The new video collaboration between filmmaker Harmony Korine and Proenza Schouler is a doozy. After the brilliant film Act Da Fool, which showcased Proenza Schouler’s Fall 2010 RTW collection, I was overwhelmed with anticipation for this year’s creative iteration, titled Snowballs. The video was premiered (quite fittingly) at Silencio, a club in Paris designed completely by David Lynch.
Observing Act Da Fool in juxtaposition with Snowballs, I would venture to say that if you give Korine an inch he is wont to take a mile.
The first film stirred up some controversy, with arguments focused on the misrepresentation of urban culture. One must realize that Korine’s whole oeuvre focuses on groups that often go unnoticed. His portraits of these individuals come from a completely different angle than we are generally used to, and therefore arouse distain and controversy among many critics.
With that introduction, lets delve into Snowballs – the most alien portrayal of fashion I’ve witnessed. The video’s protagonists are two young females decked out in selections from Proenza Schouler’s Fall 2011 RTW line, juxtaposed against an assortment of cheap store-bought ‘Indian’ headdresses, plastic bags as shoes, and other passing accoutrements as costume. Styled by Pop magazine’s Vanessa Reid, the pairings point to society’s nascent obsession with Native American cultures, and are rightly spliced with a heavy dose of the derelict.
The two protagonists move through this dystopian space in a puckish manner, dancing in backyard forts, and wandering down deserted Nashville streets, where manufactured homes dot the landscape to form a decidedly lackluster setting for gorgeous clothes. It’s an unsettling narrative, to say the least, wherein a nasally sing-song voiceover vaguely references issues of American Indian oppression.
As the film proceeds, it explores a decidedly Lynchian aura, causing an inexplicable feeling that forced me to the edge of my seat multiple times. The sets become blanketed in darkness, with characters losing layers of clothing as day turns to night. At one point a male character enters the narrative, ranting prophetically, as if possessed.
Snowballs does not have the same evocative, dreamlike qualities of Act Da Fool; you can’t let it take you away like a magic carpet. But Snowballs is effective in that it incites a strong curiosity: what is the true context of these clothes, and what is their origin in terms of influences? Proenza Schouler said they looked at many Native American textiles for inspiration, yet the wearers of the clothing are far removed from those influences. We are trained to critique the conceptual within art, the aesthetic within fashion, but the true beauty of Snowballs is that Korine invites us to do both, giving the fashion a space within which to live and breathe, and indirectly imbuing the clothes with a meaning beyond artifice.