Diane Pernet photographed by Jean Luc Dupont.
Maiki: Hi Diane, I hope you are doing well. Last time we met we were rushing around fashion week together miced up being filmed, this interview is going to be more calm. I want to chat with you about your work which I love, especially promoting young talents through ASVOFF (A Shaded View On Fashion Film festival). Can you talk about how you created this platform and your ideas behind it?
Diane: From 2000-2005 I was making short fashion films and had a column Diane’s Diaries on a site called Disciple Films, founded by Alex Czetwertynski. Together Alex and I built the fashion part of his site and created a series of short fashion films called Fashioned Out (Links to “Fashioned Out” below).
After a few years of Fashioned Out we made a series of even shorter fashion films called Easy Pieces https://vimeo.com/103713992. On one of our Fashioned-Out projects commissioned by Galeries Lafayette, we were in Milan and met a showroom model, Anina, that was very tech oriented and as we got to know her she proposed that I try a new software called Life Blogging, think pre-twitter, pre-Instagram, etc. Remember that YouTube was founded in February 2005, the same time as my blog. Up until that point there were food, political and economic blogs but no fashion blogs. It was so new that SFR, my French carrier at that time, had no idea what to do if I had a problem so Anina would have to call Finland to speak to the tech people there at Nokia to sort out the problem. Then Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto commissioned me to make a road movie for the launch of his menswear collection in 2005 and that turned into the beginning of my first fashion film festival You Wear it Well in 2006. ASVOFF was launched in 2008.
Rossy de Palma, William Klein and Diane Pernet photographed by Alfredo Salazar.
M: A lot of people ask me what a fashion film is, and this is something you can explain much better. What is a fashion film?
D: I judge a fashion film by the same criteria I would judge any other film. A film works with a script, sound, movement, acting, art direction and with all of those elements it taps into the 5 senses. Plus, a film can go viral where as a still image is dependent on the distribution of a publication. I love story telling so narratives are of particular interest to me.
Diane Pernet, Adan, Brontis and Alejandro Jodorowsky speaking at ASVOFF in 2014. Photo by Christian Tarro Toma.
M: What are the criteria for submitting a fashion film to ASVOFF?
D: As stated above the films are judged by the same criteria of any other type of film. The idea of the festival is to present the many diverse ways that fashion can be expressed and the exchange between fashion and film. There is an open call, short films cannot be more than 10 minutes, there are however some exceptions. I believe fashion film will eventually stop becoming an ‘alternative medium’ for capturing and expressing fashion. It will be another medium on the same footing as photography. It does still need to grow but in such a short time it has already worked its way into the communication plan of every single brand. The fact that every brand – no matter how large or small – is now making fashion films is testament to the fact that fashion film has a bright future. So is the fact that fashion film festivals are popping up everywhere now.
Deadline is January 31st.
M: I think a lot of people try to create fashion films with a beautiful model and editing with mirror effects and things that just turn it into a look book. That is not to say that Ruth Hogben’s mirror effects with Gareth Pugh’s collection in 2009 were not excellent. It’s just that now, people are copying what they think will be a good fashion film. When you look at all the fashion films submitted to you, which are the ones that stand out and why?
D: I like narratives and I don’t consider a photo shoot in motion as a film. The problem there is that every photographer’s agent insists that in addition to a photo shoot that they also shoot a fashion film without the knowledge of what it takes to be a film director and there is a misconception to think that a fashion photographer can be a film director. Thing is just because there is movement that does not constitute a film.
Diane Pernet and Jean Paul Gaultier at the awards ceremony of ASVOFF in 2015. Photo by Christian Tarro Toma.
Some fashion films that I love include ASVOFF winners: Hungry for Love https://vimeo.com/144415754 Grand Prix winner ASVOFF 8, Winner of ASVOFF 8 Best Acting: Max Tortora in Non Senza di me by Brando De Sica https://vimeo.com/144238436 , Best Styling – Advanced Style Men by Lina Plioplyte https://vimeo.com/138894734, Jumper for Jonathan Saunders by Justin Anderson https://vimeo.com/107174050 it was the Grand Prix at ASVOFF 7, Holi Holy a film by Manish Arora by Bharat Sikka Best Film ASVOFF 6 https://vimeo.com/74617484. Best Acting ASVOFF 6 She Said, She Said by Stuart Blumberg with Marisa Tomei and Elodie Bouchez https://vimeo.com/76883601. I could go on and on but those are a few of my favourite films and recently I enjoyed Wes Anderson’s film for H & M, Come Together starring Adrien Brody, it was an ad but constructed like a short film.
M: Comedy is always a good factor in fashion films as it’s such a contrast to what people expect from fashion which is often associated with superficiality. Would a fashion film comedy stand strong in ASVOFF?
D: Definitely, I love a great comedy and think that is what is missing in fashion films.
M: I love chatting with you as you’ve spent 26 years in the industry and what happens these days when you sit at a fashion show is that there is a sort of cell phone wave going on. The model comes out and everyone’s phone is following her to the end of the catwalk and back filming and photographing. What was it like when people didn’t have smart phones and actually clapped through the whole finale of a show?
D: True, people actually watched what was going on in front of them for real and not through their mobile phones. Then again it is like that at openings and exhibitions, isn’t it?
Diane Pernet and Marco de Rivera photographed by David Gil.
M: Do you think fashion shows will be extinct soon now that there are many cheaper and very effective ways of showing a collection like fashion films or showing the collections online?
D: Ever since I saw Tokyo Girls about ten years ago in Japan where clients and fans ordered the clothes as they walked down the catwalk from their mobile phones that that was where fashion shows were headed. A decade ago in Tokyo it was see now buy now. My thoughts then and my thoughts now is that fashion shows should be a form of entertainment for the public, they could pay admission and the shows would take place at the same time as the clothes were in the shops.
Diane Pernet photographed by Jean Luc Dupont.
M: You are a fashion icon, and you told me colors distracted you from what you were creating so you started wearing black. How so?
D: It was pretty much that, I found wearing prints and colors distracting when I was a designer so I started wearing the color black. Black suits me, I think it is a color that is discreet and powerful at the same time. I do have a leopard coat with a green collar from Dries Van Noten that I am enjoying wearing and a deep burgundy velvet bathrobe for outerwear that I’ve been enjoying lately so who knows…a little color is entering into my wardrobe lately.
M: Can you speak a bit about your career, why you were drawn to fashion, becoming a designer, magazine editor and what led you to blog and start ASVOFF?
D: I got a degree in documentary filmmaking, did that for a short while, then was a reportage photographer and then became a fashion designer for my own brand in New York for 13 years. I did that until I moved to Paris in the end of 1990. My first job in Paris was a costume designer, and became a fashion journalist a bit by accident. I worked for Elle.com, had a style column called Dr. Diane then my editor, Tina Isaac set up the website for Vogue.fr and I moved there with her then in 2005 I launched my blog and then in 2006 my first fashion film festival, as I mentioned above You Wear it Well and in 2008 ASVOFF. ASVOFF puts everything I love together – fashion and film, it is completing a circle. In 2015 I launched my first line of perfumes Diane Pernet Paris. There are five perfumes now: To Be Honest, Wanted, In Pursuit of Magic, Shaded and most recently Love Affair.
Jerry Schatzberg and Diane Pernet photographed by Miguel Villalobos.
M: What do you think needs to happen in the fashion industry now to make it more sustainable?
D: Companies need to be more responsible and transparent about how garments are produced and how their production pollutes the environment. If a garment costs the price of a sandwich one has to wonder what the workers that produce those garments are paid. The consumer needs to be educated and the factories and textile producers have to consider people and the planet.
M: For final questions, can you tell us your unforgettable moments in fashion;
The jaw dropping one: Rick Owens Spring 2014 step dancers that was the most amazing energy that was powerful, strong and irresistible.
The funniest one: The last Paris fashion show of Jeremy Scott, must have been in early or mid-nineties with a revolving stage and a spoof on an American game show where girls dressed in Jeremy Scott were giving away prizes like washing machines and the like and in the end Jeremy appeared coming out of a huge cake throwing fake money at everyone.
The craziest one: Walter Van Beirendonck Wild and Lethal Trash show when models all were in masks and were falling off the stage and the audience was screaming telling them to stop walking before they went too far.
M: Thank you for your time Diane and can’t wait to see what you will create in 2017.
Fashioned Out series by Diane Pernet and Alex Czetwertynski:
Full Episodes from Paris, New York, Milan and London
An example of an outstanding fashion film is also “Who Are You, Polly Maggoo”