Fashion Film: Interview with Diane Pernet


With a uniform as iconic as Karl Lagerfeld’s, Diane Pernet is the leading woman in Fashion Film. With many talents spreading across a range of the fashion & media industry Diane has gone from designer, to blogger, to filmmaker and probably back again. She is now the founder of A Shaded View on Fashion Film Festival (ASVOFF) – the foremost Fashion Film event which travels the world and let’s new talents to showcase their fashion design and/or filmmaking skills.

In this interview we have a chat with Diane about Fashion film, and from an expert point of view she gives some tips about the equipment to use and aspects to focus on!

Explain to us the difference between a ‘fashion film’ and a ‘fashionable film’.

A fashion film is like any other film with the exception that the ‘fashion’ is the protagonist of the actual film. To say what is the difference between ‘fashion film’ and a ‘fashionable film’ , sometimes there is no difference, for instance September Issue, Unzipped, Zoolander, Devil Wears Prada, Who Are You Polly Magoo….were all fashionable films as well as being ‘fashion films’.

As for what one offers that the other doesn’t, a script, sound, movement…a film as opposed to a frozen image.

What was your motivation & inspiration behind mending the ‘creative gap’ between fashion and film?

I think the ‘fashion film’ was born out of a real need to breathe life into the old static medium and set fashion in motion through the magic of cinema. Thanks to the incredible impact of the digital revolution, new commercial realities and a mutual fascination between fashion and film industry leaders.  But it’s not only that.  As online, tablet and smartphone media channels grow ever more important, ‘fashion film’ is also filling important business niches and offering artistic solutions to challenges we could never have imagined even a few years ago.  It’s also creating totally new, sometimes unexpected opportunities as it goes along.  ‘Fashion film’ makes perfect sense in today’s world where we have the live streaming of catwalk shows, click-to-buy video e-commerce functionality, behind-the-scenes and fly-on-the-wall fashion brand documentaries – not to mention video ads spreading virally like wild fire through social media networks.  There’s something in the bigger picture too, you know.  Fashion is still a hot topic for reality TV shows; there are biopics of fashion designers coming out left, right and centre; designers are moonlighting as Hollywood film directors – and actresses as designers.

In a short period of time, film and fashion have homogenised with some beautiful & very innovative outcomes but is there anything in particular you would like to see advance from here on?

It’s still in the beginning stages, what I appreciate the most is the point of view from real directors and not just fashion photographers proposing moving fashion shoots.
Some photographers naturally make the transition like William Klein, Guy Bourdin, Bruce Weber, Ellen Von Unwerth , Alex Prager, Erwin Olaf … early fashion film pioneers, but for the most part a lot of fashion photographers are just making moving photo shoots without constructing and directing an actual film.

Do you think that one day, ‘fashion film’ will replace catwalks & magazines? After all, the internet answers a lot for both music and newspapers nowadays.

I would dream for that to happen but do not expect it any time soon. For now there are a few designers that just show their films, Gareth Pugh has done that very effectively for seasons. Most, however do both a catwalk and a fashion film because they worry that if they don’t do a show they will not get sufficient attention in the press.
Fashion is about creating dreams, it is all the world of illusion be it on a printed page or in a film. – Gareth Pugh, 2011 directed by Ruth Hogben.

What do you feel ‘fashion film’ offers both designers and filmmakers as a new creative platform?

We’ve got cinematography capturing everything from uplifting theatrics and cheeky satire to confrontational characters and scenes that are saturated with decadence and luxurious wardrobes – while others have been choreographed by a very austere hand. The fashion films take the viewer on a ride that runs the gamut of emotions.  Imagine the contrast between sublime innocence and a primal sense of arousal; or images of pure bliss and eye-candy rounding off the edgier side of life like eerie moods, avant-garde clothes and controversial narratives.  All this, through the lens of fashion, style and beauty.

You made some suggestions about films we could include in our Spotlight magazine, including Lucrecia Martel for Miu Miu and Mike Figgis for Agent Provocateur amongst many others. What makes a good ‘fashion film’ in your eyes?

The same elements that make a good film with the exception that in order for it to be considered a fashion film it needs to have interesting fashion. Aside from that one should judge a fashion film with the same criteria that one judges any other film.

As a former filmmaker, what was your preferred equipment and digital format to shoot on?

I learned on a 16 mm Bolex , editing was analogue on a Steenbeck. Digital or non-linear editing is much easier to work with. The editing software that I use and my editors use is final cut pro. I used to use a Panasonic 3 CCD, now I am even more low-fi with a FLIP. It is the size of a mobile phone and is HD quality, Of course you will never achieve the quality of a Red or Scarlet with a FLIP but for my purposes it works out just fine. My little films are more about the content and intimacy with the subject and are documentary style as opposed to  a fiction film.

What would be your advice and recommendations to filmmakers interested in fashion film?

Go out and experiment. Diversity is what is interesting to me, choose an angle and construct your idea. Some films are purely visual but I honestly believe anything more than 3 minutes needs a scenario to hold ones interest. Of course there are exceptions and everyone does not agree with me on that philosophy.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this great interview.

    I agree about the distinction between Fashion Films and Fashionable Films. In my opinion I think we will see a convergence between the two.

    Interestingly, there has been an article in Financial Times stating that Fashion Films are flopping big time because clothes shouldn’t be the focus of the film. I don’t agree. But here is a link to the article:


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