The Uncanny Valley: Digging into Fashion Films

Fashion is with us anytime and everywhere. It goes far beyond brands. It defines other people’s perception on our way of life and creates multiple social codes just for wearing any type of clothing. So I will do my best to provide a basic description of what a Fashion Film is. It can be identified as a multimedia production that portraits a visual story in order to deliver a cinematic message by crafting aesthetical features associated with any given fashion house or designer. This might sound just like a commissioned video just for bold marketing and sales purposes, but there are differences between Fashion Advertising and Fashion Film. Although product placement strategy could be seen as obvious, there is a new creative window to creators for exploring this genre and to deliver at the same time breathtaking visual narratives with such a visual energy that transforms a pure visual spectacle into a cinematic experience of its own.

The fashion film world

In the past 20 years, graphic designers and photographers were among the first fashion films creators, thanks to professional exposure at the runaway and fashion weeks circuit. Nowadays, more film professional are turning their eyes of the artistic possibilities of fashion films. Many established filmmakers such Sofia Coppola, Wes Anderson, Wong Kar Wai just to name a few, have expanded their authorship style and have broken rules in art direction, editing, sound as well have stretched storytelling limits for the sake of delivering more than a concept. In the Fashion Film world the dramatic and documentary genres blend with each other with a free flow, it is such a wonderful place where experimental and minimalist perspectives speak a universal language that push the boundaries between art and entertainment.

The Uncanny Valley

In this serie of articles, the introductory pick I chose to start exploring Fashion Films is The Uncanny Valley a fine piece of filmmaking directed by the renown visual artist Philippa Price who has been professionally linked with established entertainment artists such Alicia Keys and Rihanna and  also a regular collaborator of Stella McCartney, one of the new global fashion icons. As part of McCartney’s editorial series on her collections, Philippa approached the project with a experimental angle. Having a contemporary surrealist background, Price’s film is loyal to the non linear narrative structure and provides no conventional story clues for the viewer. Visually resembles a colorful nightmare set in Clown Motel at Tonopah Nevada, a former mining town that was near an atomic test site in the 1940s. What a weird way to promote a fashion collection, but with a closer look, one could find visual and emotional connections with the two characters that wander around abandoned places in the desert, visiting an old cemetery, crashing cars and staring at the screen with a psychedelic look, all dressed up with vintage clothes and visually blending themselves into an apocalyptic canvas of creepiness and atomic fear. Visual and sound textures working for a concept.


This story was written by...
Alan McLane-Alejos

Alan is a film curator. Besides spending hours in front of any type of screen discovering great stories, he enjoys programming features for independent film festivals in USA and Mexico. He is also a keen supporter of cultural and social projects that involve multiple arts.