New York Fashion Film Festival founders explore the genre of fashion films

Each year, the New York Fashion Film Festival gathers aficionados of fashion and film for an evening of exploration and discussion about this new genre of fashion film. The festival is a collaborative effort between Stephen Frailey, Bon Duke, Chris Labzda and Jimmy Moffat and is held at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.

The festival highlights the best fashion films of the year, and doesn’t differentiate between films shot by novice filmmakers and those backed by big budgets and a Coppola. Showcasing emerging talent is important to the founders of the festival, as the genre of fashion film continues to mold and evolve. In the last decade the prominence of fashion films have grown exponentially. Easier access to equipment, and the ‘more-is-more’ work ethic we’ve adapted to as a society has lead creatives to explore their talents in many different fields . This kind of attitude is what has allowed fashion designers such as Tom Ford the opportunity to try their hand at directing. The festival echoes this attitude, as it offers a platform for directors who are able to work in different disciplines.

Fashion films demand a fine balance – they must be able to show the clothing without actually having the clothes overpower the narrative – to sell without being overt. Fashion films continue to grow and evolve each season as it becomes increasingly more popular for fashion houses to show a video alongside each collection. It’s been a fast turn around time, helped by the advent of social media and the global reach of these films. And they do not disappoint. From elaborate, sweeping productions to reviving hilarious sitcom characters, directors have blended so many genres to create the new genre of fashion film.

Because fashion films have become so integral to the business of fashion in such a short amount of time, it leads to many questions about its future in fashion. What other interactive opportunities could come from the merging of fashion and video? Will still images and fashion films live side by side?

We headed to Manhattan to interview three of the four partners of the New York Fashion Film Festival, and asked them to share with us their opinion on what makes a good fashion film, their first recollection of a fashion film and their plans for opening up the festival in other markets.


Check out our favorite films by Monica Menez, Danny Sangra and Gareth Pugh 

Simone Oliver on the visual journey of Street Style

When Instagram announced that it would be adding video in mid- 2013, the press immediately dismissed it as a calculated move for parent company Facebook to combat the popular, Twitter owned, Vine video app. Instagram’s change didn’t hurl Vine into the virtual purgatory that Hi5 and Friendster inhabit, as critics were sure it would. Instead, the growth of Instagram pushed Vine to define itself, and it’s done just that, reemerging as comedic community with six second skits and video memes.

The progression from photo to video on the internet has been gradual; YouTube’s arrival in 2005 completely changed the way that society shares information, by generating a video platform for anyone with access to a camera. In less than a decade, it’s spawned an entire enterprise of vloggers, gurus, and entertainers who sustain an income solely from creating videos for their YouTube channel. Video is now a preferred method of communication with the introduction of applications like FaceTime and Skype, and the question of how video and photography will coincide together is becoming a major topic of interest.

We, the people of the internet, now demand more social interaction than ever before. The popularity of video is understandable; it satiates human curiosity more than the pixels in a still image can. A video offers a way to humanize the message that you are delivering – whether from a person or a brand.

Simone Oliver, Online Fashion Editor at the New York Times has an eye for technological trends as much as style trends. She recognized the growing interest in alternative forms of media early on and in 2007 was instrumental in turning Bill Cunningham’s street style column into a fashion soundscape. Each piece has Bill’s voice narrating over his photographs, enthused as he sparks off facts and anecdotes in his signature sweet style. The combination has proven to work well; it offers a more intimate experience and the viewer can glean much about Bill by hearing why he chose to feature certain photos in his column that day.

Simone continued to innovate by adding Intersection, a selection of street style videos to the Style section of the Times. She was inspired by the unique, everyday fashion that New Yorkers are well known for. Using video rather than photography for street style presents the story of these ordinary people in such a different way. People we see in the streets aren’t usually models – what makes them interesting is their styling, and implied confidence more than any particular garment they have on. Intersection has expanded to include people in different epicentres around the world and some more obscure places.

It will be interesting to see what the next advancement in technology will be, but Simone is ready. Her aptitude for incorporating technology and savvy interest in social media is the kind of thing that keeps the Times at the forefront of digital journalism. We visited Simone at the Times headquarters in Manhattan and asked her to share with us what it was like working with Bill, starting intersection and about her fondness for social media.