Bel Jacobs and Marketa Uhlirova Talk Fashion, Film and Art History

Read an interview with Fashion in Film’s Director Marketa Uhlirova, reflecting on the festival’s decade of existence and plans for the forthcoming season, co-curated with cinema historian Tom Gunning.

10 Years of Fashion in Film Festival

We celebrate our 10th Anniversary with the most ambitious festival season yet. Entitled Wearing Time: Past, Present, Future, Dream, it is curated by the festival’s director Marketa Uhlirova and eminent cinema and media scholar Tom Gunning.

The festival will  launch in March 2017 across major London venues including The Barbican, Curzon cinemas, Central Saint Martins, Rio, Prince Charles Cinema, Picturehouse Cinema, The Horse Hospital and The Hoxton.

With a rich programme of films, talks, discussions, performances and an exhibition, the season explores the ways in which film and fashion draw on one another as a means to represent, embody and visualise time.
The season asks what concrete manifestations of time fashion and clothing enable: what kind of chronologies and histories? What origins and memories? Echoes and shadows? Projections, visions or premonitions? Fashion’s own relation to time may be vital and intimate, but it is far from transparent. Film, the art of time passing, helps illuminate some of its complexities.

Film highlights will include Sergei Parajanov’s recently restored masterpiece Color of Pomegranates (1969), Sam Wood’s Beyond the Rocks (1922) starring Gloria Swanson and Rudolf Valentino and featuring a live score by Stephen Horne, Max Ophüls’ opulent extravaganza Lola Montes (1955), Michelle Handelman’s homage to the silent film actress Musidora in Irma Vep: the Last Breath (2013/15) and Leos Carax’s Holy Motors (2012), an outrageously bold meditation on the manufacture of identity in an age of modern media.

The full programme will be published in January. If you would like to partner with us, please get in touch with Marion Saurel:

Festival Highlights

brochure for web

In collaboration with Fashion Project BHS, our Miami festival hosted ten screenings, talks and discussion events over four days this January. The screenings included Jun Ichikawa’s Tony Takitani (2004), Max Ophüls’ Lola Montes (1955), Joseph Cornell’s Rose Hobart (1936), Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens (1975), Farah Khan’s Om Shanti Om (2007), Chao-ti Ho’s My Fancy High Heels (2010), and numerous shorts by artists including Cindy Sherman, Michelle Handelman, Jessica Mitrani, Jiri Barta and Lernert & Sander. Here are some of the highlights:

cathy & opening night

Fashion Project Director Cathy Leff introducing the festival & Fashion Project Space.


Kate Sinclair introducing the festival. Curators Marketa Uhlirova and Tom Gunning in conversation about cinema, fashion and time.

Our latest festival in Miami


28 January – 31 January 2016

In partnership with Fashion Project at Bal Harbour Shops, Miami.

The four-day festival is co-curated by Tom Gunning and Marketa Uhlirova and explores cinema’s fascination with the abstract relationship between fashion and time. Through celebrated classics, newsreels, documentaries, fashion films and artist films, this program explores cinematic clothing as a vehicle of reconnecting the past with the present and the future. The programme asks what concrete manifestations of time fashion and clothing enable in film: What kind of chronologies and histories? Origins and memories? Echoes and shadows? Projections, visions, or premonitions?

Full Programme

Download the brochure here

Most Beautiful Swiss Books of 2014

We are proud to announce that our latest publication, Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle, has been awarded one of the prestigious “Most Beautiful Swiss Books of 2014″ prizes! Join us to celebrate at the award ceremony and exhibition opening in Zurich on June 25th.

Our book will be displayed alongside other winners in an exhibition which will tour locations including Helmhaus in Zurich, Centre Culturel Suisse in Paris, Kunsthalle in Basel, Institut Curatorial de la HEAD in Geneva as well as venues in cities including Tokyo and Milan.

For more information please visit

Frame by frame: Dissecting the fashion moving image now. The 5th Fashion in Film Festival


The programme, curated by Hywel Davies and Marketa Uhlirova, was a vibrant series of panels and conversations designed to explore the recent rise of the moving image in the fashion industry.

It was held between 17–24 March 2015 in London’s Central Saint Martins, Somerset House and Hackney Picture House, and featured over 25 acclaimed industry practitioners and commentators, including Nick Knight, Caryn Franklin, Lernert & Sander, Quentin Jones, Caroline Evans, Alex Fury, Jessica Mitrani, Stephen Whelan, Marcus Werner Hed, Kathryn Ferguson, Jennifer Byrne, Nick Rees-Roberts, Pamela Church-Gibson, Oriole Cullen, Agnes Rocamora and more.

We are planning to make some of these conversations public, so watch this space!

Full programme

In Conversation: Alistair O’Neill on Guy Bourdin and Film

As a major retrospective exhibition of Guy Bourdin’s work opens at Somerset House, co-curator Alistair O’Neill shares thoughts on his own curatorial process, the photographer’s legacy and those elusive ‘fashion films’. Read here.

A Conversation with Mariann Lewinsky

Read our conversation with the brilliant and passionate film curator Mariann Lewinsky, one of the treasures of Bologna’s annual festival Il Cinema Ritrovato. Back in July this year we asked Mariann about her archival research, silent film performances and acting and, of course, fashion. With Caroline Evans, Marketa Uhlirova, Vincenzo Maggitti, Elif Rongen and Elizabeth Lundén.

Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle – Reviews and Awards.


The New Museum’s top of BEST BOOKS of 2014

Judith Mackrell’s review of the book for The Guardian

Pamela Hutchinson’s review for Silent London

AnOther magazine

Bright Lights Film Journal.

The book is edited by Marketa Uhlirova and published by Koenig Books, London, 2013. Find out more and buy the book from here: Now available from the University of the Arts shop and a healthy % of the proceeds goes towards organising the next festival! Buying from the UAL shop is a great way to directly support us.

Free download: Marcel L’Herbier Dossier

This dossier, edited and introduced by Caroline Evans and Marketa Uhlirova, is the first English-language publication on the French film director Marcel L’Herbier, to whom we devoted last year’s festival season.

This downloadable online publication brings together archival visual material, newly translated quotations and newly commissioned articles by Mireille Beaulieu, Tag Gronberg, Joan Tumblety and Nick Rees-Roberts.

The dossier will be updated with more articles later this year, so watch this space!

Access the Dossier here

No More Stuff?

Screening of Alexander Mackendrick’s 1951 classic Man in the White Suit, followed by a panel discussion examining the notion of ‘No More Stuff’. Panelists include Barry Curtis (Royal College of Art), James Wallman (author of Stuffocation), Cyndi Rhoades (Worn Again), Claire Pajaczkowska (Royal College of Art) and Rebecca Earley (Chelsea College).

Thursday 13th February, 6.00 – 8.30pm. Central Saint Martins, LVMH Lecture Theatre, E003. All welcome but booking is essential:

Organised with Adam Thorpe (Socially Responsive Research Group, CSM). The event is part of the Green Week at CSM.

Stephen Horne takes silent film accompaniment up a notch

This year the brilliant Stephen Horne accompanies two of the silent films in the Marcel L’Herbier season, Le Vertige and L’Inhumaine. We have asked him how he does it. Interview by Sara Cozzarin

How do you approach your silent film accompaniments? 

 My approach varies from event to event, according to a number of variables. Some of these can be quite prosaic – for example, how busy I am or how much I’m getting paid! But principally my approach is dictated by the film itself. Silent films, just like today’s films, benefit from music which is broadly sympathetic to their tone and genre. This usually means music that is not overtly ‘outside the box’. But there are exceptions -for example, L’Inhumaine is a very strange, abstract film, so my music will hopefully reflect this.

Even if a score was originally composed for a particular film, I don’t usually refer to it. One thing I think most people don’t realise is just what a huge amount of time is required to learn to play an original score – and, just as importantly, synchronise it with the film. If a score survives at all, it will frequently be incomplete or not match the surviving prints of the films. I’m not against recreating original scores at all – indeed, I think they are fascinating. But that’s just not my specialism.

Whether you completely improvise or not, you clearly still must have the ability to respond quickly to the image in front of you. Is this particularly challenging? Are there any secrets of the trade?

I started accompanying silents at the National Film Theatre over twenty years ago, and at that time pianists were not given advance screenings of the films that they were booked to accompany. This meant that, for about the first ten years or so, I accompanied every film ‘cold’. This is less of an issue for silent film musicians starting now, with DVDs and the internet, but it formed the way I approached the job. Obviously, to do the job adequately in those circumstances meant having to be able to both improvise and react quickly – turn on a musical sixpence, so to speak. I now frequently seem able to anticipate how a film is going to progress, in a way that feels almost telepathic. But I don’t think this is unique to me – I think it’s a characteristic of my generation of silent film accompanist! Although I have now produced several fully composed film scores, my training was as an improvising accompanist and that’s still essentially how I approach the job.

You are known for using multiple instruments. Which ones, and why? Just how do you make the transitions seamless?

I’ve only been a so-called ‘multi-instrumental’ accompanist for the last few years. For a very long time I only accompanied films on piano. But then one day I started to incorporate the flute, which I had stopped playing after University, and a couple of years later the accordion. Almost immediately it became my ‘USP’ – which can be a bit of a trap, because people expect it of me now! But although I think the piano is still on balance the best instrument for a solo accompaniment, people do seem to like to hear a change of sound world, even if it’s only for a short while. And recently I purchased a Theremin which I hope to use for L’ Inhumaine. I’m not making any promises, though – at the moment the noise I make with it is more akin to a feral fox than the ethereal effect I’m hoping to achieve eventually!

Darius Milhaud’s original score for L’Inhumaine is notoriously lost. I am interested in how you are going to be approaching this film. Were there any sequences that you found particularly inspiring or challenging?

Milhaud’s score for L’Inhumaine was apparently an integral part of Herbier’s conception, so it would be fascinating to experience how it worked with the film. But it doesn’t survive, so for me it’s an academic point. One could put together a medley score out of the music that Milhaud was composing during this period, which would be a perfectly valid approach. But for me the most important thing is for the music to be authentic to the spirit of the film and sometimes this can best be achieved by using techniques that wouldn’t have been available at the time that it was made. For example, I think that L’Inhumaine was trying to create an otherworldly mood and it’s possible that music which might have been considered otherworldly at the time would not have that effect any more. I want to make the film work for the audience that is watching it, by creating something that will have an effect on them equivalent to the one the film is striving for. In general, I like to wrap my own musical bubble around a film. One that is essentially timeless – in the sense of not feeling either overtly then or now.

Highlights of If Looks Could Kill were on show in Copenhagen

Highlights of the Fashion in Film Festival’s 2008 season If Looks Could Kill were recently on show in Copenhagen. Take a look at the original 2008 season here. Look at the festival catalogue here.