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The Art of the Advertising Fashion Film

Mable Yiu

The fashion industry does not live in isolation. In fact, every trend and individual garment ever produced is influenced in some way by outside sources- be they social, cultural, historic, or artistic. Currently the top fashion houses of the world have been using these sources and advertising in a truly unique way: the fashion film. Encompassing so many art forms, these ads are truly mesmerizing in both their visual aesthetics as well as their influence on viewers. By targeting the internet audience - where these films are primarily published- fashion brands quickly cultivate a younger demographic. As fashion tries to stay relevant and fresh, these films prove to be vital for success.

In 2008, several short films began to circulate on the internet and since then, the major houses of haute couture are producing these films as frequently as though they were collections themselves. The films have been as short as a couple minutes and as long as half an hour. Brands such as Christian Dior and Prada have used famous directors while others, most notably Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, have chosen to write and direct themselves. These films are numerous as they are varied, with each house producing truly unique visual representations of themselves.

 Last year, an outstanding group of “shorts” were produced by Prada in order to promote their Galleria bag. Called “Postman Dreams”, these films were a composition of both cinematic and fashionable flair. Directed by Autumne de Wilde, these three short films are meant to evoke dream-like states and whimsy as they follow the bag in various “wacky” situations. While this particular series lacks major star power (besides the Galleria bag, of course), other designers have chosen to work with big-name actors such as Anna Kendrick, Marion Cotillard, Kristen Stewart, and Keira Knightley. These films are so artfully done that the viewers don’t even notice that they are being sold a product, but rather watching an exciting story unfold.

Recently, these short films have begun to move into the realm of a purer cinematic experience that are merely punctuated by fashion. In the case of Lagerfeld and Chanel, the films are shot in such a way that one would expect to see them shown at the Sundance or Cannes festivals. One of his latest films features Kristen Stewart and Geraldine Chaplin playing the young and old Coco Chanel in a “film within a film”. Lagerfeld has said time and again that he wishes people to know Coco Chanel as more than just the old woman with pearls. He wants to present to the world a fresh image of the founder, ultimately projecting a fresh image of the brand, thus drawing in new customers. 

The tactics used by these brands are first and foremost to generate revenue, but the films that these strategies produce are certainly stand-alone art. The accessibility of the internet fashion film, in particular, allows any person to become a member in the ever-exclusive world of art, and in becoming more tangible to an everyday audience, these films have helped to keep many of these houses relevant and exciting. 

By Kat Jones