We met at the Santoni presentation during Fashion Week, but before even saying a word, all of our attention is drawn to an unusual installation. Five different films are projected onto a wall, one girl in all her sensual nude beauty poses in a 35 mm film by Olivier Zahm. Everything else is yet to be discovered!
Spy News Magazine: You created a series of fashion films for Santoni. Can you tell us more about this project?
Olivier: It is actually inspired by the 70’s. Since Santoni shoes are a luxury product, actually I would even say a high quality product – it is truly timeless brand. So my idea was to create a representation of timeless beauty, an old fashioned vision of glamour. Because for me, glamour was an integral part of the 70’s lifestyle, the era of my parents and their friends, an era for which I am very nostalgic. So I wanted to pay tribute to this glorious time, keeping a very strong connection with the Santoni line, yet all the while inspired by Studio 54 and Paloma Picasso. So I took an American girl, she is not a model at all, but she loves to be photographed. She is sort of a young Pamela Picasso in this film, playing her part. And since the idea was to shoot the shoes, to celebrate the glory of the shoes, the best way turned out to capture the nude body.
Spy News Magazine: Quite a provocative nudity, but incredibly cool!
Olivier: Yes, but a sophisticated nudity.
Spy News Magazine: A question for Mr. Santoni – Did you know about the concept?
Santoni: I did not know, but I trusted Olivier 100 per cent and I loved the project.
Spy News Magazine: And the negotiation process, how did it go?
Santini: There were no negotiations at all. I trusted Olivier completely.
Olivier: Yes, Santoni trusted me and I also asked permission to shoot a real movie, because I do not like digital cameras. So when you shoot with an old style camera you do not see what you actually do. You are working with an actual naked girl. So I tried not to go too far, but I did end up shooting a little bit of nudity.
Spy News Magazine: Who chose the girl for the movie?
Olivier: I did, but I was truly looking for somebody who looked like a young Paloma Picasso. The girl turned out to be very comfortable with her body with no fear of being naked and at the same time with no sign of vulgarity. It’s very inspiring when a girl is comfortable with her body.
Spy News Magazine: So the idea was that the girl be sexy, that she needs nothing else on but her Santoni shoes?
Olivier: That’s the line!
Spy News Magazine: How do you see contemporary art’s role within the fashion world nowadays?
Olivier: It’s totally the same for me. I see designers being inspired by contemporary art and artists looking more and more in fashion . For me it’s the same world. I’ve been raised in both universes and I believe one doesn’t necessarily exist without the other.
Spy News Magazine: Don’t you think the digital era is intruding too much and is basically replacing the publishing business?
Olivier: When I say digital, and I mean internet and Instagram, I say it’s global. And when it becomes global, you go trans cultural. When you go trans cultural, you have to be careful about sexuality. Because the concept of sexuality is not the same in China, Iran, South Africa, or New York. Even between California and Texas the idea of how you translate sexuality is totally different. So when you go global, using internet as a tool, you become almost anti-sexual, un-cultural and not artistic enough. That’s why I don’t really like the internet. Anything too global is not truly art and not sexual for me anymore. That’s my point of view.
That is why, on the other hand, I love the concept of Santoni. It is a local family affair. It comes from tradition, Italian craftsmanship, from the family business. That is why the full version of this film can be seen in this room only. You can go on my Purple site and you still won’t be able to see it.
Spy News Magazine: Is it censored or banned?
Olivier: No, neither of the two. But you kind of see a trailer for a movie while the real movie is actually happening here in this very room.
Spy News Magazine: So we are being invited to a totally world exclusive premier?
Olivier: Yes, it’s almost like Studio 54. The place that existed in one place only: what happened there, stayed there. There was no version for the internet.
Spy News Magazine: A question to Mr. Santoni – was there any version of Studio 54 in Italy?
Santoni: As Olivier says, this disco existed in NYC only. Many discos in Italy were simply inspired by Studio 54. We are happy Olivier created this movie inspired by the 70’s, thus he became a real ambassador of this period for us.
Olivier: Oh yeah, I am definitely a little bit vintage myself, haha!
Santoni: The 70’s is really your world, your universe. It’s what you believe in, dear Olivier!
Olivier: The whole period of the 70’s, the concepts, even the philosophy of this era are so creative, that I am proud to convey its mood via Santoni. It was innovative, progressive, artistic – everything! Speaking of the 80’s, I personally have nothing against them, but they became a commercialization of the previous years. And then 90’s became a total collapse of everything. So the true experimental era for me remains in the 70’s.
Spy News Magazine: A question for Mr. Santoni – Do you have the same vision of your ideal woman?
Santoni: I don’t know about that, but I definitely liked the one he chose for the movie.
Spy News Magazine: So, just her body and your shoes?
Santoni: That is definitely is my favorite part.
Olivier: You see why I didn’t choose the digital camera? If you shoot a naked body with a digital camera it becomes pornographic. So it’s pure emotion and sensuality too. And it’s very modern, perfect for this moment.
Santoni: We received so many compliments from the fashion editors of different magazines for this project that we really dare to say that it’s so modern and even ahead of its time, even though made in this old style. That is quite perfect sophistication.
Olivier: You will soon see nowadays the glorious comeback of the 60mm film, 35 mm, and even 8 mm filmmakers. You’ll see. I even opened a company in Paris called Film Fabrique, and it’s the only place where you can develop non-digital films.
Spy News Magazine: Well, thank you very much for this interview and our best wishes from the SPY NEWS team for this sensational collaboration.
PS’ FOR COLOR ADDICTS …..
Photocredit: spy Polina Shalaeva