Videos have long been used in fragrance campaigns – remember Nicole Kidman in Baz Luhrmann's Chanel No. 5 mini-opus? Now, fashion houses are also enlisting filmmakers to lend cachet to their goods, making fashion film a nascent genre. During last month's Toronto International Film Festival, Armani threw a party to toast six short films by burgeoning filmmakers. Their subject: Armani eyewear. Wes Anderson and Roman Polanski have also directed videos for Prada, while Harmony Korine has done so for Proenza Schouler.
When filmmakers don't have global fashion brands as clients, almost anything goes. "You can pretty much do whatever you want, as long as it has clothing," says Canadian director Eva Michon over the phone from her L.A. studio. Take her Bucatini Allo Scoglio, which features Canadian actor Maxwell McCabe-Lokos as two different characters having dinner, each sporting women's clothes by designers Jeremy Laing and Calla Haynes.
Michon's film is among the shorts screening at the Disconnect Fashion Film Festival in Toronto on Oct. 22. Launched in 2010 by Dwayne Kennedy, Mel Ashcroft and Brian A. Richards, founders of the Toronto brand-consulting and production company The Collections, the festival began as a forum for fashion photographers to explore film, but has since grown into a platform for up-and-coming directors of all backgrounds.
At "Fashion Week, which celebrates the designers," Richards says, other contributions to fashion, such as film, "are completely neglected." That's a shame, he adds, because the work is often impressive and artistic.
"The purpose of a fashion film is to encapsulate the idea behind the collection that you're showcasing," says Michon. "It makes fashion more three-dimensional and not just about clothes."
This year's Disconnect lineup includes editorials commissioned by magazines, campaign videos (such as ballet dancer Zofia Tujaka sporting Rad Hourani's unisex collection) and original works, including Michon's. The dozen or so films are united under the theme Electrical Era, an exploration of how the digital age and technology can lead to a disconnect. The one– to five-minute shorts will be screened in one sitting at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, a new venue for the festival (previous editions have been held in local bars) and a sign of the genre's growing popularity.
"To have it in a place where top films have been screened," Kennedy says, "is really exciting."
For more information, visit disconnectfff.com.