Fashion Television (RIP) was ahead of its time in several ways, and here is one of them: In 1985, when executive producer Jay Levine launched the program, he imagined it might become a channel for short narrative videos about clothing. Fashion films, now so inescapable a phenomenon, were then just a thought without a name: if music videos could revolutionize the way we consume pop, couldn’t a little cinematography do the same for clothing? The ’70s had seen then-living legends Guy Bourdin and Richard Avedon experiment with the moving image, and as film-recording cameras became less expensive, it seemed likely they’d land in the hands of younger, emerging lensmen. As MTV was to music videos, so might Fashion Television be to this new mode of image-making.
It didn’t happen that way, though. Fashion Television burgeoned worldwide, becoming the Jeanne Beker–led interview and news program we loved so long (it ended—to the joy of nobody—in April). Fashion film, meanwhile, lay dormant through two more decades, until bang: YouTube. The video-sharing site was launched early in 2005 and by the time Google acquired it in 2006 for $1.65 billion, it had given music videos a second life. For fashion videos, it was more like a first life. And what a life. In seven years we’ve watched them go from Nick Knight’s living room to the very halls of Versailles (with a stunning Inez and Vinoodh video for Christian Dior Fall 2012). The medium has its own online compendiums, university courses and festivals; a television channel wouldn’t be nearly enough.
“When a designer produces a piece of clothing, it is to be seen in movement,” Knight told Penny Martin, editor-in-chief of The Gentlewoman, in an interview for his site, Showstudio.com, which has become the self-declaimed home of fashion film. In 2005, though, he was rightly hesitant to call it that. He had begun the two-year project Moving Fashion, commissioning not only photographers (himself, Tim Walker, Peter Lindbergh) but also models (Lily Cole) and editors (Katie Grand) to shoot 30-second clips of clothing in kinesis. “With the advent of the internet, the garment can now be shown in the way it was intended,” he said. “What I’m asking people to do is to express fashion in movement. It’s subtly different from asking someone to make a film.”
Join the discussion
Neither the author nor FASHION Magazine necessarily agrees with the comments posted here. Editors will not correct spelling or grammar. FASHION Magazine reserves the right to edit or delete comments entirely.
Brand New on Fashion
- Kate Middleton (and royal baby bump) shine in yellow Emilia Wickstead at the Queen’s garden party
- What to wear to a wedding: 5 street style-inspired outfits and tips for every summer occasion
- J.Crew Vancouver: Go inside the Pacific Centre’s new women’s-only location
- Jessica Chastain vs. Milla Jovovich: Who wore it best on the Cleopatra red carpet at Cannes?
- Joe Fresh Fall 2013 look book: 38 items that are just as stylish as they are covetable