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Fashion Talk: Brand films are the new way to get style seekers excited

Fashion is all about brand films, which can prove to be the greatest form of advertising, as H&M found with their collaboration with the designer brand Marni.

Seen any good movies lately? Like Pedro Almodovar's Todo Sobre Missoni? A clue to what it's all about can be found in its title, which translates as "all about Missoni", a play of words on the Spanish director's award-winning 1999 film.

Right now, fashion is all about movies, or rather "brand films" which have taken over the age-old fashion "still", perhaps even the catwalk show format.

Brand films are the new pop video. You can watch them on YouTube - even if fashion isn't really your thing.

The aim of a brand film is to trigger endless Twitter talking points and thousands of YouTube hits. Ultimately, this can prove the greatest advertising, as H&M found with their collaboration with the slightly left-field designer brand, Marni.

By getting Marc Jacobs's muse and cool director Sofia Coppola on-board to create a short film showcasing Marni, aimed at the young, digitally-led generation, the world's second largest retailer created a social networking buzz which subsequently triggered a global stampede for their product.

Missoni's seasonal offering for spring/summer 2012 takes on the format of a children's pop-up book. It wins style points for featuring a grinning Mariacarla Boscono, a catwalk muse not normally known for her smile.

Is she smiling because (if rumours are true) the supermodel is pregnant? Or is it because, like several of her peers - Jourdan Dunn and Raquel Zimmerman, for instance - she is at last moving from modelling to acting? In future, all models will have to be adept at reading scripts as cat walking.

A career in fashion films, rather than fashion design, is now considered the trendiest option for stylish teenagers. For the first time ever at the London College of Fashion last year, courses for creative direction for fashion specialising in styling, brand image and style communication, and fashion media production and fashion film specialising in digital media, were more oversubscribed than fashion design.

You are now more likely to overhear shoppers discuss the merits of a brand movie than an "it" bag.

Although the idea of a fashion movie is not exactly new - Nick Knight's award-winning fashion website, SHOW Studio, has championed the moving image since 2000 - the brand campaign movie has become the new normal, especially in terms of showcasing a brand globally.

Newer and fresher than a catwalk show, which online does not always translate and can appear elitist or simply out of touch, a brand movie can hone in on key accessories, make-up and in-house designers, who normally only come out fleetingly at the end of a show.

The new genre owes much to Karl Lagerfeld, who tweaked the format from a behind-the-scenes-of-a-shoot to an artsy short film with a beginning, middle and end often featuring women or men of various generations, great music and a dollop of humour.

Lagerfeld's 2010 Chanel offering, Remember Now, featured the beautiful model/actress Elisa Sednaoui opposite the beguiling French actor Pascal Greggory. He has also used his favourite muses Kristen McMenamy and Lady Amanda Harlech in brand movies.

Lagerfeld pulls his films away from what you might expect, a pseudo artsy vein, into a more fitting populist niche perfectly suited to the modern designer superleague with its legions of fans in emerging nations like China.

Christian Dior, the famous French fashion house, recently aired the fifth instalment of its series of Lady Dior films.

Starring Marion Cotillard, the comedy, entitled L.A.dy Dior, shows an actress sick of the business. It is well worth watching, particularly for any fan of Lady Dior handbags which feature in every single frame. The finale, where Cotillard erupts into a fashion posing frenzy, is not only hilarious, it encapsulates what every woman loves to think fashion is all about.

The decision to relaunch the Seventies brand Halston in 2009 with an online fashion movie, directed by Nez Khammal, a director more famous for pop videos, also proved an important notch in the bedpost for the new film format.

Putting the model Dree Hemingway (the great-granddaughter of Ernest) in the same long maxi dress that contained the quintessential DNA of the Halston brand in every shot of the movie, while adding more commercial "best bits" of the collection around her, achieved potentially far more than a run-of-the-mill catwalk could.

So did the silly but feel-good film that showcased the one-shouldered Lanvin/H&M party frocks last November, directed by Mike Figgis.

Earlier this month, after 27 years showing international fashion shows globally, the Canadian institution Fashion TV, which famously brought the catwalk into many living rooms, closed down. Perhaps the end was imminent, given you can now see the latest Prada brand movie shot by Steven Meisel at your local supermarket.

artslife@thenational.ae

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