×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Sundance Film Review: ‘Fresh Dressed’

Sacha Jenkins makes his directorial debut with a docu examining the rise and fall of fashion lines influenced by hip-hop music.

With:
Dapper Dan, Kanye West, Damon Dash, Karl Kani, Nas Jones, Pharrell Williams, Andre Leon Talley, Todd Boyd, Christopher "Kid" Reid, Christopher "Play" Martin.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4209900/

An emphasis on style over substance is a comfortable fit for “Fresh Dressed,” a snazzy docu portrait of hip-hop’s influence on the fashion world. Focused specifically on the ’80s origins, ’90s boom and ’00s collapse of a particular strain of flamboyant, graffiti-colored, oversized sartorial statement making, the directorial debut of journalist Sacha Jenkins doesn’t provide much in the way of fresh insight into the topic it’s covering. But the breezily likable pic benefits from an underexposed topic and solid execution. Picked up by Samuel Goldwyn Films and StyleHaul post-Sundance bow, this CNN Films presentation will likely find limited buyers in theaters before connecting with a broader customer base via smallscreen exposure.

Jenkins opens with an amusing vintage TV clip featuring a young man and woman happily showing off their fat laces, Kangol hats and fresh B-boy looks. He makes it clear from the get-go that dressing “fresh” (looking like a million bucks, even if you’re dirt-poor) has to do with both establishing a personal identity and pursuing an aspirational lifestyle. USC professor Todd Boyd and style guru Andre Leon Talley take a historical perspective, tying the relationship between clothes and music in the African-American community to dressing for church, as well as icons of self-expression like Little Richard.

While punk rock had its own trends, the hip-hop explosion was notable for bringing an infusion of playfulness and bold colors — following the lead of street art and making high fashion accessible beyond the prototypical Ralph Lauren types. To that end, Jenkins briefly dips into the story of Harlem businessman Dapper Dan who popularized a “luxury urban brand” (or, in his words, took designer clothing and “blackenized it”).

Dapper Dan never went mainstream, but many who followed in his path did. From Karl Kani to Sean Combs’ wildly popular and award-winning Sean John line, so-called “urban” clothing eventually became so pervasive that major department stores could no longer turn a blind eye and deny it space on their racks. (And one particularly hilarious archival clip reminds auds of Channing Tatum’s past as a Sean John model.)

For some reason LL Cool J, held up as a pivotal figure in giving urban clothing a media boost, isn’t interviewed on camera. Neither is Will Smith, despite his highly influential “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” wardrobe. But many other hip-hop stars past and present are, including Pharrell Williams, Nas (also a producer) and Kid ‘n Play.

Ultimately, the brands became a victim of their own success. The market grew oversaturated, thanks in no small part to poorly executed vanity lines tied to rap stars like Eminem, and the fickle fashion pendulum swung in another direction. Today’s hip-hop stars like Kanye West favor long-established luxury brands from Versace to Yves Saint Laurent, leaving other designers out of the mix.

Although Jenkins keeps the pic bouncing along at a steady pace, aided by Hectah Arias’ whimsical animated interludes, a deeper dive into certain areas — or individuals, like Dapper Dan — may have provided a heft the film ultimately lacks. For all the emphasis on individual style, the smoothly assembled “Fresh Dressed” plays more like a catalog of highlights than a work of singular self-expression.

Sundance Film Review: 'Fresh Dressed'

Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (Documentary Premieres), Jan. 25, 2015. Running time: 84 MIN.

Production: (Documentary) A CNN Films presentation of a Mass Appeal production. Produced by Peter Bittenbender, Nasir Jones, Marcus A. Clarke. Executive producers, Vinnie Malhorta, Amy Entelis.

Crew: Directed by Sacha Jenkins. Camera (color, HD), David Vollrath; editor, Andrea B. Scott; music, Tyler Strickland; music supervisor, Mina Louy; sound, Rick Cardone; supervising sound editors, Tom Efinger, Colin Thibadeau; re-recording mixer, Efinger; animation, Hectah Arias; associate producer, Alex Wright; second unit camera, Kyle Wullschleger.

With: Dapper Dan, Kanye West, Damon Dash, Karl Kani, Nas Jones, Pharrell Williams, Andre Leon Talley, Todd Boyd, Christopher "Kid" Reid, Christopher "Play" Martin.

More Film

  • The Favourite Black Panther

    Audience for Best Picture Nominees Most Diverse in Years, Report Shows

    Theatergoers for Academy Awards best picture-nominated films have become younger and more diverse over the past four years, a report released exclusively to Variety showed. Movio, which specializes in cinema marketing data analytics, said the changes in demographic shifts correspond to the best picture lineup becoming more diverse since the 2015 Oscars, when the #OscarsSoWhite [...]

  • Emma Thompson

    Emma Thompson Exits Skydance Animation Movie 'Luck' Over John Lasseter Hire

    Emma Thompson has dropped out of the voice cast of Skydance Animation’s upcoming film “Luck,” a spokesperson for the actress told Variety. The beloved British star did some recording for the project, but dropped out in January, following John Lasseter’s hire to the top animation job at David Ellison’s studio, an insider close to the [...]

  • Daniel Kaluuya Lakeith Stanfield

    Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield in Talks to Star in Film About Black Panther Party Leader

    Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield are in negotiations to star in the historical drama “Jesus Was My Homeboy” about Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. The project is set up at Warner Bros. with “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler producing along with Charles King through his Marco production company. Executive producers are Sev Ohanian, Zinzi [...]

  • Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue

    Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue Biopic 'The Dirt'

    Netflix has dropped the first trailer for its Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” — based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling history of the legendarily bad-behaved ‘80s metal icons — and it looks like the film pulls no punches in terms of the band’s famously sordid history. In this two-minute trailer, we get glimpses of singer Vince [...]

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

  • Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA For

    Vue International Chief Slams BAFTA for Awarding Prizes to 'Roma'

    Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of Vue International, one of the largest cinema chains in Europe, has slammed the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for awarding prizes to Netflix’s “Roma.” Alfonso Cuaron’s black-and-white film, which is also up for several Oscars, won four BAFTAs at the awards ceremony in London on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content