By  on July 11, 2014

MILAN — As part of its ongoing rejuvenation and internationalization, Milan Fashion Week in September will be bookended by the first Fashion Film Festival Milano, a new talent search, the brainchild of Constanza Cavalli Etro.

The festival, running Sept. 14 and 15, will also hold an exhibition of fashion short videos by established designer brands. Partnering with the Italian Chamber of Fashion, the films will be visible throughout fashion week in Milan, running Sept. 17 to 22. The festival’s closing event will take place on Sept. 22 at the Triennale museum with a cocktail party for about 300 guests with screenings paying tribute to visionaries in fashion filmmaking.

“I felt it was appropriate to create an event that puts together fashion and movies, a moment of open congregation targeting young creative talents, bringing them into the world of fashion, flanked by the work of big brands at the same time,” Cavalli Etro said during an exclusive interview with Jane Reeve, chief executive officer of the Camera Nazionale della Moda at the association’s headquarters here. “Fashion week has been somewhat distant from young people.”

With this project, the Buenos Aires-born Cavalli Etro blends her background in communications and public relations, as a founder of CavalliComunicacion in Mexico; her passion for fashion, as a fashion editor of Fashion Week Mexico, and that for cinema, as a cofounder of the first Latin American movie festival and the first Argentinian film festival in Mexico. Marrying Kean Etro, men’s wear creative director of the family brand, she moved to Italy in 2006. “I had been mulling the idea of a fashion film festival for a while and when Jane joined the Camera, I felt the time had come for the project to finally take shape,” said Cavalli Etro, enthusiastically mapping out the development of the project, noting her kinship to Reeve, who hails from marketing, communication and advertising.

Reeve, who started in her new role at the association in January, was immediately taken by Cavalli Etro’s proposal of a partnership and said that the Chamber’s board and members were unanimously on board. “The festival responds to my objectives to open up Milan’s fashion week, to make it more international and to support young creative talents,” said the U.K.-born Reeve, joking about the Argentinian-British alliance to boost the Italian fashion week. “This is a new way to communicate and explore new aesthetic codes, narrative and style. The Camera is increasingly more attentive to the enhancement of the existing connection between fashion and the different languages with which it expresses itself, and we are happy to be part of a project that brings visibility to the rest in the world,” explained Reeve. “Fashion is a combination of many different stimuli and it constantly intersects different industries, from furniture to food. All these impulses redefine fashion.”

The organization has already received 150 videos from around the world, and 70 films from designer brands. Cavalli Etro said she views this as a “democratic” project as it is free and open to all, the only requisite being that the films should not be older than three years. She also believes that big designer names will help have pulling power. “It will be the same window for all, but big helps small,” she said.

To be sure, several designers have recently been developing movies as a marketing tool and creative release, projecting their vision and style through storytelling and beyond the stillness of photos. To wit, Prada has been producing high-level films since 2005’s short “Thunder Perfect Mind” by Ridley and Jordan Scott, about Amber, its first women’s fragrance, showing at the Berlin Film Festival that year. In 2012, the Italian luxury firm worked with Roman Polanski, who directed a short movie, titled “A Therapy,” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and starring Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter, wearing costumes designed by Miuccia Prada exclusively for the film.

Other industry examples in Italy include Giorgio Armani, a veteran, having worked with Martin Scorsese since 1987, or partnering with “I Am Love” director Luca Guadagnino, who has over the years also worked with Fendi, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Pomellato. Versace and Ermenegildo Zegna turned to director James Lima for their own shorts. “A film tells the soul of a brand,” said Cavalli Etro.

The films can be submitted until Tuesday at fffmilano.com and will be viewed by an international jury that is still being confirmed. No backstage videos or films from the shows will be accepted. Categories include best fashion film, best director and best script, among others.

Slated to run as an annual event, the festival will take place at Milan’s iconic Teatro Grassi, cofounded by famed director Giorgio Strehler, but it could also travel to other cities and, in the future, be extended in time. “Teatro Grassi is the home of contemporary theater at an international level, and an intellectual icon,” said Cavalli Etro. “This is the first fashion event that the theater hosts,” she added proudly.

Designed by Barnaba Fornasetti, the awards will be bestowed during a ceremony on Sept. 15, followed by a cocktail party at the theater’s Renaissance cloister.

There will also be a Fashion Gives a Hand section, dedicated to social projects in Ecuador and Bolivia, for example.

“In a world where the digital image is increasingly important, fashion films reflect our times,” concluded Reeve.

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