The Present: Fabric of Time

2017 | Wearing Time: Past, Present, Future, Dream

Fashion is like a fruit. You couldn’t eat it a day before, and you can’t eat it a day after.  

–Alber Elbaz


This strand explores fashion and cinema’s shared capacity to become manifestations of the present. How can dress or fabric embody cinematic time? How can the rituals of producing fashion, wearing or fashioning oneself make time a tangible, felt entity? ‘The Present’ tackles perhaps the most complex set of questions through events, screenings and talks which place an emphasis on aspects of performance, duration and process. It connects the legacy of artist Annabel Nicolson’s legendary performance Reel Time with the work of late-20th century artists/filmmakers, and in a unique live show celebrates the hypnotic experimental tests made in the 1960s for Henri-Georges Clouzot’s unrealised film The Inferno, in which the union between the filmic and the sartorial is made all the more striking by the unique temporality of a screen test performance.

The present is not a static moment, but one in which time rushes on, as it does in the brief passing of time as Agnès Varda’s heroine Cléo waits from 5 to 7 for crucial news, with her clothes changing according to the mood and time of day. Clothes can signal different times of day and accompanying rituals – take the surreal succession of costumed identities from dawn to deep night in Holy Motors, or the odyssey of a single dress suit through the layers of society and human drama in Tales of Manhattan. Not only can dress be a vehicle with which to travel through time, is can also measure time.


After Reel Time

18:30, 15 March, Central Saint Martins
Film talk by Alistair O’Neill and Inga Fraser

This talk explores the significance of Annabel Nicolson’s seminal 1973 performance Reel Time, which drew an explicit connection between the technologies of film and clothing, conjoining a film projector and a sewing machine through a loop of celluloid. More »

Cléo from 5 to 7

20:45, 17 March, The Hoxton, Holborn
Introduced by Rosemary Wallin
Tickets here

This masterpiece of the French New Wave cinema by director Agnès Varda presents a slice of life, ninety minutes in the day of a young clothes-conscious recording star. The film respects the unity of time unfolding and the everyday, but this passage of time also marks the drama of a young woman facing the outcome of a critical medical test, during which she meets someone who might change her life. More »

The Colour of Pomegranates

18:30, 20 March, Curzon Bloomsbury
Introduced by Alice Rawsthorn
Tickets here

A recent 4K digital restoration by Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. One of the most daringly experimental films ever made (and produced in pre-Glasnost USSR, where it was quickly banned), Parajanov’s tribute to the Armenian poet Sayat Nova rethinks the very nature of cinematic space. More »

My Fancy High Heels

20:30, 22 March, Genesis Cinema
Featuring a post-screening panel discussion with Orsola de Castro, Kate Hills and Alice Wilby, chaired by Bel Jacobs
Tickets here

My Fancy High Heels is an experimental documentary that traces fashion to its materials, and through the production chain, revealing the troubling process that haunts the latest trends. While not pointing her finger at obvious villains, director Chao-ti Ho reveals very visible victims. More »

Tales of Manhattan

20:30, 24 March, Genesis Cinema
Introduced by Timothy Long
Tickets here

Directed by French filmmaker Julien Duvivier during his WWII exile in Hollywood, Tales of Manhattan presents a series of individual stories with different characters and situations. In this neglected film, the link is a dress suit that seems to carry bad luck. More »

Holy Motors

16:00, 25 March, Barbican Centre
Tickets here

Carax’s fantastically bizarre drama follows its protagonist, Mr Oscar, through a single busy workday in Paris. As he is ferried around by his chauffeur from one ‘appointment’ to another, he undergoes a series of radical transformations, his white stretch limousine becoming a dressing room where new costumes and make-up are applied. More »

The Inferno Unseen

16:30, 26 March, Barbican Centre
World premiere with live music by Rollo Smallcombe
Tickets here

In partnership with Lobster Films and MUBI, we are proud to present a newly mastered cut of rushes created in 1964 in preparation for Henri-Georges Clouzot’s film The Inferno, which was never finished. Together with his cinematographers Andréas Winding and Armand Thirard, Clouzot staged seemingly endless kinetic and optical experiments focusing primarily on actress Romy Schneider performing simple, seductive actions in carefully composed mises-en-scène. Departing from Serge Bromberg’s critically acclaimed documentary about the making of Clouzot’s film (2009), The Inferno Unseen focuses solely on Clouzot’s intoxicating visions, allowing them to build up their own momentum as they unfurl in all their glory. More »