Where film and fashion meet


South Africa’s inaugural International Fashion Film Festival took place in Cape Town
earlier this year at Crossley & Webb’s Vintage Automobile Studio.

Co-sponsored by German luxury car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz, the festival was
a celebration of the contemporary arts of fashion and film, bringing together
international filmmakers, designers, fashion slaves and film fanatics.

Adrian Lazarus, founder of the Mercedes-Benz Bokeh International Fashion Film
Festival and owner of Cape Town-based video production company Mercury
Productions, has been photographing fashion for the past 10 years, and has
successfully made the transition to shooting fashion films.

“Fashion films originally started off as behind-the-scenes videos. Subsequently,
over the years, as DSLR cameras have become more user-friendly for video, as
bandwidth speeds have increased and as editing software has become friendlier,
on-set photographers are asked more and more to shoot video,’ Lazarus explains.

If you’ve never seen or heard of a fashion film before, it’s important to establish
that these videos are not solely about fashion, and not necessarily about the clothes
they showcase. The fashion film is a fresh new take on the commercial, running for
three to five minutes, including elements of a traditional television advert but taking
a far less obtrusive stance that a commercial would.

Lazarus comments: “The fashion film sells you the essence of the brand…It has got
nothing to do with literally selling anything, and everything to do with brand
awareness. It is a brand video that celebrates the essence of the brand.’

Fashion heavyweights Karl Lagerfeld, Bruce Webber and David Simms pioneered the
fashion film genre, molding it into the essential way to introduce new collections to
the world. These fashion films have become so prolific in recent years, paving the
way for a completely new genre of film.

“Hundreds of fashion films are being made every day, some of them are complete
rubbish and some of them are really good. I look at the guys making fashion films
now like the guys who were making music videos in the 80s – the only rule is that
you can’t make it too long because people will switch off. It’s all visual. The better
ones have a fantastic, strong narrative but generally they are more visual than
narrative,’ says Lazarus.

Last year Lazarus’ fashion film, Steam 1886, won the award for Best Art Direction
at the International Fashion Film Festival in La Jolla, California. The steampunk-
inspired film was co-directed by Nicky Felbert and had previously also won the Best
Costume award at the Miami International Fashion Film Festival. At the Design
Indaba earlier this year, Steam 1886 was named Most Beautiful Object in South
Africa for 2014.

“Steam 1886 is a little bit of fantasy which I made up that’s got to do with steam-
punk. It is an imagined reality of what would have happened to Victorian fashion
and technology if it were still steam driven,’ Lazarus explains.

This year, 500 film entries were submitted for the inaugural festival in Cape Town,
of which 57 were chosen for the final selection to be shown over two nights at the
festival. Thereafter a judging panel made up of 15 film and fashion professionals
both local and international, selected the best of the final 15 to win awards.

There were 10 award categories, plus the additional Mercedes-Benz South Africa
award – a $5 000 prize.

• BEST ACTRESS: Kim Lysette in Alive
• BEST ACTOR: Oliver Baggerman from The Long Road
• BEST HAIR: Quimera
• BEST MAKE UP: Immortal Game
• BEST FASHION: Lovers Game
• BEST VISUAL EFFECTS: Black Era – Court of the Ants
• BEST ART DIRECTION: Arcade by Kirsten Goss
• BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY: Pablo Clemente for Pasos de Sirena
• BEST DIRECTOR: Samual A Martin for Alive
• BEST PICTURE: Damien Krisi for Urban Hippie
• MERCEDES-BENZ AWARD: Ernst Heusser for Wanderlust

Fashion films are fast becoming the new form of communication to convey the
lifestyle and essence of a brand without going as far as overt forms of advertising
and marketing. “Welcome to the new world of communication,’ Lazarus concludes.


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