Fashion Forward

A much-maligned medium or a brave new world? Here Dazed's filmmakers look to the future

Fashion Feature
Fashion Forward: REED + RADER’s green screen dreams
Vampire, a hauntingly beautiful animated gif from Reeder + Rader Reeder + Rader

Taken from the December issue of Dazed & Confused:

Marie Schuller of SHOWstudio believes that this is just the beginning. Fashion and film have always had a harmonious relationship. Photographers such as Guy Bourdin and Erwin Blumenfeld filmed their photographic scenes as early as the 1950s, setting the path for the medium that we now understand as fashion film. However, the lack of a communal platform hindered the early development of filmed fashion. All this changed with the digital revolution. For the first time a mass audience could see fashion displayed in motion, getting them closer to the intentions of the designer, who naturally doesn’t imagine their designs limited to one angle in one frame frozen within the pages of one magazine.

At the same time, fashion film is still in its infancy. It will go through the process of experimentation, development and re-invention. But the foundation has been set, and the potential is immense. In 2001, SHOWstudio’s first live broadcast streamed nine sleeping models for one night, dressed in SS02 collections. The technology at the time allowed for one pixellated still image to be broadcasted every minute. A decade later, we stream numerous live broadcasts per day, and show the making of fashion films by Nick Knight and others. This is only the beginning.

REED + RADER’s green screen dreams

“We want to do a shoot on the moon!” jokes Matthew Rader, one half of New York duo Reed + Rader. With the way fashion film is headed, he might not need a reality check. He and Pamela Reed have worked together since 2002, and the by-product is a surreal circus in which models inhabit virtual worlds. For their latest project, Brave New World, they used the Muse game engine and a green screen to birth a digital backdrop conceived down to the last blade of grass. “We’re really excited about the possibility of building 3D image,” Rader says. “The idea of the variable, virtual camera able to move around environments.” 

They take issue with the status quo. “You’ve hit a nerve,” Rader pipes up when probed about the state of fashion film. “Fashion films can be cool, but most are just a ‘behind the scenes’. It’s so easy to press a button and record an HD video. We hate that.” So what does the future look like? “3D scans of people rather than just taking a picture of them. Things moving into a weird matrix future. It sounds sci-fi but we’re just scratching the surface now.”

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF FASHION FILM?

SEAN AND SENG

“Fashion film will obviously play a larger role in the future. It’s really exciting to see how it will evolve to create a broader platform to express ideas and reach new audiences. But we don’t think it’ll replace print. They can complement each other, but they can also be miles apart.”

RUTH HOGBEN 

“The term ‘fashion film’ makes it feel small, but when I think about film as a whole the choices are endless.As a medium, it’s just such a rich, deep, strong way of communicating a woman and a designer’s thoughts. There’s so much to discover and so much to do.” 

JEFF BARK

“I would like to see directors being able to make short films that just happen to have fashion in them, so they can evolve into filmmakers with a style they can develop, like David Lynch or Wes Anderson. The smart companies will give more freedom to create stories and narrative and move beyond what is expected to sell clothes.”

PIERRE DEBUSSCHERE

“The future of fashion film is ours to make. It is still a young medium and we all have the chance to find our own personal language within it. People say nobody watches moving pieces over 1’30 but it’s not true — I have seen the complete opposite in my work. We should leave spaces open for people to decide what they want to see or not by experimenting with different formats and narrative ideas. Maybe we’ll fail at some points along the way, but ultimately it will push the medium forward.”

KATHRYN FERGUSON

“I would like to think that narrative will feature more within fashion film. Fashion traditionally can be incredibly exclusive, and while that works in editorials it doesn’t work so well when you see a living person in front of you. Fashion films that create more of an emotional response would be a good start. New technologies will naturally change how we experience fashion film — we’ve seen this already in the past few years with holographic fashion shows.”

RANKIN

“I think fashion film is developing nicely. It was a bit predictable at first. Repetitive and boring. But I really believe it has a bright future. As creatives get their head around the platforms and the gadgets the genre will go from strength to strength. Personally I can’t wait to see what happens."

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