A chat with Diane Pernet – ‘Fashion Film’ is a vibrant and still relatively new applied art form

Along with pioneering the advent of fashion blogging via her blog ‘A Shaded View on Fashion’ (ASVOF), celebrated fashion writer Diane Pernet is also credited with spearheading the fashion film genre, providing a new interactive medium through which artists, photographers and designers can collaborate on creative projects. Prior to launching ASVOF in 2005, Diane Pernet was a Women’s Fashion Editor for Joyce ( print version ), Digital Fashion Editor for Elle France and Vogue Paris. Diane had relocated to Paris at the end of 1990, on October 3rd, landing her first role as a costume designer for the film Golem l’Esprit d’Exile in 1992. A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF) is the first annual festival in the world about fashion films created Diane Pernet and launched in September 2008 as a three-day event at the national museum of Paris, Jeu de Paume, ASVOFF which took the form of a full festival showcasing feature films, documentaries, conferences, performances and installations.

Interview with Diane Pernet 

Denise: Who is inspiring you in fashion industry? 

Diane Pernet: Designers that have their own signature like: Dries Van Noten, Rick Owens, Rei Kawakuba. Undercover, Matty Bovan, Issey Miyake. And inspiration is not coming from fashion it is everywhere around us when you walk on the street you can be inspired by almost anything, when you go to an exhibition, when you pick up a book, go to a film. Inspiration is everywhere.

Denise: I think A Shaded View on Fashion Film is really amazing. What is the message you want to send through this festival? 

Diane Pernet: Essentially it is the diverse ways you can express fashion through film. ‘Fashion film’ is a vibrant and still relatively new applied art form that has huge potential.  It can also be a bona fide art form of its own accord unlocking new creative energies to communicate fashion with the power of cinema and persuade consumers to tap into a brand.  At the essence of it all, I suppose that the easiest way to define it is this… Fashion film is a film where fashion is the protagonist, rather than a prop.   Fashion is a high-impact, fleeting concept by its very nature so usually they are short films.  Certainly for my festival we focus mainly on fashion films that are between 30 seconds and 17 minutes to be in the short film competition. Longer ones are out of competition. And you could argue, from another perspective, that a few feature films and documentaries over the course of cinematic history have also served as long fashion films. We have a lot of documentaries and a few feature films in ASVOFF 10. There are many interpretations as to what constitutes a ‘fashion film’. I think that we’re still exploring exactly what the parameters are because this is still a relatively new genre.  It will probably take some time before there is any kind of consensus. And anyway, the beauty of the creative universe is that we are always confronted with new interpretations, revolutions and provocations that test our ideas on how to define things whether they be broad disciplines like art, fashion, cinema  — or sub-disciplines like ‘fashion film’.  So I am enjoying being a part of this early process.  Apart from a few feature length films that deal with fashion as a topic, most ‘fashion films’ at the moment are in the short film format length.   

Denise: What is the importance of short films/documentaries for fashion brands? 

Diane Pernet: First of all, these films help generate real business for the brands because they can be a highly effective medium for viral online advertising, PR and marketing.  The format is still very experimental so this also allows brands a way to show another dimension to the brand universe than just a conventional advertising campaign.   By being able to make an affordable ‘fashion film’ in addition to a glossy video advertisement campaign, a brand can now show off a particular aspect of the collection — for instance a narrative about its artisanal heritage — or specific brand values like its environmental credentials or other associations it wants to make for highly-targeted marketing campaigns”. In today’s media culture, a format such as ‘fashion film’ — which is more spontaneous and less scripted — can be very attractive to consumers when they are exposed to the brand in an online environment.  Another thing to keep in mind is that the ‘fashion film’ phenomenon has opened the door for  small and medium sized fashion brands to make video ads for the very first time.  Previously, before the internet developed to a point which became suitable for ‘fashion film’ to flourish, only the giant fashion brands had enough budget to make video ads because TV and cinema advertising rates were the only outlet and they were very expensive.  But now, ‘fashion film’ can be accessed — without any additional cost to the brand — from their own websites, through social media sites or video channels on the internet so this means brands only need to pay for the production of the film, not advertising space itself.  And even the production costs for ‘fashion film’ can be a lot less expensive than traditional TV fashion ads in the past.  Because the spirit of ‘fashion film’ is typically one where the consumer expects brands to push the boundaries a bit more and to not necessarily be quite so precious about things.”

Denise: Can you mention some qualities that a filmmaker needs to have to gain the 10th edition of ASVOFF?  

Diane Pernet: It is pure instinct, does it take me some place I have not already been, how is it constructed, does it merit being a film or is it just a photo shoot in motion, that does not interest me at all no matter how beautiful the images are. .  Good fashion films are an inspiring way to creatively engage with people on less commercial and more noble level too. They can sometimes even be genuine work of art. I don’t fool myself into thinking that fashion film is going to touch everyone everywhere but I do believe that there is a place for it to have mass appeal and, at least, for a few special fashion films to inspire a lot of people.  What I can also say is that fashion and film have long been connected and interdependent in many many ways so, consequently,  ‘fashion film’ will certainly help both of these industries to evolve into an even closer and more fascinating relationship in the very near future.  We can’t forget that ‘fashion film’ is still in its incubation period, really even though ASVOFF is in its 10th edition and prior to that I had You Wear it Well for 2 years so I’ve created fashion film festivals since 2006.  Yet it definitely has a lot more potential as it evolves too.

Denise: How did you start ASVOFF project and why? 

Diane Pernet: In 2006 when I started my first fashion film festival, no one even knew what a fashion film was.  Awareness has of course blossomed since then in the creative communities and even among the public to a certain extent.  The number of fashion films being created is also growing exponentially.  Most importantly, the level of creativity, time and effort directors and designers are putting into fashion films is gaining leaps and bounds every year. And so is the quality. But it hasn’t always been easy along the way.  Nurturing something virtually from the ground-up never is.  Some people in the fashion industry used to treat fashion film as a novelty — or they were just perplexed.  But they began to take it much more seriously when they put it into the context of the digital revolution and new commercial realities.  They also saw that, at the same time, there was this movement toward merging fashion and film as a new package in the entertainment industry.  So fashion film as a creative genre now makes more sense to early naysayers because now 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 that spread virally like wild fire through social media networks.  And as online, tablet and smartphone media channels grow ever more important, fashion film is filling important business niches and offering artistic solutions to challenges we could never have imagined even a few years ago. What’s probably most interesting though is that fashion film itself is also creating totally new, sometimes unexpected opportunities as it evolves. 

Interview by Denisee P. – Creative Scouter & Fashion Editor 33 Magazine

Location ASVOFF10
Palais Bulles ©PhotoLouis-Philippe BREYDEL

Diane Pernet with the generous support of Mr. Pierre Cardin presents ASVOFF10 at Palais Bulles. 

A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF) is the first annual festival in the world about fashion films created Diane Pernet and launched in September 2008 as a three-day event at the national museum of Paris, Jeu de Paume, ASVOFF which took the form of a full festival showcasing feature films, documentaries, conferences, performances and installations. Pioneering, having brought together names such as Mike Figgis, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Erwin Olaf, Nobuyoshi Araki, Wing Shya, Steven Klein, Chris Cunningham, Chloë Sevigny, Ruth Hogben, Georgie Greville, Elisha Smith-Leverock, Waris Ahluwalla, Maison Yves Saint Laurent, Nick Knight, Johan Renck, Jerry Schatzberg, William Klein, Tim Yip, Larry Clark, Ellen Von Unwerth, Bruce Weber, Inez van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin, Indrani, Rossy de Palma, Michael Nyman and welcomed by: Centre Pompidou, Jeu de Paume, Milano’s Palazzo Morando, FIAF, NYC, Festival du nouveau cinema Montreal, CPH-DOX, Barbican Art Gallery, Guggenheim, Bilbao, Pica Contemporary Art Museum, Perth with the support of Italian Vogue, Bvlgari, Dom Perignon, FIAF and Kering.

Diane Pernet & Cuba Tornado Scott at Nu Boyana Studios
Photo: Pascal Collet | Diane Pernet with Cuba Tornado Scott and Teddy at Nu Boyana Film Studios during ASVOFF9

Diane Pernet’s first degree was in documentary film making at Temple University and she has been making small low-fi movies for years. She also worked as a costume designer for, amongst others, director Amos Gitai. So the founder of ASVOFF knows how important fashion is in a film.

Held at the Jeu de Paume museum, then at the Centre Pompidou until 2015, the festival focuses on short films in which fashion holds “a proper, definite role,” as stated by Pernet. In 2016 and 2017, it held international editions in Shanghai and Sofia, Bulgaria, as well as showcases during the Cannes Film Festival.

Diane Pernet & Eric Daman at ASVOFF9
Photo: Pascal Collet | Diane Pernet with Eric Daman at Nu Boyana Film Studios during ASVOFF9 in Sofia

The 10th-anniversary edition of  “A Shaded View on Fashion Film” will be held Sept. 7 to 9 at Pierre Cardin’s Palais Bulles, located in the French city of Théoule-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean coast.

The 10th Anniversary Edition of the International Festival 
will occur September 7, 8 & 9 at Palais Bulles of Théoule-sur-Mer .
Open for submissions till April 30th at 
©PhotoRemyFAY | Palais Bulles of Théoule-sur-Mer


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