Contagious Campaigns: Footwear Designers Go Viral

Seeking more engaging ways to showcase their designs and build buzz, footwear brands have created short films for their fall collections.

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WWD Accessory issue 08/15/2011

We’re talking about viral videos, and the word is spreading fast.

This story first appeared in the August 15, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Seeking more engaging ways to showcase their designs and build buzz, footwear brands including Charlotte Olympia, Alejandro Ingelmo and Méchante of London have created short films for their fall collections.

“Most accessories designers don’t put on shows, so it’s often difficult to portray the vibe of a collection or the essence of a brand,” says Charlotte Olympia Dellal, who launched her line in 2007. “Shoes are not just stand-alone objects—they’re never going to be worn by themselves. A movie allows you to put them in an environment that complements their materials, colors and inspiration. It makes the shoes come to life.”

Her latest collection is inspired by Agatha Christie, so Dellal created a noir-ish murder mystery movie that was screened during London Fashion Week in February. Filmed at London’s Blakes hotel, the story portrays the glamorous Lady Webb in her bedroom, prepping for a night out. As she tries on different outfits, her arch rival, Madame Rouge, and coquettish maid, Miss Chambers, peek into the room, staring longingly at her shoes.

“I wanted to convey that idea of them being coveted,” says London-based filmmaker Jam, who wrote and shot the Olympia piece. “In the story, all eyes are on the shoes.” Everything from the saturated color palette and Forties-inspired costumes to the dramatic music and surrealist quality of the cinematography adds to the powerful vision.

As for Ingelmo’s mini-film, he saw it as a compelling alternative to traditional look books and ads. “With everything that’s going on with digital and social media and with magazines shifting to more interactive formats, I wanted to tell my story in a more modern way,” he notes. The designer’s slick production, which he directed himself and can be viewed on his Web site, features leggy models strutting the cobblestone streets of New York’s SoHo neighborhood, set to a sound track by DJ Victor Calderone. Ingelmo chose to forgo a story line in order to put the spotlight on the shoes. “Often people think they’re art pieces, that they’re not wearable,” he adds. “By showing somebody wearing the shoes and how she moves in them, people will understand them better.”

Méchante designer Deborah Lyons said her first video has brought tremendous exposure to her fledgling brand. The five-minute clip, done in collaboration with ready-to-wear designer William Tempest and shot by fashion lensman Patrick Lindblom, premiered on harpersbazaar.co.uk earlier this year and within 24 hours spread to magazines and blogs across the Internet. “Creating something that can go viral is such a powerful way of getting your message out,” Lyons says, pointing out that, unlike still images which are typically viewed and quickly forgotten, a film leaves a longer-lasting impression and can be watched over and over again. Set in a forest in Norfolk, England, Lyons’ eerie, dreamlike story depicts the persecution of witches in the 17th century, tying back to the dark, Gothic theme that over-arches her collection. “It’s all about putting the shoes in the context you had in mind when designing them,” she says. “And giving consumers a real, tangible feeling that a photo of a shoe just can’t.”

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