“Can you do more, in telling a story, than just a runway show? I think you can,” Marcus Wainwright rag & bone CEO, Founder and Creative Director tells Grazia, then set about proving it with the brand’s latest fashion film for SS18.
Why Can’t We Get Along takes it title from its Thom Yorke-penned soundtrack. Gathering together the Radiohead frontman, new-gen actors Ansel Elgort and Kate Mara, director-choreographer Benjamin Millepied – who recruited dancers from the American Ballet Theater and members of the hip hop ballet corp The Hiplet – and dancer and rapper Kandi Reign, plus athletes from Bulletrun Parkour, and the breakout star of the film, self-styled artist filmmaker and rig designer Tony Hill at Green Point Terminal Warehouse in Brooklyn one day, Marcus set about making a film that seeks to challenge the way we see seasonal fashion and the wider world.
He explains, “The film is about two people that don’t necessarily see the world in the same way. It’s a response to the way people are consumed with their phones these days, not necessarily seeing the world as it is, just consuming life through the digital realm as opposed to the analogue reality. It’s also a response to the status quo of the fashion system, a response to what fashion films normally look like.”
This, then, made Tony a perfect co-conspirator. Tony reveals, “For years I’ve been building these camera rigs. I was finding ways to see the world in ways you can’t normally see. I remember thinking we’ve become a bit complacent, visually. After a while we stop needing to look so much and be aware of space and gravity and so on because we can deal with it.” Tony’s five camera rigs are responsible for the mind-bending cinematographic effects in the film. “Looking at it in a different way was almost reawakening consciousness visually of what’s around us. I kind of know where I’m going but I’m not sure what I’m going to find along the way and I don’t know how it’s going to end up.” A fitting metaphor for the present uncertainty in the fashion system if ever there was one.
A brave move, then, for Marcus to give his SS18 collection equal billing in the film to the music, choreography, and cinematography. Was that intentional? “Absolutely! We’ve always done that in some ways. You could debate the validity of what we are doing, but most brands are very prescriptive – all content is created to heroify the collection – but rag & bone isn’t necessarily about that,” argues the New York-based Brit. “Everything can be heroic; it doesn’t have to be the clothes. You are creating something that from an artistic level has to stand on its own. If you take the clothes out, it still has to be a great film, for the sake of the film, for the artistic endeavour that it is.”
Elaborating on why this season’s fashion film takes us another step closer to the democratisation of fashion and the arts, he adds, “rag & bone has always been about that, it’s a democratic perspective. So why can’t the music be the hero? Why can’t the parkour guy be the hero? Those people just blend into the background, but I don’t really understand why.”
And while we won’t be seeing Marcus take a bow on a rag & bone catwalk at NYFW any time soon, finding original, authentic and challenging new ways to show his brand is reward enough. “I love bringing my perspective on life to not solely clothes but by being able to put together groups of like-minded people to work on a project that we are all personally invested in, and personally very proud of. That’s an amazing feeling.”
Photos: Max Farago and Marossa Kraxberger