Georgie Greville on Rag & Bone's 'Kinetic Conceptual'
Since their founding in 2002, Rag & Bone, comprised of designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, have established themselves at the forefront of effortless ready to wear. But what has cemented the brand’s reputation as innovators of their field is their unparalleled style of presentation. In stark contrast to other brands, Rag & Bone have elected not to participate in runway shows, instead continually reinventing the way in which each of their collections is marketed and shown to the rest of the fashion community.
This year’s AW15 Menswear Collection was presented in a short film that is described as a ‘kinetic conceptual.’ It is a film built entirely around dance and movement, and it stars two of the most gifted dancers working today: legendary ballet master and Russian auteur Mikhail Baryshnikov and rising dance star and Madonna collaborator Lil’ Buck. We spoke to the film’s director, Georgie Greville of our very own Legs Media about the project, and what it was like to work with such an inspired pairing of dancers.
So first and foremost, how did the video’s concept of a ‘kinetic conceptual’ come about?
I was looking for ways to explode classic portraiture into film with the glue being subtle, gestural movements, both repeated and random, linking the shots together. The thought was that the edit provided the choreography, the dance.
There’s a variety of diverse visual cues in the film, the chess game especially stands out, how did some of those develop?
Most of the concepts for the sets came from lovely, collaborative meetings with Rag and Bone. We were all thinking about what could create interesting tension between Lil Buck and Baryshnikov. I love the Man Ray chess set that our production designer Andrea Huelse sourced- it provided that extra abstract touch we needed. Rag and Bone also provided some industrial antique speakers that just added so much texture to the white world.
How did the casting of the dancers come about? It was a surprise and a delight to see Baryshnikov involved in a project like this.
Rag and Bone’s creative team absolutely nailed the casting. When I heard that Lil Buck and Baryshnikov were signed on, I freaked out. I am so thankful to have been able to work with those two- it was better than I could have ever imagined.
The models they chose were great performers as well. Little known fact: The redhead model Race Imboden, who has a Samurai-like modeling style, is a world class Olympic fencer and the guy with the long dreads is Jon Boogz, the choreographer for Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas and an amazing dancer in his own right.
Being such a high-octane video, what was the energy like on set?
It was an electric, positive vibe. Every single performance Buck and Baryshnikov gave was emotional and refreshing in how they interpreted my direction. The team was crowded around the monitor the entire time, seeing what Baryshnikov and Buck would do next. Given the license to be as abstract as they wanted, they ended up pushing each other in very interesting ways. Baryshnikov’s first take made a few people tear up including me. Seeing an artist express themselves so fully and purely with that caliber of raw talent left was breathtaking. The man is a legend for a reason.
A great deal of the video is on the interplay between the more experienced Baryshnikov and the up and comer Lil’ Buck, what was that chemistry like when the camera wasn’t rolling?
Total pals talking and laughing- like a sweet and slightly surreal buddy movie.
Much of your work deals with the abstract, would you say this film is a natural progression in your body of work?
Definitely. I feel like I have been subconsciously dreaming about this project for a while as it combines a lot of my favorite things- clean compositions with dynamic camera work, percussive editing, getting to direct movement and great fashion.
Given the high amount of movement, was camerawork a specific focus of the shoot/ a specific approach to filming?
Yes, the camera work was a huge focus and very premeditated when boarding out the shots. I wanted to create the longest pull outs and push-in’s possible so that we could make the dancers’ movement in each composition really come to life.
Was there anything in particular that surprised you on this shoot?
I would have to say I was surprised by how smoothly everything clicked together- the props, the blocking, the dancing. It was a seamless day of constant shooting but I guess that is par for the course when you are working with absolute pros like Lil Buck and Baryshnikov.
Photography courtesy of Andreas Laszlo Konrath