There is no better way to view clothing than “to watch it in motion, the way it was designed to be seen”, as stated by the (unofficial) Father of Fashion Film, Nick Knight. The downside is that, unlike long-lasting print, fashion films have the unprecedented pressure to captivate an audience within five minutes max. As such, they are brimming with an array of creative techniques designed to not just capture the clothes, but the hearts of viewers, too. They are not “ads”, more full-length feature films, surreal explorations and documentary missions, crammed into mere minutes. They have to be atmospheric story-tellers and ooze the essence of a brand while presenting the clothes perfectly, no less. It’s no easy feat but when done well, fashion films are ingenious. Here is a small selection of some of the best.
Sandra Winther, Nowness
Part of the 2019 #SurvivalSeason, this film celebrates the wilful spirit of Puerto Rico’s islanders “standing on the frontline of climate change” in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, 2017. Inspiring, educational and heart-breaking, the short shines a light on those directly facing the impacts of climate change as we speak. Not a fashion film per say, but one we can use to aid our knowledge of fast fashion’s effect on the climate crisis.
John Cameron Mitchell, Dior
Marion Cotillard embodies the role of ‘frustrated icon’ fiercely in this Dior short film. 70s Femme Fatale meets French New Wave, L.A.dy Dior is definitely not lacking in entertainment.
Raquel Couceiro and Myles Henrik Hall, SHOWstudio
The latest film project of SHOWstudio, this fashion film depicts nine different heroines and anti-heroines of the cosplay world. Beautifully shot against a simple studio backdrop to extenuate the variety of detailed outfits, this is a film for fashion and game enthusiasts alike. If you aren’t already aware of SHOWstudio then have a peruse through their work during this idle time. Founded by the legendary Nick Knight in 2000, the innovative site showcases the very best of experimental fashion film.
Rei Nadal, Nowness
Here we see athlete Dina Asher-Smith describe her love of expression, through both the running track and glittery eyeshadow. In this strikingly honest campaign, in partnership with Nike, Asher-Smith stresses the importance of sport for body positivity amongst young women. An empowering watch for any viewer.
Wes Anderson, H&M
There is often an overlap of directors when it comes to film and that of fashion film. Wes Anderson is another famous name braving the fashion world. His trademark styles—symmetry, dysfunctionality, vintage colours, tracking shots - are clearly visualised in this narrative about a Christmas-gone-wrong. You won’t be disappointed. For more of Wes Anderson’s fashion films see: ‘Castello Cavalcanti’ or ‘Prada Candy L’eau’, both of which are equally idiosyncratic.
Jeroen Dankers, Nowness
Fashion photographer Viviane Sassen describes the origins of her work and influence of rural Kenya in this documentary short for the film platform Nowness—another great site to while away the hours on. Whether you are familiar with her work or not, this film offers a great insight into the minds of creatives and how strong an impact our childhood surroundings can have on the work we create.
Jonas Åkerlund, Dior
Dior’s films are brimming with sass and comedic value, and this Dior Addict campaign is no exception. Daphne Groeneveld stars as a modern Brigitte Bardot in a spoof of Roger Vadim’s 1956 ‘And God Created Woman’, batting her eyelashes at drooling men and twirling her way through Saint-Tropez. Watch for a laugh (and hair envy).
Seb Edwards, Lacoste
A campaign celebrating 80 years of the renowned brand, this is more a Hollywood romance than fashion film. It depicts a lovers’ chase on a train soaring through the decades, showing the evolution of fashion. You will be on the edge of your seat—while acknowledging the endurance of the brand’s signature polo.
Sam Mendes, Louis Vuitton
It is hard not to feel wistful in this idyllic fashion film directed by the great Sam Mendes (who’s work includes the recent ‘1917’). Emma Stone is depicted as an avid dreamer seeking beautiful locations. We follow her through these dreamscapes, sound tracked by Beyoncé’s XO. If you want to continue the journey, watch their 2019 follow-up.