Every March, Melbourne becomes a hub of both the “food and wine” and the “fashion” universes, with visitors and locals alike bustling about the city in search of their next festival appointment.
Pedestrian collisions between gourmets and fashionistas are regrettably not common enough, perhaps owing to the fact that just as one festival finishes the other begins. Yet the overburdened schedules of the hipster community in the middle of March result in many a well-fed and well-groomed person standing overwhelmed on Swanston Street. Happy sight indeed. With any luck, these unfortunate few will follow the line of cinephiles heading to Federation Square for Deeper in Vogue: Fashion on Film, a program of recent fashion documentaries screening at ACMI throughout March as part of the 2013 L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival (LMFF).
In the last few years, following the success of R J Cutler 2009 film The September Issue, the genre of fashion documentary has risen markedly in the mainstream consciousness. This popularity has, in turn, been met with a wave of productivity and investment, to the extent that the film landscape is now awash with high-calibre documentaries each striving to author a new understanding of “fashion”. The most appealing aspect of the four films screening in the current program at ACMI is their common emphasis on idiosyncratic voices. According to James Nolen, film programmer at ACMI and curator of Deeper in Vogue, these are films in which “singular characters” are given pride of place.
In the 2011 documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, the viewer is introduced to a character unlike any other. Vreeland guided the fashion world through the giddy cultural revolutions of the mid-twentieth century whilst serving as a columnist and fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar and later editor-in-chief of Vogue, propagating elegance and genuine eccentricity wherever she went. It is nigh on impossible to come away from this documentary without grabbing on to one of the limitless maxims she seemed to announce with abandon. One such recorded quip: “Style—all who have it share one thing: originality.”
Such curious characters abound in ACMI’s latest program of fashion documentaries. In God Save My Shoes (2011), celebrities, designers and diehard shoe addicts speak with alternating fastidiousness and fervour-verging-on-ecstasy about their appreciation of footwear. First and foremost, this film highlights the ridiculous extremes to which an addiction (however harmless) may carry us. Yet, more than this, the film serves to highlight the architectural complexity and intellectual experimentation that goes into designing shoes at the upper echelons. “Upper” being the pertinent word. Vertigo sufferers beware: this film features very high heels.
Accompanying each of the four international documentaries screening as part of Deeper in Vogue is a short locally-produced fashion documentary from the finalists of the inaugural LMFF Fashion Film Series competition. This juxtaposition of international and local documentaries marries nicely with the nature of the LMFF; the new competition also increases the accessibility of the fashion festival, serving to champion both emerging filmmakers and Australian fashion designers in one fell swoop. Beyond the engaging narratives of the documentaries, one of the principal merits of ACMI’s fashion film program is its accessibility, allowing Melbourne’s fashion and film enthusiasts to happily participate in the L'Oréal Melbourne Fashion Festival without necessarily knowing the right people or advancing a chunk of cash.
Moreover, since the film program runs throughout March, it generates the perfect conditions for an increase in awkward interactions between gourmets and fashionistas (prior to the conclusion of the Food and Wine Festival on March 17). Maybe a scuffle or two at Federation Square – baguette versus stiletto? Budding filmmakers, watch that space.
Deeper in Vogue shows at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Federation Square, from March 8 to 13.
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel 2011. Source & Courtesy: Madman Entertainment
God Save My Shoes 2011. Source & Courtesy: All Rights Entertainment, Hong Kong