Renowned for his films documenting all aspects of the fashion industry, Sydney filmmaker Anthony Lau knows a thing or two about the competitive world of designer fashion. For his latest project Lau was commissioned by the Woolmark Company to document the drama and tension of the lead-up to the final round of judging for the 2013 International Woolmark Prize.
Titled “Reaching the Mark,” Lau’s film follows the progress of the eight finalist designers as they prepare their collections for the London Fashion Week show, where the overall Woolmark Prize winner will be chosen. Lau not only documents the excitement of the competition but also visits the home town of each designer to gain a more personal insight into their background and history.
To find out more about his latest project, ARTINFO Australia got in touch with Anthony Lau and asked him a few questions about the film and his encounters with the Woolmark Prize finalists.
How did you approach the portrayal of the fashion designers in the film?
The initial focus for the film really had to be on capturing as true of a story as humanly possible for each designer.
We had 2 days with each finalist designer to be introduced, get to know, and shoot a hopefully accurate, rich and meaningful interview to represent their place in the documentary.
The difficult question was how does an individual unaccustomed to been propositioned in front of a camera open up to a film crew to talk about their past, their goals, their focus, and ambitions? It's essentially all the things you never really speak about or voice as a young creative (except perhaps to your shrink).
The approach was to try and breakdown all the very unique personalities of each designer, consider where they were in their personal pursuits, allow considerations for their geographic locations to craft a set of discussion points that tailored to all the individual finalists.
This process seemed to work well as an initial ice breaker with the designers. In the film it allowed us to jump back and forth from designer comment to another designer comment in the same context – which worked well to produce reactive programming.
What does the film reveal about the fashion designers you visited?
I think the film depicts the current chapter in each of the designer’s lives and their quest to realise the next chapter in their career of fashion design.
I think it’s a classic story of survival of the fittest.
In fashion, geography and commerce is marked as the strengths of the fashion industry.
This film gives a chance for a new day to begin where we all allow the future to be defined by a new generation of young hopefuls, not bound by geography or commerce.
Was there one characteristic or trait that every designer had in common?
A belief that there are no boundaries in what can be achieved.
I believe competing on a global level and seeing that competitors represented every corner of the world was a realization that anything is possible.
What was the most memorable experience from your travels to the designers' countries?
My crew would regularly have a bit of a chuckle at me because every day I would always look into the sky, and always look at my arms, and turn my hands under the sun and say “wow this light is incredible, this sunlight is so different to our last destination”...
Light seems to travel throughout the day so differently in all these countries. It was a true spectacle to draw contrast
And personally, I think it’s something you realize when you look to always light a scene naturally.
What was the most revealing aspect of your exploration of the fashion industry?
It really has to be how cultured and inspired fashion designers are today.
Most designers that I have met are incredibly in touch with world of today (and in every regard). Karl Lagerfeld's personal library is a good reference, his collection is just overwhelming.
Describe your experience with Dion Lee and what you learnt about him and his work?
Dion has remarkably defined a very considered understanding for his young brand.
I think Dion merges technical sophistication with fashion creativity on a level that is yet to be fully recognized.
I'm really excited to see him evolve his aesthetic with the ever changing face of fashion.
The film will premiere in Australia on 5 April 2013.
See the official trailer of the film below.