The six-minute film, “aMANda,” was previewed in London and will be shown online from Thursday across all Fendi social channels.
The film was made by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, founders of The Visual Clinic. The two discussed making a film with somebody who could play all the roles.
“It wasn’t going to be a man who played a woman — that just wasn’t going to work. But a woman playing a man felt absolutely right for the collection. And we thought ‘Who could pull that off?’ And we both said, ‘Amanda could do that,’” Kinmonth told WWD.
The film opens on darkened train tracks and tells the story of a man — the hirsute Harlech — thrust into a surreal landscape from a night train. He wakes in his urban clothes, unsure of where he is or his purpose in being there.
All the while he is seeing visions of an enchanting woman (also played by Harlech), who is hidden away in a tower like Rapunzel. He rows across a lake to meet her. The woman waits patiently, stoking her fire in a coat tied about her waist, and finally sees her man walking beneath the tower.
“The idea of gender is so now,” said Monfreda. “I didn’t understand what a muse is, or why Karl Lagerfeld has her as his muse but I see now. Amanda could have been an incredible actress because the way she acts is absolutely sublime; when she was the man she was a man and when she was the woman, she was herself. We didn’t have to do a single second cut, she got it the first time, every time.”
Kinmonth added: “I happen to know she has great abilities as an actress from knowing her since we were at Oxford. She has an ability to inhabit character, which is a profound part of her work in fashion.”
For Harlech, the film wasn’t without its trials. “The wig was the worst,” she said. “There’s the wig cap, of course, but then they practically had to staple the wig to my scalp with these terrible little clips to get it to stay on my head. It was really rather painful. Then there were the hours I had to spend lying on an anthill in a field.”
The film was shot over three days in the private natural reserve of Capalbio, Italy called La Sacra. The scenery was captured by director of photography Giorgio Horn.
The lake of Burano, which divides the land from a wooded isthmus of dunes and a romantic 12th-century tower, becomes the dreamlike background for the two characters to play out their haunting drama of love, identity and longing.
The script consists of muted whisperings breathily spoken over an atmospheric musical soundtrack. One of the lines, “What heart heard of, ghost guessed,” came from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins.
Harlech wears silhouettes from Fendi’s fall collection, including a wool suit in tobacco and gray tweed and a thick woolen sweater. Her female character sports pieces from the women’s wear line.
Silvia Venturini Fendi said: “The Fendi man is all about subtle elegance and this is perfectly conveyed by the inimitable Italian landscape, yet by the surreal atmosphere of the story.”