Only a number of days before the Coronavirus shutdown, we were lucky enough to preview our latest collection, AW 20 ‘Slow’, with VAMFF Offsite Runways. To celebrate this presentation, we had the talented Olivia Miletta direct a short film to capture the spirit and eccentricity of the show. Titled Refraktion, the film is centred around the cast of models from the runway as we explore their connections to self. This is a topic of interest for Miletta, who says of the film: “Fashion is a form of self-expression as much as self-expression gives form to fashion. But when meeting a brand-new collection in runway format, why are viewers often deprived of meeting the wearers of that collection?”
We are also so excited to announce that the film has been shortlisted for the LA Fashion Festival’s “Emerging” category!
Read on to find out more about Olivia’s creative process, her interest in fashion as a subject for her work and Ema’s comments about the latest collection.
What is your experience filming for fashion shows and why does it interest you?
I’ve always been drawn to fashion as a cultural phenomenon; a vehicle to communicate with the world. It plays a huge part in how I express myself. Given my deep love for styling and fashion, it felt it a natural extension to start making fashion films. I’ve been working as a graphic designer and photographer for 5 years and I’m relatively new to the film world, making films as a freelancer for just over a year now, and I’ve gotten to make a mix of campaign films and fashion show films.
I keep being drawn back to fashion I think because I’ve always had such positive experiences working alongside designers. Ema is particularly great to work with because she’s always open to throw around conceptual ideas. In our initial meetings discussing the brief for ‘refraction’, we both agreed on a strong idea, which all started from the core concept for the AW20 collection.
Tell us a little about your filming process? Does it flow naturally or is it structured?
It’s really important for me to strike a balance between being organised without inhibiting a creative flow when shooting, that way I have a sense of what I’m doing and don’t miss the organic moments that often make a film.
For the ‘Refraktion’ film I watched a lot of old Vivienne Westwood runways, I freakin’ love her ‘Punkature’ SS83 runway, the handy-cam style of shooting, music choices, and the overall non-traditional format heavily inspired the film. During the shoot, I honestly felt like my camera, affectionately known as ‘Marnie’, was an extension of myself, rather than a piece of equipment, we were working as a team serendipitously.
The film is decorated with light refractions throughout, what drew you to this visual effect?
That’s a great question! I’ve been experimenting with creating refraction using crystals ever since I started shooting and love how they take light in such a unique way, creating a very organic feeling effect. I think I’ve always been a bit obsessed with lens flare and rainbows created by light refraction.
However, like anything, I want to make sure the visual effect is used with intent and purpose and not just because it ‘looks cool’. In the case of ‘Refraktion’, Ema and I wanted the film to have a nostalgic aesthetic, and to conceptually communicate the multifaceted local creative community.
Why HEW? What is the connection to our brand?
Ema and I met at the Sydney Big Design Markets in 2018 and I was really drawn to the vibrant prints and ethical focus of Ema’s work. One thing led to another and Ema agreed to get me on board to create a fashion film for her for her AW19 collection.
Ema has a brilliant skill in collaborating and giving everyone a voice on set, I’ve always felt empowered to give my creative best and I think that’s why we’ve continued to work so well together. This extends into her collaborative philosophy of using local artist’s prints in the fabric of her garments; I’ve always been really drawn to them. I’ve been able to make 3 fashion films for Ema so far and hope to continue to make heaps more!
What is this latest collection about?
AW20 ‘Slow’ has a focus on keeping the process and production local and small. I designed this collection prior to the Coronavirus pandemic; however, the ‘slow’ concept has now become so fitting for the current circumstances. I think this time of social distancing has forced us to slow down and focus on what is more important, such as health, family etc.
Last year I moved my business three times, which was both financially and physically taxing, and resulted in less funds to invest in the winter collection. I had to strip back and invest in a much smaller range featuring some winter essentials. These essential pieces were designed to be of the highest quality as I presumed consumers were seeking something that would last as they continue with a ‘buy less’ approach.
How does it differ from former collections?
At Hew, our point of difference is our prints. For every collection we collaborate with an artist to create a range of exclusive prints. When the prints for AW20 came back from the printers, I decided they would be best suited for summer. Thus, this collection is print free but the colours I sourced are very special. The green moss wool especially is the perfect shade of green and can be easily paired back with all the merino wool skivvies.
I also played with versatility in the ‘Slow’ range by workshopping a dress to be worn several ways. I want to ignite the creativity within my customers, empowering them to explore new looks with existing pieces.
What is the most important thing for an audience member to take away from this HEW fashion show?
Every show has a different focus and this year it was about keeping it local. I chose the Brunswick street backdrop for a Melbourne feel and featured models from the community to show a range of different styles/looks. My aim was to give a sense of freedom of self-expression. Oli and I chose the line ‘I feel myself when…’ in the film to provoke a deeper response of how people express their identity through fashion.
The runway has always been my favourite medium to exhibit the clothing, because you can create hype around the product and really build an atmosphere.