Sweet smell of success

Derek Lam and Henry Joost talk about ten films inspired by fragrances.

by Anne-Katrin Titze

Derek Lam with Ava Raiin: "I would say, all the Robert Altman movies."
Derek Lam with Ava Raiin: "I would say, all the Robert Altman movies." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Catfish and the upcoming Nerve (starring Emma Roberts, Juliette Lewis and Dave Franco) co-directors, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman of Supermarché, hosted a cocktail party and special screening at the Angelika Film Center of 10 short films, written by Rightor Doyle, that were inspired by Derek Lam’s upcoming fragrance line 10 Crosby.

Derek Lam 10 Crosby fragrances
Derek Lam 10 Crosby fragrances Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

Benjamin Dickinson's Rain Day (Jennifer Westfeldt, Greta Lee), Ellipsis (Langston Kerman, Alia Shawkat), 2am Kiss (Aya Cash, Josh Safdie, Eva Tolkin, Kelsey Lu, Sam Jacober, Jen Kim, Lee, Kerman); Celia Rowlson-Hall's Silent St (Paul Lazar, Hailey Gates, Anthony Ramos, Westfeldt, Cash), Afloat (Jason Kittleberger, Xavier) and Looking Glass (Rowlson-Hall, Kittleberger); Andrew Zuchero's Drunk on Youth (Sofia Black-D'Elia, Christopher Trinidade), Blackout (Devhynes, Lindsay Burdge, Kate Lyn Sheil, Kevin Barnett, Kim, Jacober) Something Wild (Celia Rowlson-Hall); Albert Moya's HiFi (Ava Raiin, Gates, Kittleberger, Black-D'Elia, Lu, Tolkin, Lee, Trinidade). Robert Altman is Derek Lam's favourite director and he loves that his clothes become part of the storytelling.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Tell me how this unusual project came about.

Henry Joost: Yeah. Derek approached us with the idea and the inspiration for the films.

AKT: He had seen your films and wanted the Catfish people?

Henry Joost: "Yeah, kind of love letters to New York City."
Henry Joost: "Yeah, kind of love letters to New York City." Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

HJ: I guess so. But we also make commercials sometimes and we are a part of the New York kind of indie community. He told us about the story behind making the perfume, which was he would sit at his window every day and be inspired by the girls walking down the street and make up stories for them. And we thought that was really cool. And we made up stories for each perfume.

AKT: Who came up with the overall concept of the intertwining stories?

HJ: They were all written by Rightor Doyle and then we let the filmmakers choose which film they wanted to make. There are four filmmakers. Three of them made three films and one made one film. There was no disagreement on who would make what and it all just came together perfectly.

AKT: All connected to Crosby Street.

HJ: Yeah, kind of love letters to New York City. All downtown and, I think, stories that we can all relate to.

AKT: You have a film coming up?

Filmmaker/choreographer Celia Rowlson-Hall in Dusen Dusen
Filmmaker/choreographer Celia Rowlson-Hall in Dusen Dusen Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

HJ: We have a film called Nerve, that's a Lionsgate film with Emma Roberts and Dave Franco, coming out soon. It's an internet thriller love story. It's cool. Also takes place in New York.

Anne-Katrin Titze: Great project!

Derek Lam: Thanks. I really enjoyed it.

AKT: I like the idea of things coming in 10s.

DL: For me it was about creating the same way I do clothing. It's providing a wardrobe for a woman. So why not extend that idea to fragrance?

AKT: And the ten films?

DL: You know, it was again breaking rules about the conventional way of expressing fragrance through advertising. By being more creative and collaborating with people like Henry [Joost] and Rel [Ariel Schulman] to make something that was very inspired by but not dictated by a product.

AKT: And you don't even see the product. You don't need to.

DL: That was key to me. I said, let's tap into it from an emotional level but let's not gratuitously talk about the fragrances.

Frédéric Fekkai, Derek Lam, Shirin von Wulffen at the Angelika Film Center
Frédéric Fekkai, Derek Lam, Shirin von Wulffen at the Angelika Film Center Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

AKT: I liked that it starts with a variation of Through The Looking Glass. That is what fashion can do, what clothes can do. They can transform you. That's what we always hope for.

DL: Absolutely. When I was conceiving Looking Glass, I wanted it to be about that moment when a woman - before she walks into a meeting or before she walks into a restaurant, she checks herself out in a reflective surface to kind of regroup to herself. What Henry and Rel have done with that concept is they have blown it up into that amazing emotional catharsis, that was very poetic.

AKT: Fashion and fairy tales are about the transformative. Do these boots look familiar to you?

DL: Oh, my god, of course. I love them, they're great. Thank you for wearing them tonight.

AKT: I get a lot of compliments for them.

DL: I love when I hear that. That's what I'm looking forward to hearing about the fragrances. Not because it's designed or created by me but because it's an extension of your personality.

AKT: Are there certain movies that inspired you creatively for your designs?

Celia Rowlson-Hall's Afloat 10 Crosby Fragrance & Film Collaboration at Sephora
Celia Rowlson-Hall's Afloat 10 Crosby Fragrance & Film Collaboration at Sephora Photo: Anne-Katrin Titze

DL: There are so many movies that I am inspired by. I would say, all the Robert Altman movies.

AKT: Why Robert Altman?

DL: I love the idea that it's almost like a documentary but obviously storytelling. And it's about snippets of people's lives that sometimes are very mundane and sometimes very poignant. For me that's what I love doing. It's creating those moments for people.

AKT: It's interesting that you say it that way. Did you see Son of Saul? It is nominated for the Foreign Language Oscars.

DL: I haven't seen it yet. I have to catch up on all that.

AKT: I was wearing your black and white short in the front long in the back sweater when I spoke to the director and your skirt when I did the opening night post-screening discussion with the star of the film [Son Of Saul]. I happen to wear your clothes a lot when I talk to filmmakers [also with Michael Moore and an Urs Fischer mask for #Horror]. They become part of the storytelling.

DL: That's great. Absolutely. I think the attraction about fashion right now is that we may not be able to build great buildings or create long novels but by the action of creating yourself through fashion, it's an immediate way of saying, this is who I am.

The project is a Supermarché and Moxie Pictures Production.

Coming up - director and choreographer Celia Rowlson-Hall on her three short films that were inspired by Derek Lam’s 10 Crosby fragrance line and her feature film Ma.

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