designers worstok made a film in the salton sea
Director Nathalie Canguilhem took the duo deep into the California desert to film the eerie exploration of self.
Priests with whiskey addictions, spooky houses, the poetry of E.E. Cummings – confession and musing are woven throughout Worstok’s spring/summer 19 film, which follows a group of friends as they reflect on their upbringings and childhoods. The design duo (David Friend and Rudy Grazziani) have consistently followed natural artistic inclinations to intertwine personal narrative and interests throughout their design world. With their first film, showcasing their spring/summer 19 DOSQUEBRADOS collection, the duo have ventured into another dimension of the Worstok universe, in collaboration with Nathalie Canguilhem, who has long worked with iconic artists and fashion houses such as Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nick Knight, and Yves Saint Laurent.
Working with people they know personally to glean parts of their story – a cast of characters assembled to reflect a dimension of the Worstok world – the boys wear the collection like a second skin as we see them wander the desert, captured in moments of raw exploration. The film steps outside of usual fashion parameters, with a sense of eeriness and beauty pulsing just beneath the surface. Through their collaboration, Friend, Grazziani, and Canguilhem, have created something like a stream of conscious daydream, a spoken word poem in four parts. Here we exclusively premiere the film and speak with David and Rudy about the creative process behind it.
Based on your Instagram stories, you guys have been everywhere. It’s been difficult for me to keep track of your locations. You’re finally both in L.A?
David: I’ve been back for like a week. I came from Florida.
Rudy: And I was in Milan for a month, I just came back two days ago.
And the film was not set in either of those locations?
D: No, it was filmed in different parts of California. The desert in California – the Salton Sea – and then there was the Lancaster area and Malibu.
R: We walked around a lot trying to find remote places that were interesting to us visually.
How did the idea for this project come about?
D: Honestly, when I was 16 or 17, Nathalie [Canguilhem] told me that if I made a clothing brand she would make the video and because she’s the realest, she came through. She messaged me about doing the video and we started messaging back and forth, For the most part, I was pretty amazed. It seemed like Nathalie knew exactly what she wanted when we met up. She already put thought into this video and put in tons of work.
R: I feel like she really understands the brand. Whatever was put together for this video really matched the image of the brand, which was really interesting. I found it exciting that the things she was coming up with, the places we used, and the kids we used all really seemed to match the aesthetic and our identity as a brand. It seemed really raw and real and it seemed like that’s what she was after and that’s obviously what we are interested in. It was nice to go out there and see what we could get.
It does feel very organic as well. What do each of you feel you brought to the film?
D: We did all the casting and obviously we made the clothes, we did location scouting. I also acted in it. I played a character and everything I’m saying is real. It’s not a script, she was interviewing me at like 3AM at a Checkers in downtown L.A. after we’d been shooting for three days and I was super tired. It’s kind of like everything I wanted - almost the sense of really excited and really bored all at the same time.
R: I would say that David and I are both interested in some of what the video captures - like the sense of curiosity and exploring, wonder and rawness. The video has a little bit of destruction involved, and weird settings and environments. I think that we’re both drawn to this sort of aggressive and beautiful position of visual imagery. The three of us together were on the hunt to find that with what we had to work with.
When it came to Nathalie do you feel she was able to bring out anything in you that maybe another director wouldn’t have?
D: One hundred percent. I personally believe just working with her, she really gets young people. She also does all these amazing sets and genuinely enjoys doing a huge favor of working with younger artists that have less restrictions. I felt like she heard us out about the whole vibe of the brand, looked at all the previous content. She’s known me for like four years so I think she already knew what she wanted. Personally I felt the most comfortable working with her. She can make something that isn’t exciting look extremely exciting on video like nothing, and then you give her something to work with that is exciting; she can elevate it to a whole new level.
R: She’s also just as a person so interested in pushing actors and pushing the situation in a certain depth to try to get something that could feel uncomfortable but is still raw and a fresh kind of look at maybe some young kids in fashion. I thought that was really exciting – there’d be situations where she’d be like leaning out of the car almost falling out, pushing everyone to get as wild and spontaneous as they could be. We were excited to have fun and all down to do what it took to get something interesting out of every moment that we shot.
I’m a little curious about the process and how it worked. As you said there was no script and you worked with people you knew.
D: The answers given were from questions from Nathalie – she’s interviewing us, asking us questions and we’re just saying the first thing that comes to mind.
R: It felt very much like stream of consciousness in a way. I feel that’s one of the themes that runs through the video – you see it in the voiceover and in the interactions, how it seems kind of spontaneous but there’s still some order to it. For me personally it felt very stream of consciousness and exploring that.
D: With the clothes, we were pretty straight with it. We make clothes, we like the clothes. We take kids that we know – our friends wear our clothes often – we know they look good in our clothes and fit the vibe well. We wanted someone who would blend in to the clothes, look like they’re wearing it over their skin. We didn’t go crazy like “pick the shirt before we get this shot.” We wanted it to just look like everyone’s hanging out chilling.
I do love the stream of consciousness and at one point, David, you mention poetry. Do you see a bit of poetry reflected in the film and what the two of you do?
D: I don’t even know if I was fully conscious when I was saying what I was saying, but I still believe everything that I said because it came out naturally without me having to overthink it. I do have a weird nostalgia with my mom reading poetry and then my sister picked it up as well. I started writing a little more since that video and I am reading more. I think that video made me realize how obsessed I was with words but I was kind of denying it.
R: I think that whenever you’re doing something that involves creativity, there is a sense of poetry to it because you’re balancing – like with the design process it’s not like bouncing words against each other, you’re bouncing ideas against each other and fabrics against each other. You’re trying to find that perfect verse through design and fabrics, and this and that, so I do think there’s a sense of poetry to anything creative.
What are some things you hope people take from this film? Maybe even people new to the brand?
R: The video is sort of bizarre. Maybe people will make some psychological connection to it. I’m not entirely sure if the connection will be based in fashion. It might be subconsciously but I think it’s more hoping that people will see it and get some sort of physical reaction to it whether - its good or bad. I’m not necessarily sure if I’m thinking it’s going to affect their fashion consciousness. It feels more like a short film and not like a fashion film. It’s a strange video at the end of the day – I kind of like that about it.
Director Nathalie Canguilhem
Talent David Friend, Miles Okeeffe, Frank Nadolny, Kyle Sourbeerr, CJ LaPeyrollerie
Assistants Ryley Paskal, Rudy Grazziani, Ella Mai Weisskamp