The fashion industry walks (or catwalks, if you will) the fine line between art and commerce, producing one of life's basic necessities - the need to be clothed - with an intangible and ever-evolving set of rules that consumers crave yet don't quite comprehend. The fashion houses that create the designs, the magazines that hail or dethrone them and the photographers that turn clothes into brands have gotten their fair share of attention thanks to films like Bill Cunningham New York, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel and Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf's. It is the fervor to gaze ever deeper into the mysterious fashion world that led to the first Miami Fashion Film Festival taking place Sept. 12-15 at O Cinema in Miami.
Organized by Fashion Inspires More, established this year by Grace M. Castro to produce events that expand the fashion dialogue by focusing on the creative aspect of fashion, the festival's goal is to place fashion itself within the context of conceptual and visual art, highlighting the intersect in the creative processes.
The festival will screen four feature-length films, mainly documentaries; Material Success is a documentary about Italian designer Bruno Ierullo as he readies for his first runway show, a gamble using his life savings to get into the fashion industry after a personal tragedy inspires him to change careers. Don't feel too bad for Bruno, he's currently designing more kooky get ups for Lady Gaga.
Also featured is the documentary God Save My Shoes, an exploration of the feminine obsession with footwear where rich and famous women with enviable shoe collections expound on the virtues of killer heels and designers of said footwear explain the mysteries of their craft. Bonus: You get to watch Christian Louboutin's hands sketch a fresh design complete with a stripe of red on the sole.
The potluck of egos, characters and personalities that the fashion industry attracts is exposed in the documentary Bla Bla Bla, a satiric look at creative people who have a lot to say about fashion.
The festival's feature film Runways & Bunkbeds, written, directed, produced and starring Axel Harney, is based on the former international male model's own experiences during Italian show season.
The festival will also be screening more than 20 short films on Saturday at 9 p.m. The response to the open call for short films was overwhelming, says Castro. Included in this screening is a short by Karla Ruiz-Gomez and Miami fashion blogger (and Miami.com contributor) Annie Vazquez called Blogging: Behind the Seams, a look at Vazquez's own creative process as she uses carefully chosen and iconic locales in Miami to highlight her favorite fashions.
The festival will also feature several panel discussions. Fashionable Giving on Thursday evening focuses on the ways local organizations use fashion to give back to the community. There will be a screening of 'Girl Model,' a haunting documentary that exposes the trafficking of young rural Russian girls into the Japanese modeling industry. Renee Bhagwandeen, a former contestant on America's Next Top Model Season 20, will join a group of panelists to discuss the realities of the modeling industry with an audience of local young women.
O Cinema will also feature an exhibit of photographs by fashion photographer and Miami native via Colombia Nicolas Stipcianos.
Placing fashion within the spectrum of creative arts like film, Castro hopes to raise the curtain on an industry that is not just a purveyor of trends and products but also a viable outlet for creativity and art. "A lot of these documentaries help to show that these people are artists creating as much as an artist with a paintbrush on a canvas," says Castro.
"Hopefully people will begin to see fashion in a different light."
'Immortal Game: Fashion Cut' courtesy of Miami Fashion Film Festival