ACCESSORIES CAPER: Two young women loafing in a parked car notice that a window at the top of a building has been left open. Curious, they climb the fire escape and create havoc in the showroom owned by accessories designer Tarina Tarantino.
While some might be alarmed at the crime in play and call the police, the scenario is actually the setup for Tarantino’s new quirky film that pokes fun at style-obsessed Millennials who’d do anything for fashion, at bloggers and, of course, at fashion films. Titled “Velvet Karma,” the six-minute flick is the 10th in a series that Tarantino and her husband, Alfonso Campos, have made over the past nine years with thespian friends such as Illeana Douglas. Through the antics of Bailey Noble and Emily Mest, real-life friends who had starred, respectively, in “True Blood” and “The Malibu Tapes,” but never worked together before, fans get a peek at the amulet necklaces, disk-shaped cocktail rings, stacked bangles and other fuzzy velvet-flocked jewelry from Tarantino’s fall collection.
As Isabelle and May, Noble and Mest remain mostly silent except to occasionally utter compliments like “badass” and “so obsessed.” Despite their fondness for fashion, they mispronounce Anna Wintour’s name. They also manage to stage a mini-makeover, trading their striped Ts and distressed denim for boxy sweatshirts and gender-bending jumpsuits provided by Oak, which occupies the first-floor retail space in Tarantino’s seven-story building. In a jab at the apparel and beauty industries, the duo makes a point to mock “one of those pretentious fashion films where they reference Sixties French black-and-white stuff” and ponder starting a blog like everyone else. When they trigger the security alarm, they flee the scene without their car keys. Realizing their ineptitude, they burst into laughter.
“A lot of these fashion films take themselves so seriously,” Tarantino said. “We wanted to do something a little lighter, a little fun that appeals to a broad range of customers, not just the fashion elite.”
Still, one of their biggest challenges is “trying to figure out how to incorporate jewelry without making it seem like a commercial,” said Campos, who is the film’s director as well as the company’s chief executive officer. He took on the task by observing how Noble and Mest played with the jewelry at a recent party held in their downtown office, which is also known as the Sparkle Factory. He wrote the script that night. Within five days, they started shooting the film.
Arturo Solar’s orchestral score pays homage to the romantic but melancholy music that Henry Mancini composed in the Sixties and Seventies. Tarantino and Campos’ 13-year-old daughter, Chloe, provided a youthful eye on set, for instance, moving a yellow vanity table to add a shock of color in one scene. If they hadn’t done everything in-house or employed their children, they would have spent upward of $15,000 on the production. The film will premiere at the La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival in July, around the same time that the company plans to unveil its branded boutique on the building’s second floor.
One thing missing from the film was Tarantino in her unforgettable pink tresses, a frequent guest star in past projects.
“This time, with the narrative, there was no place for it,” she said. “The jewelry is the star.”