Introverted bedroom house isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Tokyo. But for Kinuko Hiramatsu, who first put her Casio on tape as Sapphire Slows in 2011, the city is an inspiration. The 24-year-old singer and producer honed her craft within one of its dizzying number of individual scenes, hers a community of DIY producers loosely tied to the Cuz Me Pain label. Working with a simple setup of keyboards and laptop technology, Hiramatsu crafts minimal dance tracks with a hard, glassy energy. Over a foundation of chill yet steadily building house beats, layers of overlapping textures and whispery vocals create drama that still maintains a sense of intimacy, all overlaid with a filter of psychedelic echo. A little internet outreach landed the self-taught musician a spot on one of her favorite labels: Not Not Fun Records, home to SSENSE favorite Maria Minerva, whose hazy digital house sound is an apt comparison. Allegoria, Hiramatsu’s first full-length release, just came out this November. It’s exactly the kind of album you’d want in your headphones as you walk through a cityscape full of skyscrapers, wondering how many people behind each lit window are secretly making beats.
Sapphire Slows’ mix spans a cinematic range of genres from minimal house to industrial, with tracks from Soft Riot, Youth Code, and Laurel Halo.
Idea Fire Company Open Sesame
Moebius & Plank Echaos
Softriot I Wanna Lay Down NXT 2 U
Private Realm An Omen From No Man's Land
Second Decay The Machine
Food Pyramid Marsh Bar
Interplanetary Prophets Zero Hour
Omar.S It Can Be Done, But Only I Can Do It
Poisonous Relationship Nite Birds (Massacooramaan Remix)
Youth Code Let the Sky Burn
Miles Status Narcissism
Laurel Halo Sunlight on the Faded
Nobody wears a towering veil, cat-eye sunglasses, and a sweeping mass of black skirts every day unless they have a genuine commitment to the aesthetic. A dramatic look adhered to with such devotion becomes a symbol of allegiance: a moment-to-moment reminder of the wearer's loyalty to creativity and expression. Few people embody these qualities like Diane Pernet. Her unflagging enthusiasm for the fantasy of fashion has expressed itself in a long career as designer, critic, curator, and journalist, but most notably in a commitment to emerging platforms for expression. Pernet helped usher in the era of the fashion blogger with her cult blog A Shaded View on Fashion (history will remember her as the first journalist to file a show report from her phone) and has been one of the most notable supporters of another emerging genre: fashion film. Pernet’s annual festival, A Shaded View on Fashion Film, is dedicated to exploring the possibilities of what it means to put clothing on camera. Now in its sixth year, its program features works from established image-makers like Larry Clark and Bruce Weber to rising talents Serge Lutens and Daniel Trese. We spoke to the globetrotting Pernet about the significance and impact of fashion film and how it’s changing the way we look at clothes.
I think the “fashion film” was born out of a real need to breathe life into the old static medium of photography and set fashion in motion through the magic of cinema. What ASVOFF does is to give people in the industry – and talented outsiders – a platform to let this genre flourish. Hopefully, by rewarding excellence in the field, it also keeps inciting them to push boundaries, too. I want to be able to offer a strong platform for designers, artists, and filmmakers to exchange ideas; to have spontaneous dialogues and experiment on projects together. In particular, I want to be able to provide a place where the “establishment" and the "young emerging talent" in fashion, film, and art can meet and hopefully turn at least a few sublime dreams into reality.
“Fashion film” is a vibrant and still relatively new applied art form that has huge potential. It can also be a bona fide art form of its own accord, unlocking new creative energies to communicate fashion with the power of cinema and persuade consumers to tap into a brand. Fashion film is a film where fashion is the protagonist, or at least one of the main protagonists, rather than just a prop or a “supporting role.” Fashion is a high-impact, fleeting concept by its very nature, so usually they are short films. Certainly for my festival we focus mainly on fashion films that are between 30 seconds and five minutes long, but there are cases where they are longer. And you could argue, from another perspective, that a few feature films and documentaries over the course of cinematic history have also served as long fashion films.
A video, no matter how short, can sometimes not have as much instant impact as a photograph because a photograph is, by nature, a single moment in time frozen and captured without the context of time. So there is a certain framework within which photography will, also, always have this ability to take people's breath away. But with fashion film, I'm trying to push people experimenting with the genre to do the same thing.
Nick Knight has been a pioneer in fashion as a moving image. The emergence of his site was seen as a landmark moment for the medium of fashion film. SHOWstudio is about experimentation and the process. However, as I understand it, Nick rejects the idea of storytelling and does not think that is necessary to make a good fashion film. So we do not agree on all points. He is an extraordinarily talented and visionary man.
I don’t see it as one medium replacing the other. That is a knee-jerk response to the emergence of a new medium. Television didn't kill radio and the Internet didn't kill TV. Neither did photography kill painting. But having said that, truly moving and touching fashion films can be a way to engage with people on a level that is less commercial and nobler than a lot of contemporary fashion photography. One reason for that is simply because we are still experimenting, so that formats are not yet fully formulated and the industries are still working out how to monetize fashion film. So there is room for a little more creativity without so much emphasis on the bottom line. Sometimes fashion films can even be a genuine work of art. I don’t fool myself into thinking that fashion film is going to touch everyone everywhere, but I do believe that there is a place for it to have mass appeal and, at least, for a few special fashion films to inspire a lot of people. What I can also say is that fashion and film have long been connected and interdependent in many ways, so, consequently, “fashion film” will certainly help both of these industries evolve into an even closer and more fascinating relationship in the very near future. I also believe that somehow, that elusive space between advertising, branding, and art makes a pretty interesting space for fashion film in the future.
Photography: Hassan Havier
Photography: Miguel Villalobos