Saturday, December 20, 2008

"Sydney Fashion Week" video a mystery to Sydney Fashion Week

Anyone scratching their head about this "Sydney Fashion Week" video that has just started doing a net whiparound, purportedly authored by UK-based creative director James Warfield, rest assured, you are not alone. Although picked up by Kanye West and a swag of other bloggers, the film did not ring any bells to frockwriter – or, for that matter, Australian Fashion Week founder Simon Lock who, you’d figure, would have a clue. “Maybe he’s got his fashion timings and his Fashion Weeks mixed up” said Lock. As it turns out, the film was created by a Sydney-based film production company called Engine for a February 2005 fashion show staged by Australian department store Myer - at a time when Warfield was working for Engine as an animator. The extent of Warfield's involvement in the film remains to be seen.

UPDATE 21/12 @ 9.30AM The video has since been removed by Warfield from his Vimeo and other accounts, but obviously not quickly enough to avoid reproduction on other online video services, such as the one used by Kanye West (linked above). Although the comments have now also been removed, in two separate web forums yesterday Warfield mentioned that he worked on the video at Engine for two weeks, including weekends.

Warfield describes himself as a creative director of the Leicester, UK-based creative agency Un.Titled.

On his personal website, Warfield lists the video under the banner of “Sydney Fashion Week”, with accompanying graphics describing it as:

“Fashion Week Launch Film Sydney”

A quick glance at what appears to be Warfield’s Vimeo video account provides the following additional information about the video:
Open the Sydney Autumn/Winter fashion show.

Blizzards, glass trees and people dressed in snow geese outfits. This film created to open the catwalk extravaganza fitted right in. After presenting initial concepts to the client, I pulled together eclectic footage, abstract elements and music in a restrictive time frame.

The film set the scene for one of the most glamorous events in the Sydney couture calendar.

In fact, the video was initially created as a backdrop for Myer’s autumn/winter 05 fashion show in February 2005, to coincide with the release of the new winter merchandise in-store.

The event had nothing to do with Australian Fashion Week, the high profile wholesale collections showcase, whose spring/summer edition takes place at Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal each May.

The video production was sub-contracted to Engine by the Myer show's production team, helmed by creative director Tony Assness, in collaboration with Victoria and Robert Fisher.

According to Victoria Fisher, Tony Assness sourced the music and directed the clip, which was produced by Engine executive producer Alastair Stephen and creative director Finnegan Spencer. The video is included on Engine's website, as well as that of the Fishers' company, Production Stuff.

Warfield was part a team that worked on the video and may have used footage from his own showreel, said Fisher, who added that Warfield did not liaise with Myer.

Warfield was uncontactable at time of filing.

On Warfield's above-linked Vimeo account, a poster who goes by the name of "Robert Fisher" has just left the following comment:

"Nice animation James to bad it's not for Fashion Week, it was for Myer, I'd love to know which client you spoke to. What about all the other people who worked on this job from Engine they made you look good".

Meanwhile, although this Myer video and AFW might not be connected, there is as it happens a connection between Myer, the Assness/Fisher amalgam and AFW – the bitter history of which makes the mistaken attribution of the video to "Sydney Fashion Week" all the more amusing.

Assness and the Fishers mounted a series of on-schedule, off-site AFW fashion shows from 2002-2005.

Although amongst the most spectacular shows ever witnessed at the event, the trio's off-site show schedule, eventually staged at the Wharf 3 container terminal, became mired in controversy over sponsorship issues.

In 2003, advertising collateral for Volkswagon proved problematic with the main event's naming rights sponsor Mercedes.

In one hilarious incident, Lock was accused of diverting a busload of delegates who were en route between the two venues, until the Volkswagon signage was removed.

Champagne sponsor Moet later jumped ship to the off-site event.

After calling crisis talks with the industry in early 2004 over the future of his eight year-old - and by that stage, cash-strapped - main event (which was acquired by IMG in October 2005), Lock eventually forced Assness and the Fishers off-schedule that year.

Initially proposed as the principle sponsor of the 2004 Wharf 3 shows, Myer got cold feet and plans for a full-scale off-site show schedule collapsed.

The trio continued to work on Myer's season launch shows.

Their last AFW show was Michelle Jank's off-schedule, off-site show in May 2005 - they did not work on Jank's AFW homecoming show in May this year, which coincidentally, had its own spectacular video backdrop, produced by Daniel Askill:

But Jank recently talked about her efforts to hook Assness up in Europe...


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