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Photo by Miguel Villalobos

Diane Pernet's ASVOFF

Legendary fashion blogger collaborates with Vogue Italia on her Shaded View On Fashion Film festival

Clad in her trademark pompadour secured by a black mantilla, ever-present dark shades and Gothic attire; Diane Pernet strikes a silhouette as instantly recognisable as that of Karl Lagerfeld’s. Her legacy to fashion may also be nearly as significant, if less well-known. In her capacity as journalist, editor, blogger and now curator of her own fashion film festival; she tirelessly supports the young, independent forward-looking designers and thinkers in fashion. Her cult blog, 'A Shaded View On Fashion' spawned the travelling fashion film festival, 'A Shaded View On Fashion Film' which since its inception in 2008, has shown films by the likes of Steven Klein, Nick Knight, Chris Cunningham, and 2009 ASVOFF winner, Ruth Hogben. After a successful season last year which was premiered at Passage du Dessir in Paris with a jury panel consisting of Nan Goldin and Rick Owens; ASVOFF returns in 2010, kicking off its Milano edition with a collaboration with Vogue Italia and a specially commissioned new project – ‘1 Minute Light’ that was won by Miho Kinamura and Zaiba Jabbar. Dazed emailed with the veiled one to talk her collaboration with Vogue Italia and the future of film in fashion.

Dazed Digital: You used to be a filmmaker before you became a designer and in a way you’ve come full circle with ASVOFF. In regards to films, which films have been the most influential to you?
Diane Pernet: Of course as a child it was my first Disney film at the drive in but more seriously the films that have had the biggest influence in my life it would have to be the volume of work by John Cassevettes, Rainer Fassbinder and Werner Herzog. Much later Mike Figgis and Timecode and more recently Gasper Noe Enter the Void. But there are so many directors from Hitchcock, Fellini, Visconti, Kubrich to Pasolini that have impacted my life and the way that I see films.

DD: What was the original motivation behind ASVOFF?
Diane Pernet: The original motivation for making a fashion film festival came more than ten years ago but it was too early and there was not enough material out there at that time to make a fashion film festival. In 2006 I co-curated a fashion film festival called You Wear it Well with my La Contributor to my blog. It was a bit crazy because we started in May and in August it was screened at Cinespace on Hollywood Blvd and then it traveled for the rest of the year. In 2008 I decided to go solo and launched ASVOFF as an extension of my blog at the Jeu de Paume in Paris.

DD: How did the collaboration with Vogue Italia come about for ASVOFF?
Diane Pernet: I was in Rome with ASVOFF last year and spoke with Federico Poletti, Communications Consultant who I had worked with before and we talked about a screening in Milan. Last season he proposed the idea to Franca Sozzani who thought it was a good project. It was interesting to make a complementary online event with the launch of
I wanted to make something special for Italian Vogue and their new website and so I commissioned directors to make a one minute film with the brief LIGHT. It's a bit abstract and I wanted to see where they would take it. In addition to my commissioning directors ran an open call on their site. We chose the two that we felt were the strongest.

DD: What kind of resistance and problems did you come up against when you first decided to start a travelling juried fashion film festival? When was the moment when you realized the struggle was worth it?
Diane Pernet: Like in the court of Versailles no one wanted to look beyond their fans to see that there was something else they could be doing with fashion other than fashion photography. When I got an invitation to screen at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, when I launched ASVOFF at the Jeu de Paume and the day before the meeting there was a full page in IHT about fashion films with all the images coming from my festival and the article discussing the importance of fashion films. Finally a proper institution in the heart of Paris and the press in IHT it showed that two years of my traveling festival had finally borne fruits.

DD: Fashion film has existed since William Klein and Guy Bourdin but there seems to have been an explosion recently. What do you see as the allure of fashion film compared to still photography? What role can a fashion film play in delivering a message for the season?
Diane Pernet: Before the internet photography was the best way of communicating because you could spread photography through magazines and TV was not that interested in fashion. Now, of course we have the internet allowing us to bring video to many more people. Because of movement and sound gives video another mood and allows you to create the universe of the brand. It has the potential for a richer, deeper experience.

DD: With the ever-increasing sophistication of fashion film and live-streaming, is the live experience of fashion shows still important?
Diane Pernet: Think of a music concert, it gives off great energy but on an everyday level  you can’t only enjoy music through a concert. There are also music videos , tv feed, podcasts, same with fashion. A fashion show is great but financially a killer and energy consuming so why should you restrict yourself to only one option to express your brand? On the other hand, at fashion shows you are in one place looking at one thing and you are sure you have people’s attention, once you are not live you no longer have that control.

DD: Young designers like Gareth Pugh embrace fashion film but the big luxury companies have been slow on the uptake till very recently. What have big fashion companies learnt from the success of ASVOFF, Showstudio and fashion film?
Diane Pernet: As long as their old model was working they were not going to change it. With the financial crisis they have started to think outside of the box. They’ve learned that they can reach more people and rather than make a super fantastic fashion show that is disconnected to what is actually sold in the showroom they can make a super fantastic film featuring the real clothes and people will see in private presentations, installations, brands can show in their stores and potential customers can enjoy at their leisure on the internet.

DD: What we are seeing with blogging, tweeting and digital media is the breaking down of boundaries between designers and consumers. Is there too much information? Are we losing some of the romance?
Diane Pernet: I don’t think so, we are just bringing the consumer closer to the fashion. Dolce & Gabbana were the first to understand the impact of bloggers on consumer behaviour.  Everyone else now is just playing catch up.

DD: You mentioned David Lynch would be your dream jury member for the festival. How else would you like to take ASVOFF further?
Diane Pernet: By creating more links with directors, to bring them together with production companies. To organize professional seminars, to promote talent and to give them professional opportunities which allow fashion film to become an industry.

DD: What can we look forward to from the 3rd edition of ASVOFF?
Diane Pernet: We will launch ASVOFF 3 at Centre Pompidou Sept 24, 25 & 26th with the deadline for submissions June 30th. We are also considering some exciting options outside the screening room. Stay tuned…

DD: What excites you about the future of fashion film?
Diane Pernet: That the most exciting collaborations are yet to come.