Raúl Rosillo has been busy lately with the premiere of his latest fashion film, Perfidia, in conjunction with the Andaluz designer Beatriz Peñalver, which was shown at the Samsung EGO platform of the recent Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Madrid.
And as we sit here in the afterglow, it’s time to digest, analyze and admire the wonder he has created from another perspective. Perfidia is a perfect symbiosis between surrealism and fashion, it’s an imaginarium, it’s a moment filled with meaning and folklore. The mark of this talented young professional from Algeciras can be found on all of his work and once again, with the help of Beatriz Peñalver, we here at So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins have been blown away by his dream universe.
SO CATCHY!: Where did the idea for Perfidia come from?
RAÚL ROSILLO: The origin of this idea goes way back. One year ago I was invited to a gypsy wedding, thanks to my friend Mariana. It was an honor for me because, as you know, payos (non-gypsies) aren’t usually allowed to come to these types of events. It was a traditional gypsy wedding with more than 700 guests and I was there, to the side, watching very respectfully. From that moment, I felt the need to represent what I had seen and experienced there through video. I’ve been going over the idea in my head since then, thinking about gypsy culture, the sugared-almonds and everything else. I was deeply touched by the wedding, with all of the men throwing the different colored sugared-almonds, and the women picking them up. I was also deeply impacted by the yeli (part of the virginity ceremony) and so I’d been going over these themes for a year and thinking about the feeling of happiness when the bride comes back after the pañuelo during the event. Beatriz Peñalver pushed me to develop the idea further and so we got down to work. I wrote the script, did the drawings, developed the esthetic, etc. It’s the story of the two mothers, the couple, the mothers of the two girls, all with a Lorquian influence. Many people have realized that Lorca has influenced my profoundly, works like Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba. I wanted to express the role of Bernarda through the two mothers as well, and to reflect a normal Spanish family situation, as if homosexuality had always been accepted in this country; the history of Spain would be different in that universe. The two incredibly elegant and extremely andaluza women have a touch of Almodóvar and you can tell that they come from the country, they’re a bit tacky. This establishes the relationship with the two daughters who are their exact opposites, and then there’s the love triangle.
SC!: Homosexuality in the gypsy world is still a taboo topic in this day and age. What did it mean to you to introduce something so controversial in your video, and to do it so naturally?
RR: Well the truth is that it exists. Since I was young, I’ve always been connected to the Gypsy community; I’ve always felt a passion for it. And [homosexuality] is not very obvious but you know it’s there. The topic is very taboo but I wanted to give it my own personal touch, not only with the young women but also with the mothers who, like many gypsy women, are ‘friends’ or ‘aunties’ to the children but in reality they’re a couple.
SC!: Why did you choose to call the fashion-film Perfidia?
RR: Perfidia (perfidy) comes from treachery, like when one side raises the white flag of surrender in a war and the other side, right at that moment, attacks. It’s an exaggerated kind of betrayal, like family betrayal, your mother, your sister or your spouse. As for the mothers, even though I left it up in the air in the film, in the original script, when they say “Your sister, your own sister”, they aren’t arguing with the sister, it’s the bride, on the day of her wedding, saying “Mama, I think my spouse is fooling around with my sister” and the mother respond, “You are crazy, you’re crazy, she’s your sister, your own sister.” I wanted that to be ambiguous, not very clear.
SC!: Tell us about the casting, the actors fit their roles and play them to perfection. How did you fill the roles?
RR: Macarena Pérez, the bride, is a contact of mine. Our story is actually pretty interesting; she came to the presentation of ‘LUZ’ by Leandro Cano in the Magda Belloti Gallery, here in Madrid, in September 2012. I had been following a girl on Instagram for some time because I loved her her look. I saw her and I thought to myself, “That’s got to be her, it has to be”, so I went up to her and she already knew me and had been following my work as well. It was a wonderful coincidence.
Mariam Agreadano came through Quino Amado, the make-up artist, we were thinking of a few different women but Quino introduced us to Mariam. The mothers came through Bea, I had already thought of using two different women who were quite a bit older. Yvania, Bea’s sister, is good friends with Susana Walls, the actress who played the villain in Torrente, and Eloisa Martín, who was the pianist in Parada, lives in Almuñecar so Bea knew her. And then there’s Enriq Liaño; originally, we were going to use another famous actor but he had to go to a casting in London so I thought about Enriq and we called him two days before shooting. The other guy, the dancer who appears in the love triangle, is the presenter of ‘La Copla Kids’, Agustín Barajas. Everyone was very involved in the project; they worked hard and believed in the idea behind it. It made everything go much smoother and was a great experience.
SC!: Since you’ve mentioned the dancer, what does the dream-like sequence represent?
RR: The dancer dances to the sounds of her anguish. It is dream-like, everything happens without her even noticing.
SC!: We know that you are very meticulous with each and every detail that appears in your videos, tell us about the choice of locations for Perfidia.
RR: I want to make it clear that Beatriz Peñalver helped enormously with that, and she was involved in many aspects including location scouting. In Granada, the provincial government offered us various public spaces and palaces but we realized that shooting was going to be impossible. There were 5 palaces that we wanted to use and every scene was in a different one. Bea knew about the Gomera Gardens, a private park that fit all of our needs; we could shoot everything there, so we rented it and we did. As for the rest of the locations, Salobreña, the river where the celebration takes place, is a riverbed without any flowing water, really, because of a dam further upstream. That was great, we were driving around the old motorway to Motril, which goes from Almuñecar to Granada, looking for places to shoot and suddenly we stopped the car and scaled down a cliff and I said “Here, I love it here”. Getting there was very complicated; there was a meter high wall that children and older people had to cross get there. The motorway was also complicated, there was a curve and we had to stop traffic. The extras in the film are people from Almuñecar, Gypsies and friends of Bea and her sister. We did a casting a few days before to choose the right people.
SC!: And the crew behind the camera? Your good friend Dafne Chalatsakos was there, what was that like?
RR: This was the first time that I‘d worked with such a great team all at once, from beginning to end and they were all amazing professionals. I’ve always worked with interesting people but this time I felt very comfortable because one of my best friends did the producing. Dafne Chalatsakos is a producer in Milan, she does Master Chef and shows on Tele5. She has a wonderful job and is one of the best producers I know and, luckily, fate allowed us to work together on this project. I can tell you now that she is going to be my producer from this moment forward, for the rest of my life. She is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with; she’s an incredible professional, and our friendship helped. She knew what to say when I was nervous, and she knew how to control me. If I needed anything she was there, it was a great combo. Ivania Peñalver, Beatriz’s sister who lives in Luxemburg and also works in production, was there hand in hand with Bea for everything. Her holidays in Almuñecar with her children coincided with the shoot, so in the end she didn’t have any free time. Claudia, Bea’s younger sister, also helped us out a lot. Truthfully, Bea’s family, friends and neighbors all lent us a hand. Many of them got involved and were amazing professionals. My team in the future is set, Dafne, Antonio, who does camera and electrician’s work, Sergio Díaz who did the making of, my make-up artist Quino Amador, and Ismael Espejo on hair. I also plan to continue working with Beatriz Peñalver, she brings so much to the table, and it allows me to be truly creative in my work. The working environment was amazing, I felt support and respect. It’s important to know what everyone is doing on this kind of project; good ideas come from people with good teams behind them. If you water your ideas down with too many opinions then they lose their value. The team members provide their thoughts, they help you see things more clearly in certain situations, but there should only be one director.
So it’s nice to feel that people are betting on you and putting their necks on the line so you can make what you want. We spent three days shooting and the most I slept on any of them was two hours. The first day we shot interiors, the second was the wedding and the third day was the sea. There were also three weeks of pre-production and two weeks of editing.
SC!: Another aspect that you pay close attention to is the music. In this fashion film, there is a lot of Flamenco as well as choir music.
RR: I knew that I wanted to include the ‘yeli’, and so I wanted a choir. The main idea was for the choir to sing in the water and to pick up the bride, but that was too much, I’ll have to do it on another occasion. Pablo Guerrero, one of the most important choir directors in Spain, was deeply involved in the project and enthusiastic about performing the ‘yeli’ with the different choir voices. All of them were women, which was important to bring everything together. We locked ourselves in the studio, recorded everything and that was that. I knew what I wanted, where to put the sounds and all. The music at the end was a suggestion from Pablo, I had given him some instructions, something sad, we were going to use an Antonio Machado piece, but in the end he did what he did and it was perfect. Pablo, the choir, the Flamenco singer, the technician and the guitarist all did amazing work.
SC!: Props, make-up, hair, everything is perfect down to the last detail.
RR: Yes, everything. I had the sketches of everything I wanted and we did everything on the spot. Ismael Espejo was in charge of hair and he had an enormous effect on the production. He was able to bring everything to life. If the film receives any awards for hair, like Quimera did, Ismael will be receiving the award. He’s a wonderful guy who, at 20, is already making waves; he listens to other people’s advice and learns quickly. Quino Amador, the make-up artist, also did an incredible job. As for the props, you know how I am, four days before the shoot I got some spray paint and, together with Bea, her sisters, friends and a team of people who were helping out, we did everything.
SC!: You even contributed to the design of some of the pieces in Beatriz Peñalver’s collection, how did that come about?
RR: As I said, the theme had an enormous effect on me, the colorful sugar-coated almonds from the gypsy wedding are visually very strong and I wanted to use that to connect her collection ‘Perdón’ with the ‘Perfidia’ video, so I helped with create one of the patterns. Beatriz made an exclusive piece for me using it; it’s the only piece in the collection for men.
SC!: What projects are you looking at next?
RR: Right now I’m preparing another multi-brand fashion video, another fashion film that I’m going to finish abroad with Dafne as well, but I can’t tell you much more. For the film, I’ve already written the script and though of everything, I only need 120,000€. When I find that, I’ll make it. I want to do it, I want it to come out well and I want to present it in festivals, so if there are any producers who are interested, let me know (laughs)!
I’m also working on my website, which should be up soon, once I get settled again in Madrid, I’ll get down to work.
SC!: And finally, are there any young designers who you would like to work with?
RR: Right now I’m talking to the girl you introduced me to at South 36.32N this year, Alejandra Jaime Mendoza, ‘Maria Magdalena’. I’ve also been in touch with Ernesto Naranjo and we’ve been talking about a video but haven’t had time to do anything yet.
Photos courtesy of Raúl Rosillo and Lourdes Rodríguez for So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla