Style and content find a snug fit in “Catwalk,” a slick, surface look at the attractive veneer of the modeling biz. A slice-of-life chronicle of supermodel Christy Turlington at work in Milan, Paris and New York, pic is visual candy, with beautiful girls and fancy duds on display at all times. Viewer reaction will depend entirely upon interest in the subject, and item is probably not strong or incisive enough to earn it a secure theatrical toehold. Select TV slots look more promising.
Indie presentation from eminent photography world figure Daniel Wolf was produced in an unusual manner, with director-lenser Robert Leacock never meeting the man who actually assembled his footage — co-director and editor Milton Moses Ginsberg. The approach worked out well, as both Leacock’s restless, prowling camera style and Ginsberg’s fluid, graceful editing come off exceedingly well.
The subject, however, leaves something to be desired. No matter how close Leacock’s camera comes to Turlington, her model chums and the famous designers whose collections are shown off on the runway, pic is limited to the obvious externals of the fashion life. If one is fascinated by semi-candid glimpses of the likes of Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld and others displaying fragments of their notorious personalities, then one might be engaged throughout the docu. Audiences nonplused by this prospect would be happy with a film half the length.
For what it’s worth, Turlington seems like a good-natured, hard-working young woman and appears to accept the vicissitudes of this world of big egos, explosive tempers and petty intrigues with good humor.
First 20 minutes, film’s weakest, show Turlington and Naomi Campbell participating in the Gianni Versace and Giorgio Armani shows in Milan.
Pic picks up a little heat during the 50-minute Paris section, where what seems like the entire fashion world has convened for the showings of the major designers’ new collections. Again, little of a revelatory nature comes to light, but the sense of pressure, frantic activity and high stakes is nicely caught as the models are joined by such scene-makers as Sharon Stone and Jaye Davidson. Final New York episode is highlighted by the humorous, live-wire personality of Isaac Mizrahi.
The film might profitably have centered more on designers or photographers than on models who, after all, are the most interchangeable of the participants in this world. With Mizrahi, the filmmakers would seem to have found a subject worthy of a film, and, indeed, it has already been made, the Sundance docu hit “Unzipped.”
Gotham section also features fleeting glimpses of Turlington’s b.f., actor Christian Slater, which merely serve to emphasize that her personal life has been shielded from view. Nor does the viewer learn how much money the models make, how they compete and negotiate for jobs and so on, leaving lots of questions remaining about the subject after more than 90 minutes of film.
Those wanting more nuts-and-bolts info about the modeling biz, or titillation about naughty behind-the-scenes goings-on, will feel a bit frustrated by “Catwalk.” But those anxious to soak up the star-drenched atmosphere of the fashion world will get their fill here.
Pic alternates black-and-white and color in an arbitrary but agreeable enough way, and Malcolm McLaren’s disco-ish score suits the trendy ambiance.