French filmmaker Marcel L’Herbier was an unlucky man: he lost a finger when an ex-girlfriend shot him and then his sight when a TV camera fell on his head. But he also managed to become one of France’s most prominent avant-garde theorists and silent filmmakers. The 4th Fashion in Film Festival’s season at the BFI is dedicated to this innovative director, whose aim was to draw together architects, artists, couturiers and costume designers together at a time when using a variety of different media in film was unusual and difficult.
‘L’Argent‘ and ‘Le Vertige’ (his most famous films) epitomise the high-octane and well-heeled lifestyle of Paris in the 1920s. L’Herbier weaves together romantic intrigue and a no-expense-spared wardrobe from costume designer Jacques Manuel to create two highly watchable films still relevant to today’s audience. Manuel’s wardrobe contributed to the move from 1920’s waif-like fashion towards the ‘la ligne feminine ideale’, a curvier, and more womanly shape synonymous with the peacock dresses of the 1930s. As well as influencing female fashion trends, Monsieur L’Herbier could also be described as one of the first special effects directors. Ellie Ross
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