The curtain dropped on Sunday night in Paris over what was another wonderful edition of A SHADED VIEW ON FASHION FILM, and in the eyes of many attendees, the very best one yet. The ASVOFF festival, founded and curated by fashion icon and muse Diane Pernet, turns eight in 2015: gathered at the Centre Pompidou’s Grande Salle to celebrate the event were the fortunate fans who were first in the queue to reserve a ticket, together with prominent industry figures who’ve rarely been known to take a break from their schedules. Such as renowned milliner Stephen Jones, ASVOFF jury member, who fondly recalled having worked with Jean Paul Gaultier, this year’s passionate president, some 31 years ago. There were the filmmakers, both illustrious and newcomers, performers, experts and insiders that over the previous five days had generously shared their best work, talent and wisdom with the ASVOFF audience, alongside the likes of, among others, prized designer Iris van Herpen, costume director of the NYC Ballet Marc Happel, and Shaway Yeh, editorial director of Modern Weekly in China. With fashion films gaining momentum in her home country, Yeh had presented on Friday her own exceptional selection, highlighting the international influence, and following, that ASVOFF has nurtured over its first eight years.
Universally recognised as the world’s leading fashion film festival, ASVOFF continues to grow: a rich series of documentaries including a special Arte cycle, thematic masterclasses and conferences interspersed the screening of 80 short films in competition this time. Before a concert of singer-songwriter Loane, with the surprise guest appearance of Christophe, Jean Paul Gaultier and his jury awarded the finest submissions with ASVOFF’s shiny new trophies, designed by artist Miguel Villalobos, at the cloture ceremony on Sunday night. That the choice of the winners might have not been easy reflects a medium that graduated from promising to state-of-the-art, and the yet unexplored directions it might be heading to. A special mentions and nine prizes were given in total, one of these a Shu Uemura suitcase for the Beauty Prize winner, make-up artist Masaji Tanimori in The Independents by Leslie Kee for Yohji Yamamoto. An unsuspecting Justin Ambrosino brought home the coveted ASVOFF8 Grand Prix, for his moving, tender and toothsome Hungry for Love.
“This is like going into a new world, I really owe Diane so much. I’ve met tons of wonderful people and felt very welcomed, and just by being here at the festival and watching films, new ideas have come to me. On how to integrate fashion in a not too direct way, in a subtle way, but to also tell an engaging story, because it’s always important to keep the audience excited. I think it’s very smart, and I would like to see more fashion films done this way” said Ambrosino. “My film was originally targeted towards foodies, and maybe some social-issues audiences because it deals with weight, but for it to be embraced in the fashion world, and by winning this award for it to become almost fashion-forward, it really means a lot”. As Gaultier vowed in his announcement, fashion is indeed about everything in life.
Brando de Sica, who was back for his sophomore year at the festival after winning the Best Advertising award at ASVOFF7, was no less thrilled when his film Non Senza Di Me won protagonist Max Tortora the Best Actor prize. “I am so grateful to Diane because she’s been the first to really believe in me, and thanks to my winning an award here last year a lot of doors have opened for me. It really helped a lot with launching my career, we even went to Cannes with that film. I come from a short film background, more in cinema than in fashion, so I was totally new to this world and didn’t know it well, but after my film won I was asked to make more of them, and I’m still getting more offers. So you see, Diane is my good luck charm, my godmother. And to be in this competition for the second year in a row, and to win a prize for the second time, leaves me speechless. I feel so fulfilled, I still can’t believe it. I hope in the future to make more films that will be good enough to participate again”. He mused, “it’s great because today a lot of brands want to experiment with the language of cinema, and a fashion film can have a narrative thread, like the Carosello in Italy used to do once. And I believe that for every young filmmaker this is a fantastic opportunity to realise their own stories”.
Best Advertising was won this year by Peep Shoe for 3.1 Phillip Lim, a film by Lernert & Sander. A recurring award-winning feature at the festival throughout the years, the Dutch duo was granted on Saturday an exclusive retrospective space on the festival calendar. “It’s a very nice initiative to give fashion film a platform, you feel like it’s taken very seriously but not in a dry way or in a smothering way, else we wouldn’t have been here in many occasions. But you feel like it’s taken seriously, in the right way” they quipped.
Another endorsing speech was given by legendary French artist Orlan, who introduced the festival on the opening night. In her words, “from the very beginning, ASVOFF had the vocation to consider fashion as a culture before an industry, one that most of us can’t deny we belong to, which helps us to define our identity, to enhance our singularities, to express our sensibilities and our commitments”. Other programme highlights were a performance by Chicks on Speed in collaboration with Manish Arora, and focused sessions on soundtracks, with musician Nicolas Godin and director Nicolas Saada, and decorative arts with Paris-based Hungarian artist Mathias Kiss. A focused conference on the history of the artist’s mannequin as a substitute for live models saw Jerôme Godeau, co-curator of the Mannequin d’artiste, Mannequin fétiche exhibition at the Musée Bourdelle, in an in-depth and sometimes spooky conversation with Marco de Rivera.
Senior fashion writer Colin McDowell, a recipient of the WGSN Global Fashion Award for 2015 and mentor for the young designers participating in the International Woolmark Prize held an entertaining masterclass around the saga of ASVOFF main sponsor this year, from the time when Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent both took home the prize, and made their first public appearance, in 1954. “It’s a great thrill for me personally, as part of the Woolmark, to be involved with Diane. I’ve known her for years and I think this initiative that she’s got for film is really exciting and I know at the beginning it was very very tough, but she believed in it, and she went ahead with it”, were McDowell’s words of praise.
More familiar names in the ASVOFF8 jury will be Harold Koda, lead curator of The Costume Institute at New York’s MET Museum, Pascal Mourier, Fashion Editor-in-Chief at France 24, and world-famous photographer and publisher Rankin. Among the films that screened at the festival, too, were trusted filmmakers and brands – Gregg Araki for Kenzo, Marie Schuller for Carhartt and SHOWstudio, Matt Lambert for Marc By Marc Jacobs, Bart Hess for Walter Van Beirendonck, Ellen Von Unwerth for Die Zeit Magazin, Atelier Impopulaire for Dries Van Noten, Kathryn Ferguson & Alexander Turvey for Selfridges and AlexandLiane for Bernhard Willhelm to name but a few.
Here is the complete list of ASVOFF8 winning films:
ASVOFF GRAND PRIX 2015
Hungry for Love by Justin Ambrosino
BEST ART DIRECTION
Kitchen by Tim Yip
Max Tortora in Non Senza di Me by Brando DeSica
Advanced Style by Lina Piloplyte with Ari Seth Cohen for NOWNESS
BEST SOUND DESIGN
Gianluca Andreucci (J-E-A-N) for Wonder Mark by Ivan Olita
BEAUTY PRIZE awarded by She Uemura
Team Leslie Kee for The Independents by Leslie Kee for Yohji Yamamoto
Peep Shoe by Lernert & Sander for 3.1 Phillip Lim
BEST EMERGING TALENT
Under by Kevin Frilet
JO! by Septa Absharin Husna for Siqi Wu
The Rule by Sara Laurena
and a Special Mention for actress Benedetta Barzini, in Spirit of Our Time by Livia Alcalde for Tom Rebl.