Luca Guadagnino: In fashion | FilmInk

This year, Luca Guadagnino won the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival for bones and alla surprisingly touching story of cannibalistic lovers starring Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell, which won the newcomer award.

However, two years ago at the same festival, at the height of the pandemic, I had an exclusive interview with the director for his documentary Ferragamo, Salvatore: the cobbler of dreamswhich is just as engrossing – of course, without the blood and guts of his new film.

Can you explain your fascination not only with shoes but also with fashion in general.

“I’m happy to explain my fascination with fashion, although I don’t think Salvatore: the cobbler of dreams is necessarily a film about fashion. I think fashion is vitally important when you understand that it’s kind of an intersection between capitalism and imagery, and how one can help the other. I think that from the beginning, fashion has been able to give a sense of itself in the future, to anticipate our desires and to create a desire for our needs, perhaps needs that are not really necessary. So it’s a fascinating thing to me. But the other point is that fashion is a lot about form and it’s no secret that I’m very interested in the concept of form.

“Finally, fashion is a system that really asks us to understand our relationship to consumption. How do we manage that and sustainability today, compared to what happened before? The way fashion changes over the decades is super fascinating. Maybe one day I’ll make a movie about it. But when it comes to Salvatore Ferragamo and this movie, the trigger for me was less fashion than what makes a person a genius, and how we can understand that kind of complexity and the mystery of man and witness his presence in the world. ”

He was so young when he discovered his talent. Did you have this genius at a young age?

“People think I’m arrogant, but I’m not arrogant enough to call myself a genius. But I can say that I’ve stuck to my point as a filmmaker since I was very, very young. I had a Super 8 camera when I was seven or eight. I wasn’t as good at it as Mr. Ferragamo was at making shoes at seven or eight, but I knew what I wanted. And I’m very fascinated by the mix of humility, ingenuity and discipline of knowing what you want and trying to get it without getting distracted along the way. And I think Ferragamo has never been distracted. Even when he lived in Hollywood, he created, in fact, he was one of the people who helped create Hollywood.

Did you feel connected to Ferragamo’s story during filming?

“I liked the idea that Salvatore was a kind of outsider, a non-conformist, someone very off-centre. It’s something that I share a little. Salvatore was always able to understand the nature of this he was creating and how to distribute that creation in the world. He knew he needed artificial weapons to get people talking about him. So his idea of ​​Italy, his idea of ​​Florence, is as artificial as the idea of ​​Italy in a movie shot in Hollywood in the 1930s. He knew that what goes through our minds as consumers is more a matter of desire for something and his imagination than actual reality. He wasn’t Florentine, he wasn’t Tuscan, he was from Bonito in the south of Italy, but he knew that Florence carried within her an idea of ​​Italy that was very important in the world. that he began to forge the identity of his brand.

What do you think he would do with the fashion world today?

“I think he would be quite discouraged, to be honest, because with Salvatore it all started with an idea that took shape in work, in craftsmanship. I don’t know if he was a genius with the drawings. There are designers like Mr. Lagerfeld who was great at designing. He could make a design and you could see the design become the dress and it was exactly the same. But not all designers work like that. I think Salvatore thought about the concept of what he wanted to do and tried until the form took shape. Today, I think that, with very few exceptions, the fashion system is to suggest that there is some sort of Salvatore-style process of ideas, when in fact it is mostly a replica of other ideas and a sort of reproduction of ideas that are already there. It’s a constant revival, plus the fact that fashion is still created and produced primarily as mass production.

“When he came to America and saw in Chicago how the factories worked, he said, ‘No, no, no, I can’t do that’.”

Are Ferragamo shoes still handmade?

“In the film, we show how they create two shoes, the Rainbow shoe and the Marilyn shoe, which are still sold. They’re really up to date today as much as they were in the 30s and 40s. It’s a mix of craftsmanship, home-made, and machine-driven. These are the collections called creations, which are reproductions of what Salvatore designed. I can’t speak for the brand though. I can talk about the movie (laughs).

Do you have a pair of Ferragamo shoes?

“Yeah. They’re incredibly comfortable. And they’re really great in the sense that you can see them, but you can also forget about them. I think they’re something that stands the test of time. It’s something thing you understand is great, but not intrusive.

So his shoe design kind of parallels your creative vision?

“I was interested in the fact that he was forging new things. He was one of the first designers of fashion items in the sense of contemporaneity. He was in Hollywood, and he understood the star system before the star system became what it is. He understood how to sell the dream of “Made in Italy” before it existed. He understood the importance of the idea of ​​a legacy by buying the Palazzo Spini Feroni before anyone started making that assumption. So that sense of discovery, that sense of entrepreneurial ability, of foreseeing the future, is something that really fascinates me. I don’t think it’s some kind of fairy tale. He was so obsessed with his work and his creation, which of course I love.

Make the movie difficult sometimes?

“I can’t deny the fact that making movies is always a very difficult process and often times you feel more defeated than uplifted. For any kind of success anyone can have, you’ve been through hell many times So, it’s probably not that my films speak to me, but the truth is that I’m learning not to feel put down by difficulties, they’ll always be there all the time, and we have to face them.

The material obviously came from the Ferragamo family, but were there things you would have liked to capture, even though what you got was amazing?

“Making this film was a three year long process and it involved interviewing a lot of people. Because we had to be in the two hour realm, it was kind of sad not to extend a lot of those excellent interviews, but at the same time the research was enormous.

“I have to say my editor Walter Fasano was amazing making sure we could have all of this amazing material and the Ferragamo Foundation gave us so much access to unseen things like the home movies that Ferragamo himself was shooting in the ’40s with his Super 8 camera and unpublished family photos. Plus, the juxtaposition of things is great, like when you hear costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis discuss how Ferragamo shoes can signify a character’s identity in a movie. We see it in his words, but also in the images of the films that we show. It’s great, because you start to have new perspectives on things.

How was it for you to work on a documentary?

“I started by making documentaries. My first attempt was a documentary about a young blue-collar worker who worked in the Italian car industry. I never stopped making documentaries. I did Bertolucci on Bertolucci and italian unconscious. It is an incredibly liberating and fascinating medium. And it has as many genres and as many possibilities of form as fiction.

Is beauty something that constantly tempts you?

“I’m a little discouraged by this need for beauty. We cannot deny that beauty is an important aspect of philosophical thinking, the concept of beauty over two centuries, and people who paint and sculpt, etc. The problem is that in our time, beauty is a profession of superficiality. We think we can access beauty by using a filter on a social media app, so we have a beautiful picture of something. The orgy of images in which we are immersed is something I do not want to be defeated. So, more than beauty, I am now interested in intelligence, and for me intelligence means being able to welcome others and say: ‘Ok, you are different from me and I want to experience your difference’.

“Let’s talk about that more than beauty, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Something beautiful to me doesn’t have to be beautiful to another person. The idea of ​​absolute beauty also borders on fascism.

Can we talk about your other film Venice 2020, the short documentary Fiori, Fiori, Fiori, where you traveled from Milan to Sicily to discuss the pandemic with your childhood friends? Can you tell us why you wanted to do this?

“It was a very difficult time for me personally. I mean, I think it’s been hard for all of us around the world, not being able to live our lives the way we used to and being away from people, changing our work habits, our social habits. We know each other and we would hug each other if times were normal. So that’s a toll we’ll have to think about paying in the future, I’m sure. And apart from that, it’s been a very difficult time for me personally, because of the losses in my family and the losses in my personal life. And I felt restless. In Italy, I discovered a production company that was among the companies allowed to continue during the lockdown, in case you needed to do something worthwhile. So, we did all the legal procedures and we realized that we could go to Sicily from Milan. More than talking about me, it was interesting to see what the people who were dear to me were thinking during the confinement in Sicily, where I grew up. So, I went to their homes and places and in the process I even came across my father’s village. For four days we traveled, three people with our iPhone and our iPad – one of the rare times an iPhone is useful – and then we made this short film. It was interesting because it was very heavy weather, lacking in oxygen. And yet we arrived in Sicily, and everything was colorful, with flowers everywhere. So, we thought that’s what the movie was going to be called because nature is telling us something about hope.

Salvatore: Shoemaker of Dreams at the Italian Film Festival

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