Fashion brands are turning to arthouse filmmakers to help weave a little magic into their online fashion shows. With the pandemic forcing Paris Fashion week online, haute couture designers are eager to add spectacle to their presentations. And who better to do that than celebrated arthouse filmmakers?

Fashion and film have been inextricably linked for the past century, with designers drawing inspiration from the silver screen and auteurs going to great lengths to secure the perfect costumes for their characters.

Fashion and film have always shared a strong bond. Designers have constantly drawn inspiration from the silver screen. Likewise, filmmakers have always looked to fashion to conceptualise costumes for their productions.

Naturally, this strong correlation has seen filmmakers collaborate with fashion houses over the years. Talented auteurs such as Sofia Coppola and Martin Scorsese have lent their talents to fashion commercials. But now with live fashion shows forced to go digital due to the pandemic, fashion houses are tapping filmmakers to inject their creative vision to their presentations.

When Film Meets Fashion

Filmmakers and fashion
Matteo Garrone lends his artistic vision to Dior (Image: Dior on Instagram)

That said, most will admit a growing desperation to return to live shows. However, in these uncertain times, the fashion world needs a touch of magic more than ever. Last year, we saw Gucci collaborating with Gus Van Sant to help elevate its digital fashion and film festival.

This year, Dior drafted in Italian director Matteo Garrone for its latest collection inspired by tarot cards.

The filmmaker behind recent left-field hits such as Gomorrah and Pinocchio created a dreamlike adventure in which a young woman crosses paths with tarot characters such as Justice, the Madman and Death. The creations on display mix the feminine — a long lace dress with voluminous sleeves — with the masculine, in the form of a reinvented version of Dior’s iconic “bar” suit.

“Tarot cards speak of a magical world,” said Maria Grazia Chiuri, the fashion house’s Italian haute couture designer. “Not to tell us the future, but to better understand the present and our personality.”

Garrone’s “artisanal approach to film-making has a language that is poetic, extremely picturesque, that marries up very well with my vision of haute couture,” she told AFP.

Creativity Is A Refuge

Chanel’s online presentation also featured a short film and photos by cult film favourite Anton Corbijn. The celebrated filmmaker is known for his gritty Joy Division biopic Control and many photographic portraits of rock icons.

“I knew that we couldn’t organise a major catwalk show, that we had to do something else. So I had the idea of a little cortege that descends the stairs of the Grand Palais. Like a family celebration, a marriage,” said Virginie Viard, Chanel’s creative director.

Such positive energy has been hard to maintain as the pandemic grinds on, delaying the return to the glitz and glamour of live fashion events. “It’s pointless to deny that the catwalk shows are a key element, not just for Dior, but for the whole fashion world. The guests are a part of the show,” said Chiuri.

She is preparing a pret-a-porter collection for the next Fashion Week in March, though she has no idea what will happen. “The start of the year has been very difficult. There have been ups and downs. It is tiring to constantly find the strength to keep pushing forward. But creativity is a refuge in these difficult times,” she said.

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