The limits of fashion film?

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Salvador Dali / Walt Disney

So what is fashion film?” is probably the most frequently asked question regarding this new, upcoming and still developing film genre. Generally the answer lies somewhere along the lines of a short film that is inspired by fashion, either by featuring it or recreating the overall feeling or philosophy of a certain fashion brand or movement. This results in a great variety of films made by diverse filmmakers and in different contexts that are in one way or another connected to fashion designers/brands. “Fashion” thus seems to be the binding factor, but what exactly does this entail? In other words, what is the limit of fashion film? Let’s take the example of Destino (2003).

Destino is a short animation film initiated by Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. It portrays the dream-like reality of a Disney princess in which every perception seems to be an illusion and morphs into constantly changing shapes and objects that all perfectly fit together. Nothing ever stands still and seems self-evident, there is always a different truth to be seen. She falls in love but she can never reach her prince as he seems to be everywhere and nowhere. Like a light feather she flows through the imaginary universe of her own animated texture – a world in which everything is possible.

Even though Destino doesn’t have a direct link with “fashion” in the sense that there are no real clothes involved, nor is it directly connected to a fashion brand or designer, I still think it is interesting in the light of fashion film. There is for example the scene in which the princess is gracefully dancing around in her white-translucent dress. The long fabric then gets tied up in the hand of a strange figure, forcing the princess to undress and pursue her journey naked. At this point, her body is only seen from far away, folded up, or as a shadow. In other words, the princess can’t fully be without her gown. She is missing a part of her, and she has to find a way to gain it back in order for her physical form to again participate fully in the animation.

She then literally dresses in the very fabric of the film by diving into its surface – in this case some kind of sandstone. The shadow of the bell naturally shapes itself around her body to provide her with a new dress. The film in itself therefore becomes a matter of dress. The different textures of the animation quite literally function as a piece of fabric (like the original film screen!) that only comes to its right in movement, folding into many different shapes, hiding some parts and revealing others.

In the end, it is beautiful but at the same time heartbreaking to see that the only way the princess can find herself in the arms of her prince is through her dress – an empty piece of fabric that disappears in his embrace. Indeed, the character of “the princess” is often reduced to her fancy dresses, without which she wouldn’t be a princess.

Schermafbeelding 2016-08-10 om 16.55.35

In short, dress plays a fundamental role in the construction of Destino‘s main character, and it quite literally draws parallels between the fabric of the film and dress. It therefore shows that film is an interesting medium to explore the texture of dress and to think fashion outside of the box, or, outside of the current reality, advancing in this way. In my eyes, this is also what fashion film can be – a means to think about the future of fashion.

Thoughts? share your “non-traditional” fashion film & describe why it challenges the genre.



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