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Fashion Film

Fashion Film: Petra Collins for Simone Rocha & Moncler

by Petra Collins on 7 May 2020

Canadian photographer and filmmaker Petra Collins turns her dreamlike, feminine lens to bring Simone Rocha's Moncler Genius 2020 collection to life. The collaborative short film explores the dark undercurrents of movement, dance and fantasy, through following a girl and her nightmare. Once you've sent shivers up your spine by watching the film, enjoy the exclusive Q&A with Collins and Rocha on their collaborative process and cinematic influences, by Sarah Kathryn Cleaver.

Canadian photographer and filmmaker Petra Collins turns her dreamlike, feminine lens to bring Simone Rocha's Moncler Genius 2020 collection to life. The collaborative short film explores the dark undercurrents of movement, dance and fantasy, through following a girl and her nightmare. Once you've sent shivers up your spine by watching the film, enjoy the exclusive Q&A with Collins and Rocha on their collaborative process and cinematic influences, by Sarah Kathryn Cleaver.

Sarah Kathryn Cleaver: Simone, what was it about Fellini that captured your imagination this season? What themes and images did you take from his films?

Simone Rocha: Whilst researching the collection I was thinking a lot about my time in Italy for the collaboration and researching Fellini's films - the sets, the costumes, the mood. I wanted to translate the activity of Moncler into movement, dance and the fantasy of dress. I wanted to explore these alongside my aesthetic and Moncler's technical expertise

SKC: Petra, how did you take these ideas forward into the filmic medium, and what of your own themes and current preoccupations did you bring to the project? I noticed your signature horror and sci-fi elements present!

Petra Collins: To me, Simone's work is constantly grappling with what 'femininity' is, or how it can be subverted. I see a lot of beauty in her pieces but violence as well. Her tangled mesh, exposed tulle, gown like shapes that are distorted. Her pieces fit so well in the kind of films I love and want to create.

SKC: What interests you both about combining fashion and film?

SR: For me fashion is about story telling, every collection had a beginning, middle and end. It evolves through and there are highs and lows. I feel the same about film so I think they can come together quite naturally.

PC: Fashion is so important to film. Even when composing a photo, a garment can make or break it. It can either give away too much or say too little. It can change the era, the mood, the urgency, etc. I love being able to make fashion films because they usually allow me to be free creatively and let me work out things that I will eventually take to feature films.

SKC: Tell me about the storyline behind the film.

SC: The film explores the themes of movement, dance and fantasy whilst embracing the dark and twisted side. Secrets, relationships, fragility and energy. So the story is following a girl and her nightmare.

PC: I grew up dancing and thought that it was going to be my life. I imagined that I'd be a ballerina somewhere. I grew up with some trauma and it was the space I could work it out. Unfortunately, at 15 I had an accident and had to get surgery. I was then told that I should never dance again. The space of dance is so interesting to me, especially for young women, you spend 90% of your time examining yourself in the mirror and comparing yourself to other dancers. This is dangerous because you are doing this as your body changes and a lot of those changes feel violently deceiving. The ideal body of a dancer is usually one that holds prepubescent qualities - so when you grow out of that its horrifying. I took this concept into this film - making it a little more abstract and visually dramatic.

Still from Hausu (1977) one of Collins' visual references

SKC: Would both of you tell me a little bit about the process of working together on this film?

SC: We have collaborated in small ways before with Petra's photographs, but I have always liked how she was developing film, so I approached her for this project to capture the collection together. It started with me sharing images of the original fitting of the collections in work, and also some of the original research and imagery it was inspired by. Then she translated how it could be in a film.  

PC: It’s funny, it's hard to explain - we just flow basically. Simone is so open to ideas, as I am with her, that we just go, go, go.

SKC: How did the two of you originally meet and begin working together?

SR: We originally met through Petra’s pictures and I love how she photographed my clothes, so we had started talking then we finally met in person in my store in New York four years ago. My collaboration with Moncler has been an opportunity for me to explore new ways of presenting my collections and to work with amazing creative talent. I have long admired Petra's work and she has shot my collections on many occasions but this was the first time we directly worked together.

PC: I forget, but I had been a fan of hers FOREVER. I actually used her work in a lot of my shoots, and then in my music video for Selena Gomez' Fetish.

Still from Audition (1999) one of Collins' visual references

SKC: For a behind-the-scenes look at your creative processes, would you be able to share any of the visual references that you exchanged during this project?

PC: Mine lean heavily into films like Hausu and Audition.


SKC: Tell me a little bit about the cast, were they dancers? How did they respond to wearing the garments?

SR: The cast was a collaboration of characters I know and work with, like Tess McMillan, alongside a group of dancers called Clod Ensemble. It was a great opportunity to see the inspiration come to life and to inject movement into the collection. The dancers were amazing and really engaged with the whole concept.

PC: This was the best part!!! Simone’s pieces are so fun to wear, because each garment requires different types of movement.

Still from Hausu (1977) one of Collins' visual references

SKC: Petra, fashion films are usually enjoyed online. How was it for you as a filmmaker to have a proper screening in a red velvet cinema at the Moncler Genius event? Any plans for a feature in the future?

PC: It made me emotional - I was about to go into meetings with production companies for my feature the following week. I had been writing a horror movie with my partner Melissa Broder for over a year, and this event was sort of a sneak peek for me. I had a moment with Tim Blanks–where he told me he saw a lot of body horror references in the film–which excited me because it was/is the theme of my upcoming feature. Unfortunately, in this time nothing is certain, and I don't know when we can begin filming, so looking back on that screening is all I have for now.

SKC: On the subject on film, do either of you have any recommendations for what we can watch from our coronavirus quarantines?

SR: I've personally watched Barry Lyndon, Minding the Gap and Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

PC: My favourites are: Hausu, Perfect Blue, Audition, and Under the Skin.

Still from Barry Lyndon (1975)
Interview by:
Creative Direction:
Simone Rocha, Petra Collins

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