When was the last time that you purchased a printed fashion magazine? For the budding fashion enthusiast, who loves vintage products and is arguably a fashion collector, it might have not been so long ago. But with the rise of accessibility to fashion on digital mediums such as Instagram, Twitter or YouTube – one might say, what’s the point in purchasing a magazine in print, if it’s all accessible online? This is therefore a new challenge for designers and print publishers to consider as COVID-19 has shifted us into a world full of digital communication. Subsequently, leading designers to think about how they can innovatively adopt digital platforms to communicate their latest fashion designs with imagination and impact. Perhaps this shift was needed as there has been a tone of stagnation across the industry. It’s been decades since we have seen the likes of Alexander McQueen’s Highland Rape (1995) which was daring, bold and pushed the boundaries and parameters in fashion through runway performance.
Now, with the theme of change and evolution underpinning 2021 it’s worth recognising which designers have successfully adopted the digital space to create new ways of accessing fashion experientially online. After watching some of Vogue’s YouTube videos to see what latest designers and fashion trends were being discussed, I came across a video by Dior. It was a 15-minute short film and the first thing I thought of was: Motion Editorial. I’d been looking through Vogue’s printed March edition and had seen the exact same image of Dior’s Spring/Summer editorial collection from the cover video. This code of synergy was effective. Yet, I couldn’t help but feeling like the page turning exercise of looking at the excessive number of fashion advertisements in the magazine lacked a sense of depth and expression to the texture and appeal surrounding the physical clothing. Even Vogue’s choice of paper felt cheap, a far cry from the expression that the designers at Dior want to translate through their latest collection. However, in Dior’s YouTube video, a more enticing step forward is taking place by their creative director, Maria Grazia Chiruri.
‘Le Château du Tarot’ (The Tarot Deck) is the latest motion editorial from Dior, available to watch online and represents an atmospheric interpretation of the Spring/Summer 2021 collection. The narrative is informed by decoding the imagery of a tarot deck. Featured are the models who transform the latest fashion garments into costumes that embody the different tarot cards, such as The High Priestess, The Devil, and The Magician. This is a playful and performative way of reimagining the garments to echo the luxe and exuberance which surrounds the fabrication of the designs. Within the film, the romanticised set design echoed by the suspenseful classical music, and sensual performances created a whimsical feeling that was unbound to a specific moment in time. In particular, the protagonist is represented as both feminine and masculine as she walks through the rectangular arches and encounters the other models. Through this, the gesture of oneness is conveyed in relation to Dior’s fashion designs – being accessible for both genders to enjoy. This creates a theatrical expression of their 2021 spring/summer collection that can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.
Another video that is worth watching is Virgil Abloh’s Men’s Fall-Winter 2021 film for Louis Vuitton, ‘Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light’, which is now streaming on YouTube. The diverse collaborative effort that went into producing the film is represented through the noticeable collision of art, performance, music and fashion. Directed by the trans filmmaker, Wu Tsang, there is a clear tone about gender and identity politics created through the casting of models and the narration surrounding the visuals. The fashion collection emerges in an expansive, snowy white landscape, which appears to be the Alps, and a mysterious figure approaches, carrying a silver LV briefcase. The bag becomes the catalyst for the shifting tone that unravels throughout the video. But firstly, the person carrying it is hip hop artist, Saul Williams. This is particularly relevant to the overall aesthetic that Abloh wanted to create in the film as the video transports us to a surrealistic interpretation of what appears to be a waiting area in an airport. With male models entering on ice-skates, dancing to hip-hop and experimental jazz compositions, alongside a live performance by Yasiin Bey (rapper Mos Def), the fashion collections are existing in a performative and contemporary gaze of masculinity – where diversity between hyper-masculine and softness inhabits. Through Abloh’s use of film he is citing a wider network of arts, culture and identity to create a way of seeing fashion as a steppingstone to shifting stereotypes and most importantly, celebrating alternative attitudes.
Similarly, in the Miu Miu Fall/Winter 2021 fashion show, ‘Brave Hearts’, the grand snowy landscape of what also appears to be the Alps, becomes the backdrop for their motion editorial. The delicate embroideries of ski masks and face coverings are represented at high altitude, as the models journey on what appears to be a mission towards reaching the highest point of a snowy mountain. Cinematically, the textile embellishments, knitwear and layered garments culminate for appreciation in a ritualistic circle which transcends the collection with a tone of exclusivity and adornment. This style of performance transforms the garments from existing in the two-dimensional realm of appreciation and instead, we can imagine them as clothes that are wearable for our everyday endeavours.
Contrastingly, the creative director of Saint Laurent, Anthony Vaccarello released a short film on YouTube called ‘I Wish You Were Here’ to represent the Summer 2021 womenswear collection. The tone in this video largely centres around the idea of ‘less being more’ as the garments are modelled centre stage in a more traditional runway vibe. However, the soft and dreamy landscape of sand-dunes, (which were a popular aesthetic across last year), becomes the utopian space for the collection to be embodied in. The monochrome and sheer silhouettes blow in the wind as the models make walking on sand in six-inch heels look effortless. Elegance is therefore an understatement for the hauntingly delicate mood created through this performance. The wide-angle shots of the Saint Laurent dunes, paired with the effect of use lighting creates a perfect canvas for the dresses and bold coloured, mesh fabrics to be appreciated against. In particular, the music is dramatic and adds a mystical layer to the question of where the models are walking to as they are presented on a repeated journey of exploration. A real sense of freedom is portrayed through this meditative and continuous journey of the infinite desert landscape – creating the perfect escapism for us to admire the collections.
Interestingly, for their Ready-to-wear Fall collection Schiaparelli, brought the medium of fashion photography to life, which became the underpinning mood for their motion editorial. Affectively, the creative direction team have combined a way of seeing still photography by revealing the process of staging the models in the garments and using lighting to capture them. This sense of meta-awareness brings a liveliness to the metallic, golden jewellery and monochrome clothing collection’s being embodied by the different models. Here, Schiaparelli’s gaze of a motion editorial shapes the behind-the-scenes process a work of art, in itself.
Recognisably, in the Prada Fall/Winter 21 Women’s collection video there is a hypnotising sense of order created through the maze formation of steps carved out by the models. This is represented through the furry set design of block colours with rectangular doors, intersecting the different spaces together. The models solely exist on a repeated loop to portray the materiality and texture of each garment. This is amplified through the techno inspired music, which has an essence of contemplative, biannual beats to it. Through this use of sound, in cohesion to the tamed expression of models, as they confidently carry the varied oversized and tailored garments, the motion editorial becomes a lifestyle of chic volume and sophistication.
Comparatively, a more liberating gaze is addressed in Dries Van Noten’s Women’s Autumn Winter 2021-22 motion editorial. The use of contemporary dance and free-flowing choreography asserts a tone of ambiguity onto the garments. With the audio created by the musicians Massive Attack, and the creative direction led by Casper Wackerhausen-Sejersen, there is an intimate expression of the arts colliding with fashion culture. The performance offers an anti-romantic gaze of fashion as the dancing is crude and confrontational. This leads to the mood of desirability being challenged through the aggressive stances of the models and dancers while displaying the clothing – a tone which is rarely acknowledged within the industry. Despite functioning as a medium to sell the varied textured and tailored garments, this motion editorial embraces a dramatic attitude of releasing one’s inhibitions through daring to express one’s self with a velocity of confidence.
It is safe to conclude that the future of fashion exists within the space of intersecting other disciplines such as film, art and music into the expression of the designs. Motion editorials are an effective way for designers to represent their latest collections. It’s almost as though the longevity for fashion brands will be determined through their ability to upkeep an engaging digital form of display to best portray the aesthetics, moods and tones of each collection. As shown through Dior, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Saint Laurent, Schiaparelli, Prada, and Dries Van Noten, the styles of film expression will be skewed, dependent on the brand identity and intended message. But most importantly, these opposing brand identities will hopefully lead to more revolutionary ways for us to consume and enjoy fashion in contemporary culture, beyond the bounds of printed publications, runway performances and store installations as we know them.