Pin It
Do you know what you're here for rave fashion film 25
Still from Do You Know What You're Here For?!Courtesy of Joseph Delaney

This new film is a dreamlike exploration of the underground rave scene

Directed by Aro Archive’s Joseph Delaney, Do You Know What You're Here For?! features vintage costumes by Prada, Yohji, Margiela, and more

Do You Know What You’re Here For?! taps into a deep part of your mind, a space only unlocked during a deep sleep or transcendental experience. In this grey area, the lines between reality and illusion are indistinguishable, leaving you in equal measures uncomfortable and captivated. As soon as Hoana answers the call from an incongruously placed landline phone, it is unclear which reality the story exists in – or if it exists at all. Directed by Joseph Delaney and shot around East London, Do You Know… tells the story of four characters as we follow them on a drug-induced journey while they search for a secret underground rave. 

The short, which Delaney describes as a coming-of-age story, explores themes of hedonism, drug use, consent, sexual assault, and the idiosyncracies of the underground club scene. Many of the locations used within the film are real interiors of shadowy clubs around London, so may be recognisable to viewers who are or have been a part of that scene. Interestingly, many of the actors and extras that start in the film were pulled directly from the subculture of which Do You Know What You’re Here For?! is based upon, adding to the authenticity of what we see on screen.

The film was commissioned by Hackney-based independent fashion company Aro Archive, for whom director Joseph Delaney is also head of special projects. The creative previously directed Yamamoto 1983-2016, which was dedicated to celebrating the work of designer Yohji Yamamoto. Speaking of Do You Know… Delaney explains “raves have always been a space for uninhibited self expression, so clothing has always been the most accessible and malleable tool to express yourself and have fun doing it.” Aro provided all the clothing for the characters in the movie from their 10-thousand strong collection of garments and accessories.

With Aro providing all costumes via its 10,000-strong back catalogue, stylist and creative director Matt King selected pieces from labels such as Prada, Stone Island, Mason Margiela, and Issey Miyake. Meanwhile, the four key characters that the story follows are almost exclusively dressed in pieces designed by Daniel Poole and Dexter Wong, two underrated labels that command cult-like reverence among many rave-goers. Delaney named the “grey Dexter Wong faux fur zip-up jacket the Ursula the lead wears in the opening scenes” as his favourite piece that was worn in the film.

With the film having it's premiere last Friday (November 25) at the Rio Cinema in East London, Delaney adds that this could be just the start of a longer project. “[I would love] to turn it into a longer narrative series – not with these characters, as I think we get enough of a glimpse into their worlds, but something similar where we can see a more developed story for each person”. 

Hey Joseph. First question: why do you believe there has always been such a strong connection between the fashion and rave scenes?

Joseph Delaney: There’s an obvious tribalism within every kind of rave culture – whether that’s in its totality, where each rave you go to exists as a kind of tribe with its own uniform, or whether that’s within little pockets within each party, which is how I’ve always experienced it. That’s clothes, though… fashion, as in the industry, has always been connected to raves because the people making the most exciting clothes were always the ones on the dancefloors, and still are.

Could you point to any other works of media that inspired you in the production of this film?

Joseph Delaney: How long do you have… The narrative was very much inspired by the clothes. The archive’s collection of Daniel Poole and Dexter Wong was the jumping off point, and then all other pieces pulled because they were either made for or inspired by raves, and so the story was built around imagining what people might have worn them and the night they might have had. Also the main character’s namesake is the company’s founder, Hoana, and so the film is dedicated to her and all the amazing stories of her raving in the 90s, which in a roundabout way has definitely informed the shape of the archive.

I asked Ariana (the company’s current owner and Hoana’s daughter) about this specifically, and she said “Hoana’s time raving and running sound systems in the 90s definitely informed how I dress, which then has an affect on how we buy for the archive and is definitely party why we specialise in sportswear, why we have more technical garments, and why we have tailoring”. The latter I found interesting as I think she means being exposed to people wearing tailoring through that lens, on the streets as a working class kid in Hackney, rather than a more formal setting you might expect.

Why do you feel it is important to preserve and showcase the clothing pieces Aro have provided?

Joseph Delaney: We say it a lot, but clothes are made to be worn. People riff on fashion as an art-form but without functionality their purpose is only half-lived, clothes need people to breathe life into them. Aro has always been a big champion of cyclical buying, and for over a decade have given the option to trade in your old clothes to get something new and that way clothes are on backs where they’re meant to be. Obviously some clothes are more beautiful or technical or iconic than others, and others get worn beyond a state that’s practical, and it’s those that Aro house behind the doors of their archive, which acts as a research resource, so it’s projects like these – films, photo series, exhibitions – that I’m tasked with dreaming up to find a way to continue to breathe life into clothes and immortalise them in ways that are fun and true to their spirit. If clothes were made to wear to a rave, like the Daniel Poole and Dexter Wong pieces that inspired this film, putting them in a cabinet at the V&A feels wrong. They should be rubbing shoulders on a dance floor, even if it’s a fictional one.

Have you had any specific experiences similar to those seen in the film that have informed the story?

Joseph Delaney: Before I went away to write the script (which was totally new for me) I actually set the team at Aro a task of picking one story to share as a way of igniting where the story would go, and though no story was specifically referenced, the film was approached to play out more like how you’d remember a night out that how it actually might pay out – bits of time go missing, others feel elongated, and you can have the most vivid memories of things that simply cannot have happened, and in a way it doesn’t matter whether they did.

Pretty much my entire life from the age of 15 to now has been spent in and out of clubs, so how long do you have! I will say some of the adult moments touch on much darker personal experiences of both me and people around me (life is stranger and much darker than fiction). This was something we were very set on including from the start – to make a film, not just a fashion film, and include all the uglier moments that make up those nights in the hopes that people would connect with them. 

Do you have any plans for a general release? 

Joseph Delaney: It will eventually go online, but for now the cinema is the focus, with an actual rave afterparty! After that we’re going to find some other IRL ways to screen the film (e.g. we might put on a little TV with headphones in the darkened back corridor of the Aro shop, maybe have playing on loop in a local club we have a relationship with, as well as other cinema screenings down the line). As above, our plans are more about how to use this as a jumping off point and expand into more narrative storytelling – so much of what I find interesting about working with Aro is the stories that come with the clothes, of who owned them and the how they end up here, and imagining the lives connected to them – so it feels like storytelling is intrinsically linked to it and pre-owned fashion in general, so it seems only natural to me that the next step is to expand an create a world and a story for the pieces to play out. Netflix come at us!

Join Dazed Club and be part of our world! You get exclusive access to events, parties, festivals and our editors, as well as a free subscription to Dazed for a year. Join for £5/month today.