Directing duo Leila and Damien De Blinkk have a Kino-eye for intellectual, creative advertising. A shirt, a skirt, a pair of shorts, a pair of trousers and a coat. That’s what they had to work with. This is what they made of it…
Leila and Damien De Blinkk are a photographic/ filmmaking two-person collective who met whilst studying at the Royal College of Art. Working together on fashion editorial and advertising, the pair were hired with ’de Blinkk’ of an eye by French Connection to direct their Autumn/ Winter campaign. The series of shorts, some of which are shown here, assign cinematic personalities to particular articles of clothing; the suit, the dress, the skirt and so on, with minds and voices of their own. And how refreshing it is, to observe a piece of advertising that doesn’t reduce its audience to a mindless consumer! This much swag hasn’t been displayed in advertising since Mad Men’s Don Draper. i-D online sat down with the pair of De Blinkks to discuss their new campaign for French Connection and their connection to film.
There are definitely different moods for different clothes. Was it your choice to make, say a blouse seem romantic, and a suit badass? Would you call the different articles of clothing protagonists? The moods came from this search for the essence specific to each article of clothing that would become a kind of subtle, living incarnation of it. We looked for the feminine and masculine qualities of each piece, for its relationship to our skin, to our emotions, expectations and projections of ourselves. The moods presented themselves as we defined the promise that each piece of clothing offered us.
There’s an interesting narrative/poetry to these shorts, did you have a story in mind when you shot them? The clothes were the starting point to each film. We were looking into the personality of each item of clothing, its reason for being, but it was an essence we were after. The process for example, included a voice for each item of clothing and words that drove the visual interpretation of the script. Then the voice became something else in some of the films. It became an image like the suit emerging from semi darkness or a certain tonality in the music or in the sound. In other films the voice and the words remained.
What is the desired effect with the film shorts? We never think in ‘buy this’ terms. We think in terms of expressing an idea in a certain way that we hope is “en dehors des chemins battus” (out of the usual roads). If it works, a connection will happen, a trace will stay.
Did one article of clothing stand out as particularly more exciting to film? The idea was to work on two main films with two main items of clothing and a series of shorter films for the others. The Suit and The Party Dress were chosen for the two main films on the basis of the ideas and qualities they carried, but the other films gained more importance as we set out making them. Their lighter and shorter structures gave us room to play. The shot list was specific to each film but with a license to borrow from each other. That made them a bit like accomplices while remaining individual and different from each other.
There seems to be a plethora of influences that vary in genre: magical realism, subliminal advertising… Is there a specific area that you drew your inspiration from? There is no specific area or genre behind these films, or at least not consciously so. We wanted to stay away from any specific genre, but we do like to maintain a cinematic feel and it’s great if that comes across.
Is there one filmmaker that you especially admire? The list is too long, we can’t reduce it to one! But if we had to choose an era in cinema that we particularly admire it would be the sixties and early seventies.
What are you working on next? A TV commercial with Mother London.
Text: Lily Avnet