, by them her therapist being more interested in her beautiful Prada coat than listening to her stories. I like that the storyline is very simple, because it is easy to follow and therefore doesn’t distract from the fashion side of it. I also like that there is a comical feel to the film because it makes it more fun and interesting to watch. It is clear what brand is being advertised because there are shots of the brand name Prada incorporated into some shots. The slogan ‘Prada suits everyone’ also makes the brand name clear and adds a comical side to the film. Prada is a very expensive brand and I think that is why very upper class characters with glamorous sales were used so that the possible buys are more inclined to want to incorporate the garments into their own wardrobes. Helena Bonham Carter was used in this film who is a very popular actress which would have drawn more attention and interest to the short film.
The shots are long and the overall pace is quite slow, possibly to give a more dream-like feel as the therapist dreams about wearing her coat; this also makes it seem more relaxed and calming. Once the patient starts describing her dream to the therapist, he starts to listen but gets distracted by her elegant fur coat. The camera shows this as he looking intriguingly at something in the distance and then there is a shot of the coat, making it clear what he is looking at. As he slowly and quieting starts making his way to the coat, a calming and slow music starts, which drowns out the patient’s voice, showing that he is no longer listening to her. It is comical as you can still hear her going on about her dream, thinking that he is listening and understanding, when actually he is posing in the mirror with her coat. It is also comical as you would not expect a man like him to want to wear a coat so feminine and glamorous as that. I think this storyline is very effective as it makes the viewers think that they would suit it as well as the slogan appears ‘Prada suits everyone’.
Organic Narrative Fashion Film
An organic narrative fashion film is where the storyline is based on the fashion, so the fashion is the dominant feature. This means that the actors and actresses let the garments and styling tell the story. The style of narrative uses most of the aspects of a normal film, e.g. characterisation and sound effects etc. but it doesn’t necessarily have speech or a clear storyline.
“Muta” by Lucretia Martel
MUIMUI, 2011. Muta By Lucrecia Martel – Mui Mui Women’s Tales #2 [2 November 2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALPGLecuorc
This is an example of a fashion film with an organic narrative. The film shows faceless models walking round a bit creepy boat in, what looks like, the middle of the sea. The storyline is not made clear and even by the end of the film I was confused by what had been happening. You don’t see the model’s faces throughout, you can only see a side view of the models’ eyelashes and glasses, which means that their character’s have to be made up around what they are wearing. However their isn’t much characterisation in this film as all the model’s seem to act very similar and their isn’t much individuality. The insect sound effects and the way the models’ movements are sometimes sped up, gives the impression they are like insects or bugs of some kind. There is no dialog in this film, adding to the ambiguity of the film. I really like the editing of the girls, with all the different speeds because it makes them look less human and more animalistic; however I think it is slightly too long because I started to switch off slightly towards the end. In a way I like that the storyline is so ambiguous because the audience can interpret it how they want it and will think more about it; however I think at the end there should have been more of a clue as to what was going on.
Non-Narrative Fashion Film
A non-narrative fashion film is when their is no storyline and the whole fashion film is focused on showing off the garments. These fashion films pull inspiration from avant-garde and more experimental film structures. The first fashion film to replace a catwalk show was in 1989 and they have become more and more popular. They are a cost effective way to showcase clothing and the designer has more control over the content and it is guaranteed to go correctly every time, unlike live catwalk shows. Abstraction is commonly used in this narrative, meaning that the viewer focuses on the ideas instead of the actual events.
“Immagine#79” by Ruth Hogben and Gareth Pugh
HOGBEN, R.; PUGH, G., 2011. Gareth Pugh Pitti 2011 – Film by Ruth Hogben [2 November 2015]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qo5wdMiXHQ4
I wasn’t a massive fan of this non-narrative fashion film because I found it too long and I found it lost interest quite quickly because there was no storyline or conflict; instead it was just different abstract shots of the models and clothing, which after a while does get slightly tedious. Even though I did think this film would have been more interesting if there was a storyline or a message, I did think the editing was great. I liked how some parts were sped up and slowed down, some were repeated and how the light flashed in and out. There were many more interesting and fun effects in this film to give it more interest and variety in the shots. Even though I really like some of the editing techniques, I think this was my least favourite fashion film to watch out of these narratives because I didn’t find it very interesting or gripping. I will therefore make sure that my fashion film has a storyline to follow, even if it is ambiguous to keep the viewers’ attention.