Ever had the desire to go to a Fashion Film Festival? Not quite sure what to expect? Well I had the absolute pleasure and honor of attending the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival hosted at the cities Museum Of Contemporary Art. Prestigiously identified by elite members of the fashion world “The ‘Cannes’ of the fashion world, the festival proved to be an educational, inspiring and imaginative adventure that is truly one of those things you leave thinking to yourself “I’m so glad I did that.”
Attending the “world’s largest gathering of fashion film professionals” I had the luxury of rubbing elbows with professionals who have worked on campaigns for legendary fashion houses such as Dolce and Gabana and Proenza Schouler, to name a few. Oh ya, and there were journalists on hand who have contributed to little editorials such as Vogue. No biggie, right? Talk about a fish out of water experience!
I pride myself on knowing my labels and somewhat a history of fashion (I have countless Coco Chanel biographies, and other fashion books that are not only great coffee table decorations but interesting reads as well. That makes me kind of an expert right?) The history of film though, I’ve never bothered to fathom or even consider and after attending this festival I realize is one of the biggest mistakes a professional of the fashion world could make. Fortunately for me, there was a seminar prior to the screenings and red carpet events. Kimberly Truhler, graciously educated us members of the press on how the history of fashion in film is synonymous with some of the most legendary fashion trends that still exist in today’s fashion. Fashion Film history 101 we were taught though is not to get it confused with costume design. As she explained, and somewhat defended, “costume design is entirely focused on film. It’s story based. There is no consequence or relation to fashion.” The gist of which was make sure you get this right so as not to offend someone who works in costume design or fashion. Some of the most legendary costumes in film can still be found in today’s biggest fashion trends. Think about it. Before Chanel invented the “Ford Dress” and consequently the LBD, black was thought to only be a color to wear to funerals. High slits most recently made iconic by Angelina Jolie and her Oscar dress actually dates back to the 1920s. Even film politics and the Hays Code, an old regulation system that worked similar to the ratings system but on a much stricter enforcement of “moral codes” brought out the creative side of costume makers, some of whose creations have inspired today’s fashion icons. Take for example that famous scene of Marilyn Monroe from “Gentleman Prefer Blondes.” Did you know that the original costume from this scene was nude material with only crystals covering Marilyn’s ahem, jewels? Obviously, the people from the Hays code would have had a heart attack over this, which is why the end result was this stunning number.
I could go on an on about how costume designs from decades ago still influence todays fashionistas (seriously how many times do people have to say they are inspired by fashionistas past. I mean hello, even Nicole Richie named her daughter after Gene Harlow!”) Nonetheless it’s still fun to take a trip down fashions yellow brick road to see where some of my favorite styles were born.
After the seminar we were invited to watch 11 short films. And by short I mean think of advertising campaigns for some of your favorite labels. In essence, that’s what many of these were. I was speaking with a fellow patron who said she enjoyed watching the films just as much as I did. When I described watching some of them like watching a Lady Gaga music video she agreed stating “yes! Exactly! Whenever I try to explain some of these films I explain it just as that. It’s like going to a festival where Lady Gaga is creating films while simultaneously attending the event as well.” After the first set of screenings, there was a brief intermission while the directors, actors, models, makeup people and basically anyone who contributed to one of these films graced the red carpet. The fashion did not disappoint. From mile long trains to glamorous draping, my jaw dropped countless times in aw of what people are capable of imagining. I was even called out by a fellow reporter for having a dress that was from an All Saints collection several seasons ago. My response is, who cares, its timeless. And after all didn’t we just get educated on how timeless some silhouettes are?! I could have told her I got a bargain on the dress. Instead of spending about $500 on a beaded All Saints creation I got it at an outlet for $75. A timeless bargain is never a regrettable decision. Rather than educating her on these facts I just smiled and told her I loved her plain black dress. Ok, I omitted the plain. But really, it was. She spiced it up though with her cool European accent.
Alas, because red carpet events can sometimes be drawn out, I decided to take an impromptu photo shoot on the La Jolla shores before the second round of films started. For the record, La Jolla has some of the most breath taking sunsets I have ever seen. As a native of Southern California, I have seen hundreds of sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, but none quite as magical as what I saw yesterday. After the sun set and I was thoroughly content with how the photos came out I returned to the venue for the final round of films.
They saved the best for last for sure! Like I described earlier, these films are very similar to watching a commercial for a fashion campaign. In fact I believe some of them even were. My favorite by far was titled “Crystals and The Postman” by Ellen Von Unwerth. It was fun and sparkly (sponsored by Swarovski) and it reminded me of Barbie. In other words, it had my name written all over it. By the end, I had a new renowned appreciation for the contributions film makes to the fashion world. And politics and language barriers aside, no matter where you are from fashionistas know one word when it comes to fashion and that is love. Love for the artistic side, love for the hard work that goes into creating something and love for the final result that audiences can appreciate from around the globe.