It’s been said that a picture’s worth a thousand words. A photograph is worth at least that much, as good photojournalism demonstrates. Fashion photography, similarly, is often used as a storytelling medium in which intriguing locations and evocative poses are substituted for verbal dialogue and textual descriptions. But many fashion designers are now broadening their horizons when it comes to advertising their collections. The use of “fashion films” is becoming increasingly common, and in their extended visual imagery, most of these films are rather successful at selling the creative vision of the designer.

One of my recent favorites is Rodarte’s “The Curve of Forgotten Things,” featuring young actress Elle Fanning as the main character (model?). Filmed for the Rodarte spring 2011 collection, it “drew inspiration from 1970s northern California, referencing Redwood forests, the gold rush and Asian influences”:

Through its moody music, vague storyline, and consistent sepia imagery, “The Curve of Forgotten Things” almost makes the viewer forget that it’s not just a beautifully shot short film. Incidentally, the Mulleavy sisters behind Rodarte were two of the costume designers for Black Swan.

Here’s another fashion film courtesy of Rodarte, which highlights a special 4-piece collection the label did for UNICEF:

The cinematic influence is especially strong in this one, as “each piece is inspired by Maggie Cheung and references one of her films: In the Mood for Love, Hero, Clean, and Heroic Trio.”

Now fashion films are by no means limited to fashion collections. Perfume commercials, for example, are becoming more and more popular. It’s hard to watch a TV show these days without seeing Charlize Theron purr “J’adore…Dior” at least once, but as most perfume commercials are done entertainingly enough, I don’t really mind watching them. Here’s a personal favorite Sofia Coppola directed for Miss Dior Cherie:

Yes, that’s right—directors are getting in on the action, too. For further proof, check out the following ad Martin Scorsese did for Chanel:

A rock & roll score, a press conference, and a literal metaphor for “thinking outside the box”: to fit all that into one coherent minute is no small feat. I salute you, Mr. Scorsese.

It’s always interesting to see the artistic results of creative collaborations, and given the renewed friendship between fashion and film, we’re likely to see many more intriguing projects emerge. For now, I’m more or less content with the minute-long diversions we’ve got that take us from the minds of renowned film directors into the hearts of historic fashion houses.

For an in-depth analysis of the fashion film, read Portable’s article here.

Got a fashion film you want to recommend? Share below!

Header Image Credit: NOWNESS