For the past few years we’ve been hearing more and more about fashion films and the new profession that has emerged as a result, that of the fashion filmmaker.
Although the new genre is still in its infancy and the festivals that have sprung up to celebrate and recognize work in the field haven’t quite hit the main stream, you can’t deny that we are witnessing a change in the way fashion is talked about.
On our never-ending quest to discover the latest and the most innovative people in the world of fashion, we’ve mentioned and interviewed Monica Menez and our dear friend Raúl Rosillo. This time we’ll be looking at another Spaniard, Jesús López (Gsus López), from Zamora. Living in London, this Zamora native caught our eye with his interesting stories with a dash of humor. Using homosexuality and transexuality as recurring themes, his fashion films are pointed, infectious and nuanced.
Gsus López by Olga Souri
It all started in Barcelona where he worked in 5-star hotels and surrounded himself with creative types. While there, he decided to study Fashion Media at the London College of Fashion and since then, his career has taken off and the effort and talent that he brings to the table are starting to pay off.
At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins we seek out daring talent and explosive imagination like that of Gsus López. We interviewed him and this is what he had to say about his work and future projects.
SO CATCHY!: Since you were a student at the London College of Fashion, your films have been winning awards and nominations on an international scale. Tell us about your first fashion film, “Ephemeral Nature”.
GSUS LÓPEZ: The first fashion film I made was towards the end of my first year and beginning of the second at university. I made “Ephemeral Nature” for a course called Creative Media. I wrote a story and I was interested in the fact that, as evidenced by other fashion films, people live out their fantasies through fashion. I wanted to craft a story that was the opposite.
The characters are a middle-aged married couple who dress up for society; their true costumes are the suits that they have to wear for work or social events. It’s the story of a rich couple that, when they arrive home, let their true selves. The wife becomes a dominatrix, a fetishist, and the man likes to dress in women’s clothes, he was a Drag Queen. In the end they disappear because I was intrigued by the idea that when people disappear, their objects stay behind and take on a magical character by the fact that they were worn by an actual person.
My professor, Tony Charalambous, pushed me to present the film to the ASVOFF (A Shaded View On Fashion Film Festival) that year, in 2012, which coincidentally was to take place in Barcelona. Diane Pernet, the creator and director of the festival, personally got in touch with me and told me that they were going to show the film in their Official Selection and a few weeks later I was invited to the awards ceremony. TO my surprise, I won the Grand Prix ASVOFF Barcelona for Best Film. Without even knowing it, I’d happened into the right moment in the right place doing the right thing, making fashion films. Until then, I’d been more interested in fashion photography or cinema, although more as a fan. My favorite directors are Pedro Almodóvar, Xavier Dolan and John Waters. I like much of their work and I connect with their stories and in my fashion films, I apply themes from the three of them, the stylized characters, the importance of fashion in their stories, etc. Thanks to ASVOFF and seeing that a film I’d made with my friends, with absolute creative liberty had reached a festival like that, with important people, I was able to meet Rossy de Palma, who did the music for It Melts two years later. These events and my professor who encouraged me to do the film and present it, I realized that I wanted to dedicate my life to telling stories though audiovisual media.‘EPHEMERAL NATURE’ a film by Gsus Lopez – Winner of Grand Prix ASVOFF Barcelona’12 for Best Film – from Gsus Lopez on Vimeo.
SC!: Let’s talk about another fashion film, “I am in (L)”.
GL: In the summer of 2012 while on holiday from university, I made a one-minute fashion film, a prerequisite for the Italian ASVOFF in Milan) called “I’m in (L)”. To make the film, I looked for a brand that I liked, “1205”, which is a luxury, unisex brand designed by Paula Gerbase, a graduate of the prestigious Central St. Martins. I wanted to write a story in which androgyny was the main theme and so I found a model who could play both a man and a woman, Jose Wickert. “I’m in (L)” tells the story of a boy and a girl who fall in love online and, in the end, meet up. The spectator knows that it’s the same person but the protagonists don’t find out until the end that they are two sides of the same person, the feminine and masculine side that had fallen in love with one another. The premiere was at ASVOFF Milan and it was nominated in the Fashion Film Festivals in Berlin and Madrid in 2013 for Best Emerging Talent. I went to both festivals to make contacts and they treated me well, I had a wonderful time. That same year, I was also given an award in Germany at the Transgender Film Festival for best short film.I’M IN (L) from Gsus Lopez on Vimeo.
SC!: You left audiences amazed with “It Melts”, which you did for Pigeons and Peacocks.
GL: I started to write the story at the beginning of 2013 but I didn’t get around to filming in until 2013. I knew that it was an ambitious film, that was going to be 5 minutes long, would need at least three days to shoot and would include special effects. I needed a budget and time to shoot it and finally it need three months of postproduction because the people I was working with at the time did the work at the weekends and in free moments. I think that most creative types are the same in that we do what we like to do, even if it means having to work other jobs and stay up until two in the morning after working all day.
In this fashion film I tried to present the idea to some big-name brands but it didn’t work out. I heard that the online magazine for the London College of Fashion, Pigeons and Peacocks, was looking for contributors. I wrote them an email saying that I was thinking of making a fashion film that I could adapt for their publication. They told me that hadn’t thought about this kind of collaboration but that they’d give it a shot. I’d also been a student there and fulfilled the requirements to contribute so I gave them a few scripts and they went for It Melts, which was the one I really wanted to shoot, and they produced it.
It’s been quite popular online and I was nominated for Best Emerging Talent for the second year in a row at the Berlin Fashion Film Festival 2014. The audience laughed a lot and applauded which for me was the best award. Interview Magazine Deutschland also chose it as one of the highlights of the event. The next festival it’s taking part in is the Australian International Fashion Film Festival in November.
SC!: The music for the fashion film is especially interesting.
GL: I did some research on a song I liked called ‘Calor’ by G-Swing which featured Rossy de Palma.
I wanted a splash of happiness in the film, something humorous and the soundtrack turned out perfect with Rossy’s touch. I had met Rossy at ASVOFF Barcelona and got in touch with her about the song. She put me in touch with the record company and, thanks to her, they helped me through the process of getting the authors rights from Universal Records France. I hope to work with her as an actress in some future project.‘IT MELTS’ a film by Gsus Lopez for Pigeons & Peacocks Magazine // with music by G-Swing feat. Rossy de Palma from Gsus Lopez on Vimeo.
SC!: Later came “OUT”, your first short film that wasn’t about fashion, it was more ambitious and we were lucky enough to be among the few to see it!
GL: “OUT” was my final project for my degree at the London College of Fashion. It was my own decision to take on such a big project; it was the most expensive and longest I’d done up to that time. I had to finance it independently through a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. The film was 16 and a half minutes and is totally different than the fashion films I’d made up to then. It truly is a short film. All the films I’d worked on had a story but the script for “OUT” was a collection of stories that I’d heard or witnessed. It’s about a boy who comes out to his mother in a traditional, small British town, although it could be anywhere. It follows the reactions of the mother in the first hours of shock. Drama and comedy go hand in hand and there are musical moments and moments of horror. I only showed it once, at the university, with my classmates and professors, and once more to the team that helped put it together. It’s not online because I’m submitting it to larger festivals and an important requirement is that it can’t be shown online. Up till now, it’s been selected for the International Queer Film Festival Merlinka 2014, in Serbia and at the Kiev International Queer Film Festival 2015, in Ukraine. I hope that it’s well received at the festivals!
SC!: And, finally, there’s “Art of Dress”, the first film that was 100% made to order, for the London College of Fashion.
GL: They got in touch with us through Twitter explaining that they wanted me to make a film for some dresses called “Art of Dress”. It was a bit hectic, made in less than two weeks, from the idea to the script to organizing the team and finally three intense days of postproduction. They wanted to present it at an exhibition that was opening in New York to try and attract new students to the London College of Fashion. The dresses were peculiar in that they were all made by current and former students of the school and are inspired in the past, from the Middle Ages up to the 18th century. It’s like a retelling of history through clothes.ART OF DRESS from Gsus Lopez on Vimeo.
SC!: Where does your love for the fashion come from?
GL: My first memories of fashion are from childhood. My grandmother and my mother were very careful to instill in me the importance of good shoes and fabric; they insisted on buying clothes that were high quality.
When I was a child, I would spend my afternoons with my best friend, Leticia, going through all type of magazines: Vogue, Fotogramas, any specials, and I remember being with her and commenting on the collections, the photographs, the ads and even films. We were dreamers. The music videos on MTV that we watched also had a big impact on me.
So I was always a big fan of fashion and cinema, but more as a hobby. I never thought that I’d do this for a living. When I lived in Barcelona and was working as a receptionist at the Hotel Casa Fuster, which is an amazing place, very luxurious, I had the opportunity to meet Carolina Herrera, M. Prada, models, actors, etc. Seeing that they were indeed normal people made me think that maybe I could also be part of this world in some way. Little by little I got more involved with the creative types in my circle of friends, I photographed them in my room in Barcelona, and that’s how I got my start.
SC!: Fashion Films belong to a relatively new genre and we’ve seen many different definitions of what is and isn’t a fashion film. What’s your definition?
GL: That’s difficult to say because it’s all so new and there are various kinds. I can tell you what, in my opinion, isn’t a fashion film, videos of models moving and looking at the camera. They don’t say anything, aren’t very creative despite the fashion and are made to sell a product. I don’t think they are good, it’s like watching a making-of of a photo shoot.
In order to have an element of film, they must have a story with characters that have a marked style and personality through fashion. But most importantly, it’s got to tell a story, otherwise it isn’t a film.
Scene from “OUT” by Gsus López
SC!: Do you always work with the same actors?
GL: Not always, it depends on the characters. I do, however, have an actor I am infatuated with because he is so incredibly talented, Jeff Kristian. He’s like a chameleon; he can work as a woman and a man and is the main character of “Ephemeral Nature”. He also has a cameo in “It Melts” as an ice-cream salesman and he’s the main character in “OUT”, where for the first time he plays a woman named Mary. He’s actually a Drag Queen and a professional actor in the cabaret soho, called ‘Molly Moggs’.
The star of “It Melts”, Keira Duffy, is also in Art of Dress as the lady who helps dress the queen. And Jose Wickert, the star of “I’m in (L)” is briefly in “It Melts” and “OUT”. The queen for “Art of Dress”, Holly Weston, is a popular British actress from the TV series Hollyoaks and she also did a film with Madonna in 2008.
SC!: What is the style that defines your fashion films?
GL: I don’t know, I’ve never been asked that before. I guess I could say that there are repeated elements: surrealism, a sense of humor and sexuality. I also love to show both my imagination and that of the characters.
SC!: There are some recurring themes, like homosexuality and transexuality.
GL: I’m interested in these themes because I’m gay and because I think that in the world of fashion, there are a lot of gay people, as well as in cinema and other artistic disciplines. I don’t know why, it might be because we have different sensibilities, but I connect to these types of stories.
I also feel that I’m doing something good by giving these stories a voice. I don’t think there are enough of them out there and that society is too chauvinist in general.
SC!: Define “fashion” as you live it.
GL: For me, fashion is a lifestyle. It doesn’t have to be the clothes specifically, but it forms a part of society, an urban tribe, or the neighborhood you live in. And, above all, it means change and the chance to exist. It’s in constant evolution, constant renewal and it helps you reinvent yourself as a person.
SC!: A designer you like a lot.
GL: Jean Paul Gaultier, his entire career. Iris Van Herpen, I like her futuristic ‘haute couture’. I like futuristic designers in general, not because I like to wear their clothes but I love how different they are. They are true works of art.
There are also some women in London who have a brand called Nympha who’s work I’ve been interested in lately. I’d love to do a fashion film for them.
SC!: And where do you buy your clothes?
GL: It depends but I like Topman a lot, charity and vintage shops. I also love Dr Martens; when I destroy one pair, I buy another.
SC!: What are you up to now?
SC!: What blogs or fashion websites are you interested in?
GL: I like books and always have one on my bedside table but I also follow blogs like ASVOF by Diane Pernet. She’s got a critical voice that is different, she always finds new artists and designers. I love how she acts a bit like a fairy godmother for new talents in photography, cinema, fashion and art.
Keira Duffy in “It Melts” by Gsus López
SC!: At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins we love inspiration.
GL: I’m inspired by books, paintings, photography and people I see on the street. At times, it comes to me suddenly, like when I was writing “It Melts”, I remember that I was on the underground and a girl in front of me started eating a chocolate crepe, and a few drops of chocolate fell on her bag and she ignored it. I thought that if the bag were really important and valuable either economically or sentimentally, she’d have reacted differently. From there, I decided to make a film where the protagonist loves a bag and tries to do everything possible to save it before things get out of hand.
In this case, the bag was by Tae Seok Kang and you can buy it on Not Just A Label. The rest of the articles were chosen and created by the stylist Viktorija Balankevic, who I’ve worked with on various occasions. It’s called a “Booby Bag” because it has different boobs. Tae Seok Kang is in Florence now working for Alberta Ferreti.
And sometimes I find inspiration in the films I watch.
SC!: What do you miss about Spain?
GL: My family and friends.
SC!: What do you think about Monica Menez’s work?
GL: I love her work because it fulfills all of the requirements that I think a fashion film should have. Her films have got stories and a sense of humor. They’re intelligent and, stylistically and technically, they’re perfect. I think she’s on a much higher level than I am; she’s represented in different countries and does work for important brands. You can see the production and the money involved but I’m sure that with only a camera, it would come out just as good.
SC!: Where do you think the future of fashion media is going?
GL: I think that there is too much information and too many images. Everything is so immediate and I think people are going to get tired of it. We are already very selective of what we want to see and the trend is towards specialization, websites that are more specific, like So Catchy!, with a specialized group of readers.
We’re becoming snobs when it comes time to decide what we want to consume, online as well. As for fashion films, I think I’ll put myself out there and say that they are going to do away with fashion shoots. You can already select frames from films for ads and printed editorials.
All images and videos courtesy of Gsus López
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla