Film festivals get refashioned

Armani, Prada, Gucci donate to good causes

Fashion and film have always flirted, but things are getting more intimate lately.

While luxury labels such as Chanel and Chopard hosted premieres — “Marie Antoinette” and “Hollywoodland,” respectively — and Max Mara has been a part of Women in Film’s annual Crystal and Lucy awards since 1996, designers are fashioning a much larger presence in Hollywood these days, particularly on the fest circuit.

At Cannes this year, Giorgio Armani made a major donation to Martin Scorsese‘s World Cinema Foundation, which preserves and restores film treasures.

Prada has its own foundation, created in 1993, which recognizes artists in all media, including film.

And the Gucci Group established its own film artist award in 2006. This year’s nod will be presented at the Venice Film Festival in September; nominees include Julian Schnabel, Lee Chang-Dond (director of “Secret Sunshine”), and Polish writer-director Piotr Uklanski.

“Fashion and film share a united purpose: drama and flair, emotion and passion,” says Gucci Group CEO and President Robert Polet. “It is simply an extension of our business goals to support these shared visions.”

Indeed, the fashion houses understand the value of having their names associated with any event that draws globally recognized celebs. Gucci’s splashy fete at Venice’s Palazzo Grassi will surely draw enough paparazzi to blind a fleet of gondoliers.

Chopard, the Swiss jewelry company that serves as an official sponsor of Cannes, knows that bedazzling stars like Penelope Cruz or Scarlett Johansson with diamonds and precious gems clearly pays off: With multiple red carpet premieres per day, Chopard gets almost as much exposure in the international press as a decade’s worth of Oscar coverage.

For producer Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca film festival, the two-year partnership Tribeca has shared with Chanel (among other sponsors) pays off for both sides. “A good movie has a good wardrobe,” Rosenthal says. “The partnership helps to broaden the audience and market for both of us.”

This year, Chanel also hosted a Tribeca dinner that drew fest attendees like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Kerry Washington. Both wore Chanel, natch.

For Louis Vuitton, a title sponsor of the Hawaii Film Fest, its collaboration is a chance to thank the company’s affluent Asian clientele with an opening night in-store cocktail reception. “Our customers get to mingle with stars,” says Sean Kim, the label’s senior marketing communications manager for Hawaii.

To many eyes, the fashion houses’ heavy courtship of the film world makes more sense, perhaps, than a match between, say, Dell Computers and the Deauville Film Fest.

And fashion’s touch is growing ever more ubiquitous. At the “Marie Antoinette” premiere party in Los Angeles, for instance, guests even munched on popcorn in bags emblazoned with Chanel’s iconic interlocking Cs logo.

Sno-Caps by Prada, anyone?

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