Diane Pernet in Montreal: We talk style on film, local designers and more with fashion’s original blogger

Diane Pernet
Photography by Emilie Gan

Diane Pernet
Photography by Emilie Gan

On the coattails of its debut during Paris Fashion Week, A Shaded View of Fashion Film continued its globetrotting festival tour in Montreal this past weekend. Founded by Paris-based American Diane Pernet—often regarded as the original fashion blogger— the now yearly event held court at Excentris Cinema where an ASVOFF retrospective was screened before both fashion and film industry players.

In between visits with designers Marie Saint Pierre, Denis Gagnon and Duy Nguyen and a shopping break at Les Créateurs, we caught up with Pernet during this Canadian leg of her tour to learn more about the festival and (how could we resist?) to pick the fashion icon’s brain.

What makes a great fashion film?
“The same things that make a great film. Is it personal? Does it take you somewhere that you have never been? How is the story built? The art direction? The acting? And is it better to use actors and not models? How is the editing? The sound design? You know, all the elements that make any film a good one.”

Why did you decide to start a fashion film festival?
“Maybe the idea was born when I was the costume designer in the early ‘90s on an Amos Gitai film and I understood that directors were afraid of costume designers. I am interested in the intersection between fashion and film and how one supports the other. I studied film in university, and then I was a designer for my own brand for 13 years in NYC. And in 2006, I launched my first fashion film festival with a collaborator. It was called You Wear it Well.

In 2008 ASVOFF was launched at Jeu du Paume and since 2009 it has been launched every year at Centre Pompidou. In 2006 Mark Eley of Eley Kishimoto commissioned me to make a road movie for the launch of his menswear brand. It was a 16-minute film called Adventure of Pleasure. My collaborator in Los Angeles asked me if I wanted to screen it in L.A. and the following day my correspondent in Mexico City sent me his film, which was a fashion film, and with that I decided instead of just screening my film, why not make a festival.”

Your career has evolved on many different levels, from designer to Dr. Diane to international blogger. After all that you’ve absorbed over the years, what excites you most about fashion?
“What excites me most is putting the two genres together and making a festival and building it each year and trying to find ways to help promote directors and hence fashion designers.”

I saw you at Rad Hourani’s show room for his Spring 2014 collection. Do you know and like any other Montreal designers? 
“Aside from Rad, whose collection I really appreciate, I visited a few local designers today that I enjoyed. First it was Denis Gagnon who has an interesting way to cut and use textiles. I liked the volumes and his use of zippers was quite original. Marie Saint-Pierre had well-cut timeless pieces and Duy reminded me of pieces that would suit Daphne Guinness.”

Any other Canadian designers?
“Aside from them, and I’m not sure if Thomas Tait is from Montreal or Toronto [He’s from Montreal!], but I like his minimal cuts. I like Erdem for his prints and David Szeto is a designer from [Vancouver] Canada that has lived in Paris for about 20-plus years and now in Brussels and I love the way he cuts. He designs all of my skirts and most of my shirts.”