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Fendi’s 15-minute documentary explores fashion show preparation

February 6, 2014


Italian fashion house Fendi filmed a 15-minute documentary to give consumers a thorough look at the inner workings of the company.

The film, which went live exclusively on Feb. 5, follows the creative and executive team as they prepared for Fendi Day last fall, which consisted of their spring 2014 fashion show, a boutique opening and the unveiling of an exhibition. By releasing the full version of the video on its Web site, Fendi is able to increase traffic to its newly redesigned Fendi Life microsite, and encourage a deeper understanding of the brand.

"The behind-the-scenes glimpse, from interviews and fittings to shots of Fendi HQ and, of course, Karl Lagerfeld make the video very personal, and this approach works to strengthen the relationship between the brand and their fans," said Kelly Cooper, marketing manager for ShopIgniter, Portland, OR.

"The video also brilliantly depicts the hard work and craftsmanship that goes into creating the exquisite garments," she said. "It shows customers that when they buy Fendi, they are truly participating in something amazing.

"Fendi was smart to feature the video on their homepage. The video takeover with a 'watch now' call-to-action immediately captures the attention and interest of their web visitors.

"For true brand enthusiasts, the 15-minute length may not be a deterrent, but with the attention span of the modern day Internet consumer getting shorter and shorter, a 15-minute commitment is a tall order."

Ms. Cooper is not affiliated with Fendi, but agreed to comment as an industry expert.

Fendi was unable to comment directly before press deadline.

In house

Fendi enlisted French filmmaker Loic Prigent to direct its documentary, titled “Inside the Mothership.” The brand previewed the film on social media prior to the release on to create anticipation.

Facebook post from Fendi

The film fittingly begins with the ambient noise of a spaceship underscoring creative director Karl Lagerfeld’s arrival at Fendi’s headquarters. He walks between racks of clothes, saying hello to Fendi’s staff.

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A caption pops up telling viewers that this is the last two days of fittings before the runway show.

Mr. Lagerfeld is heard in a voiceover talking about how respectful the creative team is of each other, which is rare to find.

Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director for the house’s accessories, is seen placing a handbag on a model’s arm. She stands by shelves of bags explaining her designs.

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A time pops up in the bottom of the screen telling viewers that it is after 8:30 p.m. The models are shown walking in looks one after the other, identified by name at the bottom of the screen, including Lindsey Wixon and Georgia May Jagger.

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Fendi CEO Pietro Beccari makes an appearance at the fittings, investigating the material of a dress. He talks about how it is difficult for stylist Charlotte Stockdale to choose and edit what will go on the runway because there are so many beautiful pieces.

Ms. Stockdale then shows viewers the room full of clothing that has to be pared down to 49 outfits, saying that the room holds what could be 100 strong outfits.

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A message tells viewers that the collection was inspired by technology, and then the video shows closeups of the garments. Viewers are also shown the atelier above the studio, where the seamstresses are hard at work.

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Next, a pop-up tells viewers about the crystal-embroidered dress on screen, which took 300 hours to make. The seamstresses take it off a dress form very carefully, and it goes on a model.

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At 2:42 a.m. model Cara Delevingne arrives, and Mr. Lagerfeld talks about how much he loves her. He also remarks on how her positive attitude changes the tone  backstage, and the video demonstrates by showing the models at the fitting before and after her arrival.

Ms. Delevingne returns the affection, calling the team her Fendi family, and saying she would go anywhere to do a show with them.

At 5:10 a.m., after some rearranging of the board with the show order, the fittings are done.

Just three hours later, the Fendi team is out again, as Mr. Lagerfeld visits the "Making Dreams: Fendi in Cinema" exhibit in Milan for the first time. Mr. Beccari explains that what differentiates a luxury house from other fashion brands is history and a story.

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Mr. Lagerfeld also sees the brand’s new store in Milan on Via Montenapoleone.

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Aerial time-lapse photography shows the bustling before the show later that morning. Every aspect of the show preparation, from the models rehearsing for the show to hair and makeup application, is captured.

The show goes on, and the camera switches back and forth between the runway and the backstage, where Mr. Lagerfeld, Ms. Fendi and Ms. Stockdale watch monitors.

Juxtaposed against the fast pace of the rest of the film, the video ends with silent black-and-white footage of the brand, ending with Mr. Lagerfeld and Ms. Fendi bowing at the end of the show.

Insider's take

Fendi has previously used video to show its fans the inner workings of the brand.

The label gave consumers a thorough idea of the backstage environment at a runway show with a behind-the-scenes video for its fall 2014 men’s collection.

To release the video, Fendi posted an abridged version to its Facebook page, telling users to go to its Web site to see the full version. By offering two different lengths of videos, Fendi is able to appeal to fans with varying attention spans (see story).

Fashion brands have been pushing the boundaries of length of their social videos to provide a more fulfilling experience for consumers and to further explain their brand story.

For instance, French atelier Chanel debuted a new film focusing on Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s return to fashion in the 1950s following World War II, directed by the brand’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld.

The film, aptly titled “The Return,” is more Hollywood than other typical fashion films, with a run time of 30 minutes and big-budget production. By creating a longer length film, Chanel was able to educate fans on its story on a deeper level (see story).

With a film of this length, promotion on social media should focus on brief clips, leading those who want to see the full version to a different space to watch.

"The video is used to capture attention and generate interest," Ms. Cooper said. "Consumers can then explore the products featured in the video without having to navigate to another Web site.

"The shorter, teaser clips are perfect fodder for social channels," she said. "They work to generate interest in the film and then deliver people most interested in the content, to Fendi's Web site where they can watch the full-version.

"It was extremely smart for Fendi to tease the documentary via social channels for a couple of reasons. It built awareness among their most loyal fans and their networks, plus the videos were then easily picked up and promoted by press, each working to build an engaged audience for the official launch.

"This great momentum shouldn't stop post-launch. To continually build their audience, Fendi could include social sharing options so Web site visitors have an easy way to share the full-length documentary out to their own network."

Final Take
Sarah Jones, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York