Having shot for the likes of Yves Saint Laurent and Haute Coiffure Charlie Le Mindu, Chris Sweeney has cut a neat fit for himself as one of the new wave of faces blending fashion with film. His just-launched commission for Gucci’s makeover of the Fiat 500 is a mischievous marriage of handbags and head rests with a playful nod to the pure joy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Sweeney peeled himself away from a sea of petals on his latest White Lodge shoot for Galeries Lafayette to talk form, function and Oompah Lumpas.
What was the brief and how did the idea evolve?
We were initially asked to show the idea of two icons of Italian design coming together in an interesting way, and we were free to do whatever we liked which is always an exciting brief. I started thinking about industrialness of car design crossed with the very fashion, delicacy of Gucci and remembered Vac-Forming we used to do in DT class at school – it was my obsession for about twenty minutes, I loved that this big ugly industrial machine could make something so intricate and delicate and it felt right for this.
I also loved the idea of Fiat being ‘Guccied’ – how could you luxe-up a big oily exhaust? Or make an alloy wheel elegant? Then I thought about Charlie and The Chocolate Factory which I used to watch on repeat as a kid (and maybe sing along to….) and thought this would be perfect, why don’t we make a fashion version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
What was the most challenging part of uniting these two behemoths of Italian design?
Making Gucci items look like Fiat items was a really fun challenge and we got the AMAZING Kyle Bean on board to help us with that – check him out cos he is super duper clever. We spent an afternoon playing in the Gucci showroom (which was such a treat) looking at the items as shapes rather than shoes or handbags and thinking how we could translate high heels into the spokes of the alloys and use clutch bags to create elements of the dash board. It was really fun getting to play with all these beautiful fashion objects
You’ve shot for YSL and Charlie Le Mindu before – are you coming to think of yourself more as a fashion film director than a promo or commercials director?
Fashion films are great cos you normally don’t have much brief, you can just do what you like, which I love. I’m also obsessed with the relationship between music and visuals and I love how each of the three – fashion, music video and commercials – allow me to explore that in different ways so I’ll always do all three I hope.
Fashion films seem to be a growing niche at the moment. Why do you think this is?
Not sure really, but I have yet to be given any free clothes or a car as a result! Actually Stefano Pilati of YSL did give me a pair of shoes. Result.
What, for you, makes a good fashion film? Do you think it needs to speak to people who might not necessarily consider themselves fashion conscious?
I think a good fashion film has to be conceptual and fun! Not pretentious, that’s so boring isn’t it? Everything should be fun.
Fiat 500 by Gucci
Director: Chris Sweeney
Production company: White Lodge
Executive producer: Stephen Whelan
Producer: Roma Vaccaro
DoP: Justin Brown
1st AD: Jim Cole
Focus Puller: Karl Hui
Grip: Mark Morley
DIT/Camera: James Lewis
Loader: Andrew Bradley
Playback: Karl Taggart
Gaffer: Josedu Ruiz
Electricians: Josele Manuel, Cunquero Galvez, Mark Barhlem, Paul Brennan
Runner: Ethan Race
Motion Control: The Visual Effects Company
Art direction: Anna Rhodes
Prop design: Kyle Bean
Construction: Rob Griffin
Music: Chris Morphitiis at Major Tom
Editor: Darrn Baldwin, Final Cut
Post: Ally Burnett, Studio 66
Telecine: James Bamford, The Mill