17/10/2023 INTERVIEW


“My focus remains steadfast: to nurture and inspire, providing a valuable perspective in a world where both artistry and business can coexist harmoniously.” Diane Pernet is the pioneer of fashion blogging and is often cited as the inventor of online fashion opinion. As one of the first fashion bloggers, as well as a fashion designer, journalist and film director, Diane Pernet has become one of the most popular figures in the fashion industry and Paris Fashion Week would not be the same without Diane's eye-catching looks in the front rows. With Copypaste! Diane Pernet spoke about separating art from money, the use of AI and how the fashion industry has changed over the years. Diane Pernet presents the 15th edition of her film festival dedicated to fashion and beauty from 9th to 12th November. // @asvof

photo by Ruven Afanador // graphic design by Sandro Rybak

You were one of the first fashion bloggers to write about fashion but with no intention to sell anything. Vogue Business even called you a ‘genuinfluencer’ who gave an honest opinion about fashion.

How important is it for you to separate the artistic side from the business side of fashion and do you think that there is a good balance in the current fashion industry?

My passion for generosity and nourishing others' lives has always been a driving force behind my endeavors. When I launched my blog in February 2005, it was born out of a desire to share what I find interesting and give people a personal and behind-the-scenes look. While it's often said that pioneers pave the way for others to reap the financial benefits, I find fulfillment in championing creativity. Of course, there's wisdom in the notion that I could monetize the support and insights I offer, but I also recognize that fashion, like any industry, thrives on a delicate balance of commerce and creativity. My focus remains steadfast: to nurture and inspire, providing a valuable perspective in a world where both artistry and business can coexist harmoniously.

Film has always been an important art form in your life. What is the idea behind the Fashion Film Festival you created and how important is it for you to merge different media in fashion?

My journey has been an intricate tapestry woven with threads of cinema and fashion—two realms I deeply cherish. My academic background is in filmmaking.  In New York I founded my own fashion brand in 1978, operating until the end of 1990 before relocating to Paris. Establishing a fashion film festival was like bringing together two soulmates—film and fashion—in an artistic matrimony that felt profoundly fulfilling to me.

I inaugurated my first fashion film festival in 2006 in Los Angeles at Cinespace, initially titled "You Wear it Well," before rebranding it to ASVOFF (A Shaded View on Fashion Film) in 2008 with the first edition at Jeu de Paume. As we approach our 15th edition—though one could argue it's our 17th given the expansions over the years—the festival has blossomed into a multi-dimensional cultural event. It is not about red carpet it is a cultural event; we're a living document of our era, encompassing fashion, film, art, music, performance, and current  social issues.

In tune with the zeitgeist, last year we introduced a TikTok installation, acknowledging its current relevance. Always looking forward, this upcoming edition will feature AI-generated films, the latest frontier in creative expression. We're also thrilled to introduce "Climate Warriors," our inaugural theme aimed at engaging children aged 6-12, with a 10-year-old president and jury. The festival continues to explore diverse themes curated by experts in their respective fields—such as Black Spectrum, Responsible Actions, Digital Fashion, Arabethos, Chinese films, Artistic Research, and the future of fashion film, as well as Queer Archives.

Enclosed is a deck offering brief overviews of these curated thematic categories. Each serves as a unique lens through which to explore the ever-evolving landscape of fashion and film. Through it all, my commitment to nurturing creativity and capturing the spirit of our times remains as steadfast as ever.

What do you think about the controversial topic of artificial intelligence in fashion such as using it to create entire fashion shoots? Do you think we should embrace all options of new technology in fashion or can it be detrimental to the art of fashion?

I view emerging technologies not as setbacks, but as innovative platforms to explore and expand upon. Over the last three editions of our festival, the Fabricant has curated a theme around Digital Fashion. While still in its infancy, it's fascinating to see how quickly brands are embracing this new medium. Recently, I was sent a magazine containing only AI-generated fashion shoots, which, although intriguing, felt somewhat underutilized. The real promise of these technologies lies in their potential to transcend the limitations of reality—to create visions that are truly beyond the ordinary.

The digital realm offers an unprecedented playground for experimentation, and I'm eagerly watching its evolution. I was particularly struck by demonflyingfox's audacious approach in their faux Balenciaga ad—a compelling exploration of what this new frontier can offer.

That said, it's crucial to acknowledge the ethical complexities tied to AI, including its potential to distort truth on a grand scale. Whether it's deep-faking political figures or religious leaders into unexpected scenarios, the ramifications can be disconcerting. As we navigate this emerging landscape, it's essential to be both open-minded and cautious, embracing the creative possibilities while remaining vigilant about the ethical dilemmas. So, my feeling is let's embark on this journey with a sense of curiosity and responsibility, excited to see where this new chapter takes us.

Apart from the digital aspect, how has fashion changed over time since you started in the industry and do you feel that being in this industry today is different from when you started?

Spanning more than four decades in the fashion industry has provided me with a unique vantage point on its evolution. When I launched my first collection in 1978, the landscape was distinctly different. The allure of being an independent designer was strong despite its challenges, but today the terrain is even more complex with the omnipresence of fast fashion and fashion conglomerates like LVMH, Kering, and OTB.

The '80s were a vibrant period, pulsing with a greater emphasis on individual expression. Then, the cost barriers were far less daunting; I fondly recall pulling off entire fashion shows on a budget of just $1,500, covering everything from space and technicians to lighting and invitations but not including model costs which I settled in clothing which was far more expensive than if I just paid them. While generous supporters who believe in your vision still exist, the soaring costs of today's fashion world make it a difficult realm for emerging designers to navigate.

The digital revolution, however, levels the playing field to some extent. Today, the power of online communities allows designers to connect with a global audience without the substantial costs tied to in-person experiences. This shift in audience dynamics has also transformed the front rows of fashion shows; once reserved for buyers and press, they're now filled with influencers, K-pop stars, and rappers. The spotlight has partly shifted from the runway to the audience, making the event more about the scene than the collections themselves.

Yet, brands like Comme des Garçons, Balenciaga, Rick Owens, Dries Van Noten, Issey Miyake, and Glenn Martens for Y/Project or Diesel, J W Anderson, Matthieu Blazy for Bottega Veneta, Thom Browne continue to prove that product and creativity can coexist beautifully. So while the industry has evolved in countless ways—some challenging, some exhilarating—its core essence remains: the art of possibility, the thrill of innovation, and the eternal quest for artistic expression.

What would you change in the fashion industry if you could?

If I could steer change in the fashion industry, my first call to action would be a reduction in greenwashing and a meaningful pivot towards genuine sustainability. It's astonishing to me that emerging designers can embark on their creative journeys without taking into account the considerable environmental footprint of the fashion industry. This isn't just an option anymore; it's an imperative. Authenticity in sustainable practices needs to be the rule, not the exception, as we collectively strive to mitigate the industry's impact on our planet. The focus should be on creating a system that is inherently responsible and eco-friendly, rather than merely adhering to sustainability as a marketing tactic.

Soon it will be the turn of Paris Fashion Week again. What do you enjoy most about the fashion industry gathering during PFW and which brands are you most looking forward to?

Fashion week serves as a reunion of sorts, a delightful opportunity to reconnect with friends from global fashion capitals like Milan, London, New York, and Tokyo, who I might otherwise not have the chance to see.

Aside from perennial favorites such as Rick Owens, Balenciaga, Dries Van Noten, Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, Undercover, Noir, Y/Project, and Issey Miyake, I could continue but… I'm also keen on exploring the creations of rising stars like Weinsanto, Avellano, Ottolinger, Pressiat, and ALL IN. And it's not just about established names; I'm particularly excited to see what fresh perspectives are brought to the table by newcomers like Imruh Asha and the new designer at Ann Demeulemeester.

You are not only a fashion critic, an influencer, a film maker but you also created your own perfume. How different was the approach to creating this perfume compared to creating fashion or a film and what inspired you to create perfumes?

Crafting perfume has been an extraordinary journey that provided a new canvas for my creativity. After 13 years of designing fashion and decades of promoting other artists in both the fashion and film industries, the experience of creating my own line of perfumes felt like a refreshing return to personal artistic expression. The idea was actually sparked about a decade ago during a visit to Pitti in Florence. A close friend suggested it was high time I ventured into the world of fragrance, and even recommended the perfect collaborator to kickstart this new chapter. That set off a nine-year journey that recently came to a close as I ended that initial contract. I'm now enthusiastically looking for a new partner who shares my passion for this unique art form.

Perfume, to me, is more than just a scent; it's an intimate and evocative medium that allows one to craft dreams. Unlike fashion or film, where the experience might be collective or external, fragrance is deeply personal. It's the one art form that literally touches your skin, becoming a memorable signature that is uniquely your own.

Is there any project you have not yet realised but have in mind for the future?

My latest venture beyond the realm of my fashion film festival is a collaboration with director Konstantinos Menelaou, who is crafting a documentary about my life and career. This project has been years in the making; well lets say he has been trying to get me to say ok to it. I've finally given it the green light. The film aims to be an atmospheric experience, focusing less on traditional "talking heads" and more on capturing the essence and mood of my world. Currently, we are in the fundraising stage, actively seeking the resources needed to bring this intimate portrait to life.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I'm thrilled to share that the upcoming edition of ASVOFF has received an official endorsement from the Ministry of Culture. This is a monumental milestone for the festival, which has consistently spotlighted the most relevant trends in fashion and culture through the medium of film since its inception. The French government's recognition serves as a powerful affirmation of the relentless dedication and hard work that both my team and I have poured into this endeavor. I couldn't be prouder of this significant achievement

photo by Nobuyoshi Araki

@asvof @asvoff_official