As a teenager growing up in Italy, Giada Colagrande saw the work of Bill Viola and thought she would like to make video art. Colagrande started experimenting and collaborating when she moved to Rome for university, before realising the thing she enjoyed most about creating images was going back to dreams and exploring the imperfect narrative of a hazy dimension.
Gradually evolving to more traditional storytelling, her debut feature film 'Aprimi il Cuore (Open My Heart)' premiered in 2002, followed by 'Before it Had a Name' in 2005. Colagrande now follows Zoe Cassavetes and Lucrecia Martel as part of Miu Miu's The Women's Tales series, as the label invites female directors to imagine short cinema. Dazed Digital spoke to the Colagrande to find out the inspiration behind her contribution, The Woman Dress.
Dazed Digital: How did you get involved with Miu Miu?
Giada Colagrande: They called me and told me about The Women's Tales project. There would be four women cinema directors and we'd be free to invent whatever story we wanted – the only conditions being we had to use the dresses from the latest collection somehow and that any collaborators we chose would have to be women too. So obviously I got excited! And I called Au Revoir Simone who did the music.
DD: How does 'The Woman Dress' relate to your other films?
Giada Colagrande: I knew I wanted to work with the issues I always explore in my work, female duality or mystery. If you look at my previous work I pretty much always make the same kind of movie! But it's been years since I made my last short. To be honest when I made my first feature film, I felt so relieved, it was much more my narrative dimension to have 90 minutes to tell a story, rather than ten. With 'The Woman Dress', I was worried I wouldn't know how to make a short movie anymore! Surprisingly I found it very stimulating to start from conditions someone else gave me – thinking about the dresses before the characters. The opposite of what I'd normally do.
DD: What did the dresses evoke for you?
Giada Colagrande: I had this idea of an esoteric ceremony with witches working but the viewer not knowing what they were making. Then we'd realise it's dresses, transforming women into dresses. I always loved horror movies and mysteries and I went back to my memories too: I grew up a feminist and when my mother would meet with her feminist friends, we, the daughters, would play witches. The ultimate feminine gesture is wearing a dress, it is very iconic. I fell in love with the blood-red dress from the collection and imagined Maya Sansa getting into the tub to become it, pricking her finger to create the colour.
DD: The aesthetic is beautiful, like very classical painting. Is that something you were striving for?
Giada Colagrande: Painting is always a source of inspiration, as much as cinema – if not more in some cases. Francis Bacon, Velásquez, Piero della Francesca... there's a thread of how my favourite painters would express unease or foreboding. These painters have always influenced me a lot.