IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR! THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL IS IN FULL SWING, ROLLING OUT ALL THE MUST-SEE MOVIES FOR THE COMING YEAR TO PACKED AUDIENCES ALL AROUND THE CITY. HERE, L.A. COLLINS CHATS WITH DIRECTOR FRÉDÉRIC TCHENG ABOUT HIS NEW RAF SIMONS DOCUMENTARY, DIOR AND I
With a fearless filmmaking finesse that has served-up such richly satisfying works including Valentino: The Last Emperor (as co-producer, co-editor and cinematographer) and Diana Vreeland: The Eye has to Travel (as co-director), multi-hyphenate director Frédéric Tcheng’s growing body of work shows the determined promise and the pulse of the very gifted artists he’s profiled in recent years. In Dior and I, a buzzed-about documentary in competition at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Tcheng explores the intense, opulent world of Christian Dior’s enduring legacy through the House of Dior (founded in 1946/47). He does so by taking a rare, behind-the-scenes peek at the making of the highly anticipated first Haute Couture collection by Raf Simons, Dior’s inspired new Artistic Director, who revels in working with his tireless team. Visual parallels between Simons, known for his minimalist designs for Jil Sander, with the master designer himself, help illustrate how the story of Dior is moving ever-forward. As a filmmaker who recognizes all the hands involved in making a collaborative effort come to life, Tcheng not only features those in the spotlight, but also recognizes the supporting workforce that keeps the energy pumping at the House; even noting that the seamstresses are some of the “hardest-working artisans” he’s ever met. Tcheng’s expansive, detailed vision make sure to draw a fuller picture of what we’ve been wanting to see--what’s newly blossoming inside of the buttoned-down House of Dior.
L.A. COLLINS While filming Raf Simons, was it clear why his energy and vision would make such a fine match for Dior?
FRÉDÉRIC TCHENG I certainly felt an energy surrounding Raf Simons and his closest collaborator Pieter Mulier. They brought a youthful spirit to the workroom, and a sense of humor, even as they were working 14-hour days. But for me as a filmmaker, as opposed to a fashion journalist, the focus was less on whether his ideas were a fit for Dior and more on the interpersonal relationships and the process.
LC How long did you spend filming Raf and his team? Do you remember the first time you felt excited about a behind-the-scenes moment you captured?
FT Our crew would show up every day at 8 am and go to the atelier on the fifth floor. A bit later, we'd catch up with Raf and stay until everybody went home. It was intense, but we had to feel like we were part of this process with them. On the third day, when Raf came across a painting of Christian Dior in the boutique and stood in front of it for quite a while, I felt like I had captured a great visual metaphor for what the film was about.
LC Let's talk about the seamstresses at Dior. What makes them beyond special in your book?
FT Not only are they some of the most dedicated and hard-working artisans that I've ever met--some seamstresses have a two-hour commute to come to Dior's atelier--but they are the most humble and humorous people. Honestly, I think their craft and knowledge deserves to be part of the World Cultural Heritage.
The final Tribeca Film Festival screening of Dior and I is tonight at 9 pm at AMC Loew's Village 7 in New York City.
Stills courtesy Image.net and Tribeca Film Festival