There is an interesting quote from film philosopher and cultural critic ‘maven’ Slajov Zizek that says:
“Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn’t give you what you desire – it tells you how to desire.”
In a sense, that’s also true for fashion film: we don’t actually get to have all those nice clothes, accessories, that beautiful face, a nice apartment or anything that we see on screen. We’re just there to look at them. Seeing those images, it tells us what we should want from life. It shows us why we should aspire to certain things, not only materials (such as clothing), but also larger idyllic ways of seeing the world around us. But fashion film also complicates this statement…
In a way, fashion film is more about telling you what to desire rather than how. Take this example for the French magazine Jalouse, directed by Matthew Frost. The greatest thing about this film is obviously its style: overly cynical with a tongue-in-cheek attitude, acknowledging the savvy-viewer’s knowledge about the production mechanisms behind “viral videos” intended to promote sales. In a humorist way, Frost’s voice-over explicitly names all these things like the semi-meaningless title (“A girl like any other”), her “intelligent” visit to the bookstore, the ridiculous several changes of clothes during the day etc. and with this explicitly lays bare the overly “constructedness” of what seems to be an effortless little video, or an effortless lifestyle, that you could easily obtain if you would just buy Jalouse magazine.
Since we were already aware of that, as it’s the aim of every promotional video to let us fall for their vision (and products), the fact that Jalouse is mocking this makes it attractive. The film addresses us as intelligent spectators who can see past these sales pitches and don’t just buy into anything – that is, of course hoping that we will actually buy into Jalouse for that matter.
“Fuck that shit I wanna be her! Well dude, it’s easy, just buy Jalouse and be like me! Or at least be my friend or something…”
So, the point is to make a certain idyllic image that seems effortlessly attainable; all one has to do is purchase the product: it definitely tells us what to desire. But is the how actually that easy? In reality, what fashion thrives on is the constant renewability of styles. It only works through the generating of a constant desire for novelty, as fashion is never satisfied with the here and now. The business of fashion consists of the chase after something that can never be attained or satisfied. In some sense, fashion is desire. And desire is life. This is what makes fashion so appealing, and in combination with a medium that tells us how to desire, the fashion film is capable of inspiring us to the consumption of fashion as something desirable.