Both film making and fashion design are collective endeavors with hundreds of people involved in the process of making a major film or collection yet the idea of the auteur, in which one person is wholly responsible for the artistic vision, is still well and truly alive. In the world of film, this person is the director. And for fashion, it is the designer. Despite the parallels between film and fashion, the latter has usually played second fiddle when the two worlds come together. With the rise of the ‘fashion film’ since 2009, we think that it is time to re-examine this relationship as public opinion has become divided between those who think fashion films is a form of expression in which fashion houses get to play auteur and those who think they are nothing more than pretentious product placement disguised as ‘art’.
We argue that fashion films are not necessarily new and should not be taken as just a passing phase. The earliest films were silent films with a live music soundtrack and the technology lent itself to dance, costume and special effects. If you compare early films like Danse du Papillon (1900) and Danse Serpentine (1896) with Ruth Hogben’s fashion films for Gareth Pugh [including Pitti Immagine #79 (2011) and A/W 2009 (2009)] you can see how fashion and costume has been used, then as now, to show aesthetic considerations over narrative.