The deserted Old Selfridges Hotel is the perfect setting for the mega store’s Film Project, but this is not your average cinema encounter.
To celebrate the launch of the new Womens Designer Galleries at Selfridges, curator Emma Reeves has put together a score of incredibly beautiful films to represent the designers present. The experience starts from the moment you step through a back door, walk up a mirrored staircase to the sound of buzzing light-bulbs and into the desolate lobby and abandoned reception of the hotel. Adventure further into the dimly lit maze to find rooms obscured by white chiffon drapes, drifting in a non-existent breeze. If you catch sight of a pulsating red light you have 20 seconds to find a gap in the hangings for the start of that film. But pull aside a curtain and you might double-take wondering if you have by chance, walked head-first into Alice’s wonderland. Set designer Simon Costin gives a nod to the space’s former use by enlarging key objects, including a giant sofa in the Comme des Garçons clubroom, curiously tall white stools in McQueen’s vanity room and a colossal white rabbit inflated to reach ceiling height in Gareth Pugh’s playroom. The seven featured designers have collaborated with filmmakers to produce a short film, whether it’s Pugh in Liza Minnelli apparel or 97-year-old Madeleine Malraux tinkling the ivories with wizened, skilled fingers, each short is centred on the designer’s own interpretation of a strong woman. The films are projected either onto a vertical screen or the ceiling of a room overtaken by an oversized white bed. There’s no uncomfortable perching in this affair, so kick off your shoes, lay back, look up and take in this bespoke collection of fashion flicks.
i-D online spoke to curator Emma Reeves about about the project, fashion in film and authenticity.
What brief did you give the filmmakers? They were all asked to make a short film (they range from 2 – 7 minutes) that features and celebrates a woman or the idea of the kind of woman they design for. Not all of them chose a specific character – some were abstract notions of a woman – but others featured very real women such as Michelle Lamy in the Rick Owens film by Ruth Hogben and Madeleine Malraux in the film by Katerina Jebb for Comme des Garçons.
Do you consider them ‘fashion films’? These films are not necessarily fashion films as many do not feature ‘fashion’ at all. Currently there is a convention of what could be called ‘animated look books’ that people refer to as ‘fashion films’. None of these fall into that category. We made it clear to the designers that they really didn’t have to feature any fashion at all. And in that way the films become very timeless rather than anchored in a seasonal collection. I really like the credit at the end of the AF Vandevorst film that features an otherwise naked Delfine Bafort. It simply says Boots by AF Vandevorst. It’s great!
When you watch a fashion film or art based short film, what do you look for? What moves you? It is difficult to put into words what moves me during any type of experience I have. However in a world where so much is bogus I think I gravitate towards authenticity more than anything.
The Film Project at the Old Selfridges Hotel runs until the 25th March.
Text: Felicity Kinsella