Lane Crawford, Hong Kong and Beijing's premier luxury retail destination that celebrates its 160th anniversary this year, has partnered with Phillip Lim for '4x3.1', a new multimedia project in which four young and internationally renowned artists - Rain Li, Victoria Tang, Elle Muliarchyk and Yi Zhou - each explore a city through the eyes of the Phillip Lim woman.
The cities of Paris, New York, Beijing and Hong Kong can be seen in a chic and dreamlike light that produces a feeling of intrigue and, at times, danger with a stunning sense of a delicate femininity, words that perhaps also describe the multi-faceted Phillip Lim woman. Dazed caught up with Lim and Elle Muliarchyk, one of the project's filmmakers, to discuss photography, femininity and the increasing importance of fashion films…
Dazed Digital: How did the ‘4x3.1’ project come about?
Phillip Lim: We were approached by Lane Crawford to do an event with them, so we sat down and thought about what we could do. For me I really wanted to do something that was progressive and not the trunk show type event. So it seemed only natural for us to consider film as the medium.
DD: What made you feel that these four women were the right artists for this project?
Phillip Lim: They each in their very individual ways embody the 3.1 aesthetic. They are all incredibly talented, and have such a distinct and refined body of work that instantly attracted me to them. It really made me want to learn more about them and their work.
Elle Muliarchyk: I knew immediately that I wanted to touch many issues with it. I was, very generously, given carte blanche for the project and so I had many provocative and crazy ideas but then I asked the team, and myself "Who is the Phillip Lim woman?" They said, "We chose you because you are the quintessential Phillip Lim woman!" It was more interesting to work within such a framework, with a designer who has such a strong voice himself. The film had to feature a red door, as they all did. I liked that because, yes, sometimes we are afraid to open certain doors and to find out what is behind them.
DD: The idea to present four films is modern and feels right for today. What are your thoughts about fashion film becoming increasingly relevant and, it's been said, overshadowing still photography?
Phillip Lim: I don’t think so – I really think their will always be a place for still photography because people really hold a value for this in their memories. I think film is a new way of looking at this but ultimately visual imagery, whether it be still or film, needs to be stimulating and memorable. As long as it is these two things, you have achieved something.
Elle Muliarchyk: It is the same with music. You can look at it and interpret it any way you want, but with film, when you have the desire to say something, you can have a kind of control. As a filmmaker, you are taking someone on a journey, as opposed to a photograph, which takes the viewer on whatever journey that want to go explore. In a way, the viewer dictates the journey and experience. Yes, while photography will always be close in people's minds, the films feel like a carefully curated set of photographs and can, at times, offer a fuller experience.
DD: The red door represents the women finding their place in the city and a sense of time. How do you feel the clothes offer this similar feeling?
Phillip Lim: The clothes for me are really the basics of every woman’s wardrobe, a trench, some sunglasses etc they are classic items, which are such a part of femininity. There is a real mysterious aura that comes from a woman wearing a trench and I think this is a timeless element.
DD: The clothes, in the films, are feminine and light while maintaining a confident air while the women appear very powerful. Please elaborate on the dynamic between power and femininity in the films.
Phillip Lim: I think again – this goes back to the four directors; they have such individual power and the ability to effect people with their work. This is true confidence for me – the quiet kind.
DD: The energies of the four cities are quite different. How do these energies relate to the idea presented in the clothes?
Elle Muliarchyk: I was thinking about life in New York and the coexistence of the tough and hard with the delicate and beautiful aspects of it. When we meet people, we might not see what is within this person, although the clothes may give us an indication. I wanted to go further and make it intimate and describe the inner world of the Phillip Lim woman. I thought a lot of Bruce Nauman's "Performance Corridor". It consists of two walls, maybe one and a half feet apart, which you must squeeze through. It's quite a psychological test in the end. Ultimately, there are as many angles to each city as there are to the woman.
Phillip Lim: For me the clothes were the constant. I actually really wanted the directors to capture the energy of the city they were working in. I think this was achieved – It is interesting for me to see that three of the four directors chose to film at night time… and this, I guess, was their way of portraying the mystery that was already created with the trench coat. It was really enlightening for me to see the interpretation.