Luca Guadagnino has teamed up with Italian designer Pierpaolo Piccioli, creative director of the Valentino fashion house, to make a short movie fusing the aesthetics of film and haute couture and featuring an A-list cast comprising Julianne Moore, Kyle MacLachlan, Marthe Keller, KiKi Layne, Mia Goth and Alba Rohrwacher.
The 35-minute film, portraying different chapters in a woman’s life through the prism of her relationship with her mother, is not a commercial for Valentino, the partners said. Instead, it’s an art movie in which haute couture becomes part of the narrative, Guadagnino said. “The ambition is to play in an important film festival,” said the director of “Call Me by Your Name” and “Suspiria,” with the hope that in some countries it will end up in movie theaters.
Besides an A-list cast, the still-untitled work – which is produced by Italy’s Rai Cinema, Valentino, Ibla Film, and Guadagino’s Frenesy Film shingle – boasts a soundtrack composed by Oscar-winner Ryuichi Sakamoto and a screenplay by Michael Mitnick, whose credits include the TV series “Vinyl” and drama “The Current War.” Guadagnino’s regular cinematographer, Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, shot the short on 35mm film. The producer is Ibla Film’s Eleonora Pratelli.
Rai’s RAI Com sales unit will be selling it internationally.
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Guadagnino said the idea was “to use a haute couture collection as though it were a literary text.” Piccioli, who designed the costumes and had a hand in the creative process, said that “each dress is a different story” based on its emotional connection to the dressmaker and that the film has “a stream-of-consciousness aesthetic.”
Moore plays Francesca, an Italian-American writer who lives in New York and must return to Rome – and, by extension, her childhood – to retrieve her aging mother, a painter played at different ages by Keller (“The Romanoffs”) and Goth (“Suspiria”). Layne (“If Beale Street Could Talk”) plays “the spark that triggers the stream of consciousness in Francesca,” said Guadagnino, while Rohrwacher (“Happy as Lazzaro”) plays “a grande dame at a party.”
All the male characters – “fathers, lovers, servants,” Guadagnino noted – are played by MacLachlan (“Twin Peaks”).
“There are multiple narratives that are told simultaneously in the piece,” said Mitnick who added that when Moore’s character returns to her childhood home in Rome to retrieve her aging mother, “we enter and exit various storylines over the course of their entire relationship.” But these stories are “told on top of each other” rather than being flashbacks.
Mitnick said that the stream-of-consciousness style was “a way to capture the feel of memory on film.” He also recalled that before he started writing, Piccioli told him “a beautiful anecdote about how each of the dressmakers named their own dresses after what they reminded them of. And many of them were individual memories that went back to their childhood.”
Guadagnino cited other examples of collaborations between auteurs and fashion designers: Luis Buñuel’s 1967 film “Belle de Jour,” for which Yves Saint-Laurent created an entire wardrobe for Catherine Deneuve’s character, and Takeshi Kitano’s “Dolls,” in which the whole vision of the film was a collaboration with Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. But Guadagnino said his approach differs in that the story is based on Piccioli’s haute couture collection, which is made up of “magnificent creations that transcend commerce and the consumer aspect of fashion.”