Italian director and Oscar nominee for Call Me by Your Name, Luca Guadagnino, teams up with Valentino's creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli for his latest short movie, The Staggering Girl. The 35-minute short premiered during the 2019 Cannes Directors' Fortnight section, starring Julianne Moore, Kyle MacLachlan and Mia Goth.
MUBI, a distributor and subscription-based streaming service released the film's trailer on 3 February and all signs point to a grotesque fashionable drama that reminds us Guadagnino's latest work, Suspiria, based on Dario Argento's 1977 film of the same name. The Staggering Girl sees Julianne Moore play Manhattan-based writer Francesca, who journeys to Italy to try and persuade her almost-blind mother Sofia (Marthe Keller) to return home with her to America. Kyle McLachlan plays several vaguely menacing characters in the film -a habit Guadagnino apparently loves to include in his latest works. Seen best in Suspiria, as chameleon actress Tilda Swinton incarnated three characters alongside Mia Goth as the younger Sofia and KiKi Layne as Francesca’s downstairs neighbour.
Guadagnino seems to be intrigued by Giallo movies, the Italian horror genre that often contains slasher, crime fiction, sexploitation and psychedelic elements. The theme of the movie creates an enigmatic contrast with Pierpaolo Piccioli's colourful creations from Valentino's S/S 18 haute couture collection. Among the characters’ many stand-out looks from the collection, we notice a sweeping beige opera cape with a honeycomb-inspired trim, worn by Moore; a frothy cream tulle gown, shown off by frequent Valentino collaborator Layne, as well as a voluminous fuschia jacket, and a prim buttercup-coloured coat; and an ethereal Goth in a romantic belted dress featuring a fluid goddess pattern.
This isn't the first time the director explores the fashion world. Outside of film, he began working with the Italian fashion house Fendi in 2005 and most recently, for its S/S 20 menswear collection, he designed a print that appeared on sheer blouses, bucket hats, tote bags, and shorts. Moreover, he headed the jury for Louis Vuitton's Journey Awards in 2012, an international competition dedicated to young filmmakers and he also participated as a jury member in the first edition of Fashion Film Festival Milano in 2014, chaired by Franca Sozzani, chief editor of Vogue Italia.
Peculiar, unsettling and imaginative, Luca Guadagnino seems to be creating a unique visual synthesis with the help of Pierpaolo Piccioli's craftmanship; a well-marinated mix of vibrant textures and dark cinematic atmosphere that has undoubtedly won our interest.