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Our chat with the team behind the 2015 CFDA Fashion Awards films, Trey Laird & Steven Kolb.
[intense_hr size=”large” accent_width=”30″ accent_height=”3″] By Kenneth Richard | the Impressionist

Any fans of the Oscars has seen a trend in recent years of the show pulling back the curtain to shine a little light on their production, from celebrity wrangling to rehearsals to flow. But noticeably absent is how they make the largest segments of the show, the nomination videos. And why would they as the award videos, like that of the Golden Globes or Emmys, simply be clips from the films or shows that are nominated.

Fashion, however, has a much heavier lift in creating their award show videos. Think about it, what industry other than fashion is the brand and the nominee often one and the same? Nominees don’t have clips beyond a runway show or fashion film, and many don’t have either. So it was with excitement and admiration that The Impression watched the 2015 CFDA Awards nomination videos, seeing each designer distinctly celebrated as well as a thread of consistency in the film itself. No small feat.

The Impression spoke with the team behind the films, Creative Director Trey Laird and CFDA President Steven Kolb, to hear about the videos’ creation, working with such a diverse cast, doing it all within a month, music, and more.

Gentlemen, congratulations on such a successful show! Really was a fan of this season’s nomination videos. It’s kind of amazing to be able to see within a two-minute piece, all of the nominees, and have them individually stand out – how does this happen?
Trey: Well, this is my 8th year doing this. Diane von Furstenberg brought me in when she took over CFDA. It’s the greatest thing, because we also do her campaigns, too, but for the CFDA what’s so great is she says, “Do something you love and make it fabulous.” And that’s my brief! Maybe sometimes she’ll have a word that she’s thinking about, like she’ll say, “Be disruptive,” or something like that, but it’s my one time of the year that I get to do something that is really free and creative. There’s nobody there saying, “You can’t do this” or “You have to shoot this pant” or “This is our best seller.” You just get to go and sort of have a more editorial approach.

Steven: We started the process with the word ‘disruption’ and that was where we were going with the creative idea. Trey moved from that but you still felt that. You felt this kind of tug and pull and energy. I think when you watch them you are mesmerized by the product or by the clothes or by the collection. And that is what Trey helped us accomplish.

Trey: I wanted to do something that really captured the essence of each nominee, whether that’s with sound or movement or attitude or casting. And I wanted them to be proud of it and feel like it reflects them, their work, and their brand. But at the same time it’s an awards event, it’s a night, it has to hold together as a package, there has to be a thread there and a POV creatively. Steven was really helpful in shaping that consistency.

Steven: They were incredible this year and what Trey’s been doing with the CFDA, for a really long time now in art directing the print materials for the event, the program, the invitation, and in the way we had been doing the show historically, has been creating these stories and films that introduced the nominees similar to like you do a lifetime award award. But what dawned on me several years ago is when you create stories or narrative around the award, what people were focusing on was the story, not the nominees or the product or why the designer was even nominated. So we shifted the direction last year for the first time, and it was really incredible as while Trey was shooting the program book, he was at the same time creating these films as nominee packages. The connection and integration were start to finish; from the invitation, to the book, to the staged show.cfda awards 2015 photo

Can you share with us the talent process?
Trey: Each year it’s really fun to pick someone who I’m interested in working with. Sometimes it’s new people, sometimes it’s collaborators of mine for years, and develop a concept that can help us achieve that. So this year it was Barnaby Roper, and Barnaby is obviously known primarily as a filmmaker, and that was one of the things I was really interested in this year. I wanted to have the films drive it. In the past sometimes we’ve had the imagery drive it, and then we did sort of film around it. So I wanted to flip that process around this year. I had done one project for Karl Lagerfeld a couple of years ago with Barnaby and loved working with him. So I just called him up and said you know, “Here’s what I’m thinking…” – he’s got a real graphic sort of sensibility that’s very effect driven, and thought that could be a good thread for us to come up with a different casting, different attitudes for each nominee, but then tap in a little bit to Barnaby’s sort of graphic effect-driven language and see where we could take it.

Steven: Trey knows incredible talent and here we are the CFDA, so we don’t have any money or the ability to pay people! (Laughs) So you have this incredible ability to attract people like Barnaby who get involved because they want to share and create and be part of this incredible event.

Plus there are the designers themselves. By the way, the special effects really helped each segment feel visually distinctive. Same with the music. Were the designers involved at all in their music choices?
Trey: No, most of them see it for the first time that night when they’re there.

Wow, talk about trust!
TreyI mean they obviously come to be filmed, but we do everything independently. We pick looks we want to do, we cast it, and they’re all usually excited about it. Many times it’s similar nominees that I’ve shot over the past years and I think they know that it’s going to be, hopefully, well done. I think everybody’s usually really trusting and really excited and I really try to think about what’s going on with their brand at this particular time and I try to have that effect a little bit.

For instance with Rag & Bone, they had done that Baryshnikov and Lil’ Buck project earlier so just thinking about movement, and their clothes coming to life and moving in a masculine way, worked. That’s why I cast Akin, who is a star soul-cycle instructor and an ex-pro tennis player and he’s also a model now at IMG, and I thought,”Okay, that’s the perfect person to bring that to life and do a raw take on movement and the energy and sort of the physicality of it.”

But then with Marc Jacobs, you have a collection inspired by Vreeland, which lent itself to the classicism of someone like Caroline Trentini, who’s like an urban pin up model, and having her pose with sort of elegance, grace and the drama of fashion for fashion’s sake. I called my friend Lisa Vreeland who did the Diana Vreeland documentary last year and asked her if we could sample some of Vreeland’s quotes throughout. So that’s the voice you hear on top of Marc’s piece with Diane saying, “Anyone who doesn’t think style’s amazing is insane!” and “The best thing about London is Paris.” That’s the best line in the whole documentary. But just trying to find little details that are maybe meaningful to that designer or that brand, or maybe an editor in the audience that’s nominated, or thinking about their collections, or, you know, reflecting a little bit on the year, the time in fashion that we’re in.

Steven: When you look at other award programs, like the Emmy’s or the Oscars or the Tony’s, they are showing clips of what the creative is that got that talent nominated, and that is what Trey has done but in a really powerful way. You really get a sense of who that designer is, you understand the product and what they did over the last two seasons to be nominated. And that, to us, should be the story of what those films are.

And each category reflected the category. You had the designers reflected through the art direction but tied into each category. But even each of the categories all went together.

Yes, and I thought you did a nice job bringing in Swarovski in an eloquent way as well. I have a soft spot for sponsors who fund all this goodness. You did a nice job.
Trey: In that way, yeah. Cause I think sometimes you know it’s just called “Swarovski Awards” but it’s not integrated in any way and at the same time you don’t always want this heavy-handed thing.

I’ve only done the film parts in the last 3 seasons, but a long time ago they were doing these “uber conceptual,” really quirky off-beat films and sometimes I think they just got so quirky that it got too quirky for quirky’s sake. I thought there was a way to bring crystal to life in sort of a sexy way that had emotion and movement and energy with the dancers and some of those younger nominees for the Swarovski awards like Hood by Air and that type of thing, it just kind of fit to put it in that context. So yeah, it was fun, I really enjoyed doing it.

How long does it take?
: It’s intense because we prepare for about a month or even over that. We kind of know who we’re dealing with in early April and we usually shoot everybody the first week in May because we shoot right around the Met Ball.  There’s inevitably international nominees, or Tom Ford, or the Valentino’s team and they’re here for that. So we’ll shoot first week in May and the awards are June 2nd.  It is this incredible push to go from a shoot May 2nd to being at Lincoln Center June 2nd, to doing a hardcover book that’s printed in Italy with 90 images and 15 films plus the Swarovski nominee film, it’s intense.

Looked worth it and they were engaging.
Steven: When you are in front of a fashion audience, you had better be on the game to keep their attention. (Laughs) And everyone that was at the show had said they were the best clips that we had done for a very, very long time.

Well, we are sure there will be plenty more for years to come. Thanks for keeping our attention and congrats again.

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2015 CFDA Awards – Womenswear Video


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2015 CFDA Awards – Menswear Video


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2015 CFDA Awards – Swarovski Presentation Video


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CFDA Films
Agency | Laird + Partners
Creative Direction |Trey Laird
Director | Barnaby Roper
Stylist | Brian Molloy
Production |Alexandra Lunn
Art Director | Kyra Griffin
Editor | Will Town – @ Modern Post
Post Production Supervisor | Dan Carter – @ Modern Post
On-Set Editor | Connor McBride – @ Modern Post
Swarovski film
Agency | Laird + Partners
Creative Direction | Trey Laird
Director | Matt Baron
Stylist | Brian Molloy
Production | Alexandra Lunn
Choregrapher |Tanisha Scott
Dancers | Lida Fox, Bianca Gittens, Georgia Hilmer, Deva Huggins, Filip Lacina, Michael Lockley, Laura Love, Loic Mabanza, Dakota Moore, Marco Rodriguez, Ashley Smith, Austin Wyne
Production Manager | Andrea Pinto / Alldayeveryday
Editor | Robert Wagnerman