Craig McDean And David Mushegain Launch Kickstarter Campaign To Fund Gene Krell Documentary, ‘What’d You Say Your Name Was’
Fashion icons Craig McDean and David Mushegain are kicking off a campaign to showcase another fashion icon, Gene Krell, via a feature-length documentary film entitled ‘What’d You Say Your Name Was.’ Krell, a fashion icon and one of the most under-the-radar cultural influencers alive today, has been captured by the pair who now need your help in wrapping their incomplete film here on Kickstarter.
Krell is the International fashion director of Vogue and GQ Japan, creative director at Vogue Girl and W in South Korea, and a creative consultant to the Korean editions of GQ and Allure. Perhaps more significantly, Krell is a timekeeper, an authority on fashion history with a keen understanding of the importance of clothing in the cultural, political, and social landscape. How Krell arrived at this point is a story so colorfully convoluted that it may not be believed. The Kickstarter page explains, “There has yet to be a truly convincing fictional film made about the fashion world—and there probably never will be. The things that happen there, and the characters that populate it, simply cannot be made up.”
The story takes us from the mean streets of East New York to the front row at Paris fashion week. The film starts on Kings Road in London where Krell is credited by legendary designer Vivienne Westwood for inventing the Hippie look, which he ended up selling to the Rolling Stones. The journey continues to the beaches of Waikiki where he was “adopted” by the hard-core surfing community, to Florence, where Krell makes an annual pilgrimage to his tailor, to Hong Kong his latest new locus of inspiration, and to Tokyo where he now resides with his wife of 10 years. It is, above all, a classic American story of reinvention and redemption.
Krell comes off as an impeccably dressed wise guy in an ascot and tailored Italian jacket, with a Brooklyn accent to match. The Kickstarter page notes he speaks 5 languages fluently and sounds like a cab driver in all of them. Krell seems an unlikely fixture in the front row alongside the Anna Wintour’s and Kim Kardashian’s of the world. And in fact, even among his own tribe, Krell is something of an enigma—a man many recognize but few can say they really know.
Krell was born in 1946 in Brownsville, Brooklyn, often referred to as the “Murder Capital of New York”. Krell affectionately recalls that even to take out the garbage he’d dress up in a tie and a starched white shirt. Krell took up boxing at the local boy’s club, briefly attended art school, and supported himself largely with money he won in dance competitions.
In the late 60s, he made his way to London, where he quickly found a niche selling glam rock to the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix – and anyone who wanted to be them – at the famed Kings Road boutique Granny Takes a Trip. The boutique had a reputation for being the rock n’ roll hot spot of swinging London, eventually adding shops in New York and Los Angeles. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Johnny Thunders, the Rolling Stones, Elton John, and many other famous musicians took to sporting the psychedelic threads that hung in Granny’s windows. The Kickstarter page claims, “Whatever Gene wore, the Stones wanted.”
After leaving Granny’s, Krell worked with Vivienne Westwood, becoming her “right-hand man”.Westwood, years later helped pull him from the depths of alcohol and heroin abuse, in part by finding him work as a shepherd. “It was very hard work,” Krell recalls. “But then again it was very rewarding and romantic. I mean it was the stuff Harold Robbins novels are made of, decadent Kings Road character chucking it all in and becoming a monk or a shepherd. Sometimes I think the only reason I did it was so that I could come back and say I was a shepherd.”
The director of the film, Craig McDean has photographed and directed commercial campaigns for many fashion brands and contributes regularly to a range of publications including W, British and Italian Vogue, T Magazine, and AnOther Magazine. Over the course of his illustrious career, McDean has also had a number of books published. He is a 2008 recipient of the ICP Infinity Award and his work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Also a director on the film, David Mushegain, has been working in the fashion industry for over 20 years. He is an accomplished self-taught photographer who’s done countless editorials for magazines like Vogue and Elle. David has worked extensively documenting and making films and videos with musicians, most notably, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and U2. Mushegain considers Krell to be not just his dear friend but his mentor.
Over 30 hours of footage has been filmed from New York, Paris, and Tokyo as well as interviews with key subjects from Gene’s life including Keith Richards, Vivienne Westwood, Jonathan Newhouse, Ronnie Cooke-Newhouse, and Anna Della Russo. The hurdle they now face is to finish the last interviews, edit and finalize the film. The timeline to finish the documentary is May 2022, and the trailer and fundraising campaign can be found here at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/genekrell/whatd-you-say-your-name-was
We encourage all of you to help share in the bringing of this story to life.
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