Marco Brambilla’s Fantastical Film for BOSS

For the second installment of the ongoing film series THIS IS BOSS, Jason Wu commissioned video artist Marco Brambilla, who merged his own interests in architecture and geometric design with the sleek and modern qualities of Wu’s garments.

by i-D Team
08 September 2014, 5:40pm

Images courtesy Marco Brambilla and Hugo Boss

Donning a floor length, white silk dress, model Suvi Koponen eerily pirouettes as replicated images of herself begin to fill the surrounding forest. Illuminated only by synthetic LED lights, Koponen's movements in combination with those of a motion-controlled camera, mimic the tones of Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty. In this short art film, Koponen enigmatically represents Hugo Boss and its spring/summer 2015 collection designed by womenswear artistic director Jason Wu.

"The idea of fashion and film has become this form that seems to have a formula," Marco Brambilla begins. "This was an opportunity for me to make something that subverts the conventions of a fashion film."

Brambilla has been showing work internationally since the 90s and premiered films at Sundance and Cannes Film Festival, becoming known for his recontextualization of found and popular imagery. Last year he created a large-scale installation for the opening of Hugo Boss's flagship store, but prior to working with the brand the artist also worked with Ferrari and created a one-minute video for Kanye West's Power. Before Brambilla's film is screened during the Hugo Boss spring/summer 2015 runway show this Wednesday, we spoke with the artist about the month-long project and his inspirations.

How do you think collaborations reflect your personal work?
Collaborations are successful if there is common ground to begin with in terms of sensibility. With this project there was complete creative freedom. I know the brand and they knew I was making something consistent with their aesthetic. Some work I've made has a colourful and baroque feeling, but some is much more formal depending on the subject matter. This combines a little bit of both.

Do you think the common ground for this was the architecturally based aesthetic?
That's a big part of it. Jason brings this geometric and architectural aesthetic. It combines technology and nature, which is something I've been interested in in my previous work. It was a very organic situation. There wasn't a lot of conversation back and forth.

Why did you choose Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty for the soundtrack?
I usually start with music, even in previous works I've made. Visuals are inspired by the theatricality or tone of the music, and this waltz suggested this continuous orbiting camera. I built the set of a forest within the real forest, and then I interfered using LED lighting, which made it removed from nature. I re-recorded the music and added a lot of synth. We sampled certain phrases and distorted it in a way that's a bit more twisted, a bit more of a catastrophe. Music was a part of the piece itself. It wasn't an after thought or thought of as a score.

What is a struggle you faced during this process?
It was complex just putting the shoot together. The technical setup of shooting in a forest with motion control and computer control lighting and the possibility of an electrical storm the day of the shoot. Originally I was going to shoot on stage, but we got more production value by shooting on location. That opened up a lot of challenges in terms of controlling the environment. A lot of improvisation had to take place. 

Where do you draw your inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from this idea of reconfiguring and recombining elements you have seen before, but into something unexpected. In some ways, this is a re-processing of fashion, aesthetics and beauty. I hope when people see it they understand that the model is being fragmented into a hundred pieces and it accelerates in a way that's quite chaotic. It's not just visual. It's underscoring the chaos and confines of the acceleration of life and her psychology within. 

Now that this is finished, what's in the pipeline?
There are two projects. Firstly, in the next couple weeks I'm installing a video installation that deals with looking at Central Park from a manmade perspective in the One57 building, which is the tallest building on Central Park. I'm also shooting a project with NASA at Cape Canaveral in Florida and I plan to shoot until about November. The piece is going to show early next year. 

What draws you toward all of these collaborations?
My fine art and personal practice is my main focus, but I like doing a couple [collaborations] every year. If the right opportunity presents itself, it's a good way to experiment with new technology, with new ways of telling a simple visual story. The processes are similar in terms of production, even though some of the concepts are quite different. I don't do commercial work anymore and these commissions are very specific. They don't feature products. They don't function as commercials. That's an important line and as long as I stay on the right side of that line, then it's very consistent with my practice.


Text Emily McDermott
Images courtesy Marco Brambilla and Hugo Boss

Hugo Boss
Jason Wu
fashion interviews
Marco Brambilla