London-based filmmaker Saam Farahmand is one of the 21st century's most creative music video directors. He's worked with The xx, Tom Vek and Alexander McQueen amongst others, and created this stunning psalm to escape and adventure with country outsider Daughn Gibson. Now Farahmand has made a video called Les Fleurs to kick off the weekly #DefineBeauty series on NOWNESS, which will see five acclaimed male and female directors taking on radical notions of beauty.
In Farahmand's case, he's chosen to take on the much-contested subject of female body hair, recasting it as a gloriously erotic aspect of womanhood – all set to the sound of Minnie Ripperton's magnificent soul song. We caught up with Farahmand to ask him a few questions about the short film.
Dazed Digital: What is the relevance of the title Les Fleurs? Is it a reference to the “flowering” of a woman, a term rooted in sexuality?
Saam Farahmand: I hear you, but it's actually more to do with how Minnie Riperton sings from the point of view of nature, not the woman, which is something I wanted the film to do.
DD: Do you think women would feel freer if there weren’t societal pressures to shave or wax?
Saam Farahmand: Not necessarily, because for many women the decision to remove hair is a matter of comfort of personal taste. There is no right or wrong and its embarrassing to watch previously "smooth" celebrities make a point of suddenly growing it out to appear heroic. Part of me is angry with myself for making Les Fleurs because it could be another example of someone trying to take ownership of the whole conversation.
DD: How long did it take you to find the right woman?
Saam Farahmand: Quite a while! Nowadays people have such an acute sense of the female form that there are a hundred categories, each with their own associations.
DD: Where did your idea come from? What were you inspired by?
Saam Farahmand: I’ve kind of been preoccupied with female body hair since i was young. Lee Friedlander’s images of Madonna from 1979, early Roy Stuart photography, people I have come across over the years... NOWNESS asked me to make a film about imperfect beauty and I decided I should make this.
DD: How long did it take? The techniques look difficult, how long did it take to turn the idea into a reality? It took quite a while, working with a very fearless team called Blind Pig who I owe my life to. When we were having developmental discussions on the intricacies of brittleness versus wispiness I felt a sense of wholeness. As if years of perversion were crystallising into something useful. It was a real coming of age moment.
The #DefineBeauty series will run for five weeks on NOWNESS. The next video will appear online 13 May.
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