Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales project supports female directors and links fashion and feminism by means of expressive short films
The concept of Miu Miu’s “Women’s Tales” series is as simple as it is brilliant: short films with a focus on the latest fashion collection of the brand, made exclusively by women. That is by no means a given and a quick glance into film history shows why it is more than necessary – and about time – to support female directors.
Nine out of ten films in commercial cinema program are directed by men. When faced with this gender gap it is all the less surprising that Kathryn Bigelow was the only female director to take home an Oscar, in the 89-year history of the Academy Awards. In order to support the younger generation of female filmmakers and to put an emphasis on insufficiently well known women directors, Miuccia Prada’s brainchild “Women’s Tales” was launched in 2011.
After getting artistic powerhouses such as Miranda July, Ava DuVernay, Zoe Cassavetes, or even the french Nouvelle Vague icon Agnes Varda on board, they recently recruited the equally gifted Crystal Moselle, an emerging american director, who directed the twelfth edition of the series. Each and every one of the short films reveasl the individual creative signature of its director, while all of them have a highly aesthetic mise en scene in common. Their lighting, color composition and setting is reminiscent of Art House movies, rather than commercial motion pictures.
Miu Miu’s latest coup revolves around the girls of “The Skate Kitchen”, an all-girls skate crew from New York City, that Crystal Moselle first acquainted on the subway. “I am in love with the transformation stage in a girl’s life” Moselle explained In an interview. No wonder, then, That One Day captures a fictitious day in the life of Rachelle, a 17-year-old skateboarder. At the skate park she is alienated and ridiculed by the boys. As one of the guys trips her up, she falls down on the ground and loses consciousness. In a following dream sequence Rachelle befriends a group of girls who share her passion for skateboarding. She joins them and together they roam the urban surroundings, practice and party together.
“You see? There are other fishies like you in the sea” – “We’re all here together” – “We’re all here for you!” pledges on of her girlfriends. These teenage wisdoms are part of a deal with the topic of self discovery and belonging. And as it turns out, the personal search for identity is not a mere side effect of puberty, but is in fact relatable on an universal level. At the end of the day, who doesn’t long for understanding, kindness, and companionship?
The short film closes as Rachelle regains consciousness after her crash and heads back to the halfpipe to have another try. She takes a run up and aces all her tricks, while the iconic Rebel Girl by the feminist punk band Bikini Kill plays in the background. Perfectly in line with the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990’s and their motto “Revolution Girl Style Now!” the girls hold their ground in a male-dominated territory and confidently claim the asphalt. A final sequence that leaves the audience in awe and rewards us with a true sense of sorority.
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The 12-minute short reveals a uniquely feminine gaze, that is reminiscent of the oeuvre of female auteurs such as Chantal Akerman or Mia Hansen-Løve, as it focuses on the power of female experience. Moselle deliberately chose real life skater girls to embody Miu Miu’s feminine signature style. The playful outfits don’t dominate the scene, they rather back up the narrative: in the video, clothing seems ever-present, yet it always encourages the girls’ self-expression. As a spectator you can tell that these characters feel comfortable in their skin and in their clothes alike.
At this year’s Venice film festival the short film was highly acclaimed and presented a topic of thorough discussion. The director Crystal Moselle and the film’s sound composer Aska Matsumiya were invited for a talk, held at the Miu Miu Women’s Tales Panel. Both women had formerly worked together for The Wolfpack, a documentary about an unusual band of six brothers, that won the Grand Jury Prize at last year’s Sundance Festival. The panel was hosted by Penny Martin and as it turns out the witty and well-read Chief Editor of The Gentlewoman, proves to be just the right fit to lead the conversation.
As it turns out Moselle was given a carte blanche by Miu Miu, and as a true auteur she was involved in every aspect of the production. Her and Matsumiya collaborated closely to select just the right songs and soundscapes to accompany Rachelle’s emotional journey. Their entire conversation feels intimate as the points of discussion are so relatable, ranging from delicate topics such as dealing with sexual harassment and being the only woman in a male-dominated work space, to their creative process. Listening to these women describing their passion in such intricate detail is, in fact, inspiring.
So how why is it that women are still underrepresented in many fields of the arts as well as the business world? In the end it all traces back to equal opportunity for both men and women. As Moselle puts it: “It doesn’t matter whether you are a man or a women. But women need a voice. We are a minority” – suggesting that as a society we must help young boys and girls alike to develop a true passion. After all, anything can be a means self expression, whether it’s reading and writing, being into fashion and makeup, or skateboarding. An overall change in thinking might take decades, however, a single person’s perspective may change in the blink of an eye. As it turns out, all it takes is that one day.
Photos: Brigitte Lacombe
After spending a gap year in Paris, Jessica Aimufua set her heart on Berlin, starting her art history and cultural studies undergrad in 2012. As a keen observer and critical thinker she developed an urge to express herself inventively at an early age. In both English and German she writes about contemporary culture and modern aesthetics, with a focus on film, fashion and art . At hey woman! she writes, edits and translates.