DIR/WRI: Frederic Tcheng • PRO: Guillaume de Roquemaurel • DOP: Gilles Piquard • ED: Julio Perez IV • MUS: Ha-Yang Kim • CAST: Raf Simons, Marion Cotillard, Anna Wintour
Fashion film is by its very nature tricky. Anyone who’s seen The Devil Wears Prada will know from editor Miranda Preistley’s ice-cold dressing down of would-be “serious journalist” Andy Sachs (Meryl Streep and Ann Hathaway in decidedly realistic representations of the magazine industry) that we are all in some ways victims of the fashion industry. From underpaid Asian factory workers to top-end designers, not to mention those of us who languish somewhere between, we all, if only occasionally, need to find something to wear.
The tricky nature of capturing fashion on film comes then not from our reluctance to embrace the industry – the majority of us do need to be clothed and so don’t have that particular luxury – but from the fact that the design, manufacture and modelling of clothes is, in and of itself, really bloody boring. What makes a good fashion film is not the garments we see but the combined force of fabulous money and (sometimes breathtakingly awful) personalities on which the industry appears to turn. Like The Devil Wears Prada, The September Issue was interesting not because working for magazines is fun and fabulous (it’s rarely either) but because the personalities that captain those ships – be they the fictional Priestley or the very real Anna Wintour and her occasionally surreal counterpoint Grace Coddington – appear to be the kind of people one does not encounter every day.
Dior and I should have been a dream addition to this genre. The film concentrates on the arrival of renowned Belgian designer Raf Simons at fashion house Christian Dior. The Dior label, founded in 1946, is considered to be one of the most influential of the twentieth century, home as it was to its eponymous founders “New Look” collection that came to define glamour after the second world war. More recently though, and in a way that has unpleasant echoes of that period, the label was mired in controversy when its Simons’ predecessor John Galliano found himself disgraced for making anti-semitic remarks in a Paris bar.
The dismissal of Galliano, a man considered a genius by those in the industry, was a crucial turning point for Dior and so it is decidedly odd that a film about the fashion house entirely neglects to mention it, preferring to concentrate on modern footage of Simons and archive footage of Christian Dior himself. Granted, both are interesting men with strong visions but in a time where anti-semitism is on the rise again it seems careless of the filmmakers not to mention how Simons came to inherit his current mantle. Perhaps it was a condition placed upon director Frederic Tcheng by the fashion house or perhaps Galliano himself refused to take part or allow his creations to. Either way, his non-presence leaves an all too visible blank space on this film.
Alisande Healy Orme
12A (See IFCO for details)
Dior and I is released 27th March 2015