Diane Pernet’s film festival, A Shaded View on Fashion Film (ASVOFF) made it's first visit to Chicago. The program was organized by Gallery Aesthete, the School of Art Institute of Chicago and StyleZeitgeist. There was a Q&A session with Diane Pernet after the screening, during which Diane candidly shared her opinions on a variety of fashion and film topics:
Q: How did you start ASVOFF:
DP: I was making lo-fi fashion films in the 90’s and in 2006, Eley Kishimoto, half-British/half-Japanese, asked me to make a road movie for the launch of his men’s wear brand, it was called Adventure Pleasure. The film was 18 minutes and I showed it to my LA collaborator and he said, “do you want to show it in LA?” and I said yes, the next day my Mexico City collaborator sent a fashion film and I thought, “I don’t want to just show my film, let’s make a festival;” very naively, it started like that. And it was called, You Wear It Well, for two years. Then in 2008, I realized I was doing all the work and my collaborator wasn’t doing anything -- in very LA style, so I decided to do it myself. I had to change the name, so I made it an extension of the blog. And the first one with the name ASVOFF was shown at Jeu de Paume, the contemporary museum in Paris.
Q: What is a fashion film:
DP: People are always asking for an explanation of a fashion film, and in my mind, you judge it by the same criteria that you judge any other film except fashion has to be the protagonist. And if you look at the films you see the idea of the festival is to show the diverse ways you can express fashion through film. It can be feature films, short films, documentaries. And with this particular selection, [that we take on the road, we] actually went through seven years of archives and customized this selection.
Q: What is your favorite fashion film:
DP: It’s like asking someone which child is your favorite? Um, I’ll give you two that we saw today, the first one is called Headpieces For Peace, it’s quite fun and there was a little story with that. Jessica Mitrani was the director, she’s Colombian, living in New York for a long time, she submitted the film and the minute I saw it, I loved it. The other one is from Stuart Blumberg, She Said, She Said, the next to last film, I love that film. I never get tired of looking it. I never get tired of looking at the last one either, or the one that started this edition [of the festival] ... I can’t reduce to just one; I’m a libra, it’s impossible.
Q: About how she began her career:
DP: My degree is in filmmaking when I was in university. I went to that famous Bill Cosby university, he was our famous star, I’m sure they took him off now, Temple University. They had a film school. After film school, I just worked in it for a tiny bit, and then worked as a reportage photographer and then studied fashion, and I had my own brand for 13 years. Putting together the festival, it was just two things I really love; to me it’s like completing a circle. It was organic. Everything I do is organic; and I’m very happy doing it.
Q: About why she and other fashion types wear all black:
DP: I think it’s a personal choice, I mean, how it started that I was wearing black, was when I was a fashion designer, I found that if I was wearing prints and colors, it was really competing with what I was doing; so it made me more like a canvas, and I felt good in black. It makes me feel strong. I love colors, that’s what people don’t understand, I just don’t wear them. But I love them.
Q: About the traveling festival:
DP: The festival has been many places in the world, from Perth, Australia to Moscow to Belarus; it’s been ... in Chicago; and it starts in Centre Pompidou, Paris in December. And in certain places it’s a one day screening of winners.
Q: Thought about fashion:
DP: What is interesting to me is the narrative; you can have an art film that works with no narrative .... but personally, I like narratives. I visited with the students at School of the Art Institute of Chicago and just like with film I say, don’t make a collection if you have nothing to say. You start when you have something to say. The more personal it is, the more successful it is. I was impressed by a lot of the stories [from the students at SAIC].
Q: On growing the fashion industry in Chicago:
DP: When we go to places like Mexico, or any country, or Dubai, people are always saying, well, we want to be like Paris, can you see that in the future? And the thing is, you’re competing with places like Paris that have a long, long history of fashion. So, it takes a while to develop a market. It doesn’t happen overnight.