Act Da Fool (or: “throw down the booty and find god.”)

The fashion world has been doing a lot with moving images lately, alongside more traditional print campaigns, and designers are often using fashion films to establish mood and highlight key looks from their collections, hoping to connect with consumers who spend much of their time online. While some are gorgeous and visually arresting, I often find these films insipid. The models gaze dreamily at the camera or each other while indie-music-of-the-moment plays in the background, slow and quiet or fast and loud. I was intrigued, though, to hear that Harmony Korine had directed a fashion film for Proenza Schouler.

The film (Act Da Fool) is up on the Proenza Schouler site now, and I actually really liked it. I first typed enjoyed, but I took it back, because it’s not necessarily the kind of work one enjoys. But I spent the duration of the film fully engaged, which is mostly what I’m looking for in a film experience.

I think the problem I have with most fashion films is the lack of narrative. Sure they probably have some crazy inspiration point about a European princess from the middle ages who is magically transported to modern China, but unless the film can communicate to me that there’s something deeper going on, I’m really not interested. Act Da Fool is – refreshingly, thankfully –  full of narrative (so much narrative that there’s even narration). Shot with a group of young women Korine found by looking around Nashville for the “greatest living delinquents,” the film moves way beyond that surface place into an exploration of youth and girlhood and friendship and liquor and life and graffiti and philosophy and spirituality and parking lots. Every frame reveals another shard of story or character, and the fact that everything’s happening in fancy high fashion outfits creates this amazing tension. The site’s interviews with Korine and the Proenza Schouler designers are worth reading/watching. I hope more designers take this approach, creating works that serve as art in their own right, rather than merely pretty showcases for their outfits.

Also, if you’re smitten with the paint splattered pieces you’ll see in the film, here’s a DIY guide to making your own.

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