Ruth Hogben makes strong fashion films
I feel that unless I look at something fearless, I really cannot be bothered with the rest of the message.
I need strong fashion imagery. Having worked in the industry for many years representing bold artists with a powerful visual narrative, I feel that unless I look at something fearless, I really cannot be bothered with the rest of the message.
We are assaulted with slick fashion imagery day in and day out. Perfume commercials that last one minute and have cost 4 million to make. A gorgeous film star runs through a beautiful room/palace/garden/woods wearing a long evening gown/nothing/a fur coat/a Chanel handbag, looking for her lover/her perfume/her dog/her packed lunch and in the end having obtained what she wanted, which is normally the perfume bottle, she looks at it with melting eyes and an expression that tells me: Dang! had I not found my perfume I would be so over. I am only half a woman without my Chanel!
Fashion commercials, perfume commercials, fashion films, most music videos they all look the same to me, visual froufrou overload, and in fact they annoy me so much that I zap and change the channel. Exception made for the work of certain filmmakers who always surprise and inspire me.
One of these artists, actually my favorite, is Ruth Hogben from the UK. Between 2005 and 2009 Ruth worked as an assistant to Nick Knight, one of my most admired fashion photographers in the world. In 2009 she co-directed with Knight the unique undersea fantasia film Plato’s Atlantis for Alexander McQueen. The resulting film is part of Knight’s SHOWStudio.com platform.
From The New York Times some details about their collaboration: “Mr. Knight’s SHOWstudio is a hard-to-quantify entity, equal parts photo studio, web magazine and streaming portal. But at that point, fashion film as a medium was an undefined genre. Ms. Hogben started documenting the shoots taking place at SHOWstudio, which led to broader conversations with Mr. Knight about the possibilities of fashion film as a new art form.
“It was like light bulbs, fireworks in my head”, she said. “Clothes moving. All of the choices you can make with films. It was the most exciting thing I’d ever discovered”. Her role morphed from being a photo assistant to the staff filmmaker, making films with Mr. Knight and directing her own. “I was lucky”, she said. “I could go: ‘Nick, do you like this? Nick, do you hate this? Is this O.K.?’”
In 2009, she set out on her own. “She’s probably the first fashion filmmaker as opposed to a photographer who makes fashion films,” Mr. Knight said. “She has an incredible understanding of women and movement and an absolute love for fashion. That is what it takes, that sort of obsession you see in people like Steven Meisel and Helmut Newton”.
Film is a firmly ensconced facet of fashion now. Every high-fashion company decks out its stores with video monitors, streams its shows and produces online films. Ms. Hogben is comfortable in her place in the realm”.
Ruth’s body of work is impressive. From music videos for Kanye West and Lady GaGa, to online content for Love, Another Magazine and Dazed and Confused, advertising films for Dior, Fendi, and Gareth Pugh, as well as the stunning installation pieces at Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London right now. The installation videos are a compilation of footage from all his shows.
Ruth was deaf until the age of seven which is maybe how her visual sense can be attributed and explained. “Every time I make a film, I feel something,” she said. “Whether it’s commercial or creative, I sit in front of my computer and answer questions to myself and feel fulfilled. I don’t care what is going on outside of that feeling, to be honest”.
And the short film Fanclub for Love magazine, a hommage to 1930’s musical film director, the one and only Busby Berkely who I wrote about here. You cannot watch Fanclub without also looking at Busby’s huge dance numbers on my post, because those were made with hundreds of dancers and no computer imaging, something unfathomable these days.
Ruth’s women look powerful, physically strong, sensual, empowered. The thumping techno music choices are also part of what inspires me. Below and last, a film by Ruth for Celine.
I selected it because in spite of being very product-oriented it manages to be unique and makes the Celine model look strong and gives her power whilst remaining sensual, something that I wrote about here and very much support.
If you are interested in a very good interview by Nina Byttebier for Vice, click here.