LONDON — Fenn O’Meally has been flexing her storytelling muscles across film and radio for five years, and now her work, which zooms in on youth culture, has begun to grab the attention of major fashion labels, and Paul Smith in particular.
Her latest project is a campaign film created with Smith to spotlight the brand’s playful take on tailoring. In it, a diverse cast of characters handpicked by O’Meally and ranging from London-based rapper Duckwrth, to musician Connie Constance, to models Juno Song and Breanna Box and choreographer Kelsey Hydro Miller, are shown dancing to beats by the up-and-coming hip-hop artist Jevon and talking about how they feel in a suit.
“It was about getting people who are extremely relatable, and at the same time extremely talented. Every single one of them has a creative streak,” said O’Meally, who wanted to present the upbeat, carefree spirit of the brand, which channels Smith’s design ethos of creating clothes that a person can fully own, rather than vice versa. The video is online at paulsmith.com.
She added that she wants the same feeling of positivity to underline all of her work: “So many people do an extremely good job of talking about problems, but I really try and hone in on the flip side of that and what is positive. I want to make sure that whenever someone consumes a film or a radio show I’ve produced, they come away with some sort of feeling of happiness. For instance, at the moment there are so many stories about knife crime in youth culture; I want to give youth a voice and tell the stories of youth culture but from a more positive lens.”
O’Meally, who has created short films for Nike and Henry Holland and who regularly interviews London creatives such as the model Leomie Anderson and hip-hop artist Kojaque on BBC Radio, said her style has evolved via trial and error.
“I just started off wanting to be a presenter, but unless you have a big following or a specific background, it’s not easy to convince a channel why it’s your face they want, to tell those stories or do those interviews,” she said. “It got to a point where I decided to start filming and editing myself on my own YouTube channel and from there this unique skill set evolved that allows me to produce a short film one day and host a radio show the next.”
Social media has been another powerful tool for O’Meally. Her growing following on platforms such as Instagram, where she has 11,000 followers, has not only helped her reel in the brands, but has also encouraged collaborators to come forward.
“Social helps with the proximity you have to people all over the world. The soundtracks I use in a lot of my films are by people I have found through Soundcloud. It’s really interesting how social media has enabled people to directly contact each other and brands to be more immersive and really understand their consumer. It’s why Paul Smith wanted to collaborate with me,” said O’Meally.
As she continues to grow her platform, O’Meally said she wants to continue dabbling between different media, all in the name of getting creatives to open up and tell their stories in different, positive ways.
Diversity, particularly the discussion around cultural appropriation and braiding, has been on her mind and just like she represents a diverse cast of characters in her own films, she hopes to see the industry move forward in a more meaningful way in this respect: “It should never be the case that we are applauding a brand for putting a black person on the runway, it really should just be a norm.”