November 2014’s visual trends: peach, pigments, panning shots and raunchy fashion

This month you should be drawing inspiration from fetish fashion, Gone Girl’s lighting, muted mauves and a truly extraordinary music video for Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar.

Unsurprisingly given the proximity to the global fashion week circuit and launch of SS15 collections, the fashion world provides several of November’s landmark trends no doubt set to inspire offshoots in other disciplines. The old maxim ‘Sex sells’ is really being put through its paces this month with fetish-inspired photography rife throughout the industry and beyond.

For Diesel’s FW14 show, new creative director Nicola Formichetti commissioned filmmaker Nick Knight and SHOWstudio to produce a 17-minute film (above) to accompany the brand’s catwalk show. Split between three LED screens, the triptych mixed choreography with clips of Korean marching bands, Judas Priest live footage and Turkish oil wrestling projected on to the dancers’ semi-naked bodies, reaching a climax with snatches of acutely stylised porn by German filmmakers and S&M specialists Inside Flesh.

Not only does it usher in a significant upcoming trend of the mainstream-ification of pornography within the creative industries - largely to signal rebellion and edge - but it also heralds a bigger change within the fashion world of brands moving away from the catwalk as the primary way to show their collections. Instead designers are showcasing their clothes in film, or introducing film to the runway to create immersive 360 experiences – see Ralph Lauren’s holographic Polo for Women Spring 2015 collection projection for a prime example. Digital artists and graphic designers should watch out for more opportunities to collaborate and innovate in this sphere.

Visual trends: Fetish fancies

For an example of the fetish trend done particularly intelligently, take a look at photographer Rick Castro’s lookbook for Rick Owen’s AW14 menswear range. To shoot Owen’s gothy and largely leather-based clothes using kinky tropes (see its truncheon and submissive/dominant poses) doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination, but casting models ranging in age from 60 to 93 - including Castro’s own father - is an inspired twist.

The black and white film expertly heightens the expression of texture: the garments are sometimes the star of the show but more often than not create a flat void to frame the model’s aged skin. The result is powerful, emotive portraiture that  aims to challenge society’s norms on sexual desire and ageing. If you’re looking for further inspiration along these lines, be sure to visit the Wellcome Collection’s The Institute of Sexology exhibition, which opens in London on the 20th November.

Visual trends: Gone Girl

With a box office total of £80m and counting, Gone Girl has just become director David Fincher’s highest-grossing film. Its success is no doubt due to the appeal of its fast-paced whodunnit storyline and based-on-a-bestselling-book heritage, but there’s also plenty of take home for creatives.

Fincher is not only a master of angular, melancholic lighting, but his unnatural, sometimes awkward panning shots really put you on edge. A must-see for any filmmaker or designer wanting to unnerve their audience or watch this breakdown of Fincher’s trademark cinematography by the always astute Tony Zhou.

Unusual panning shots and mournful lighting make another key appearance this month, in Hiro Murai’s wonderful video for Flying Lotus’ Never Catch Me, featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Set at the double funeral of two young children, this extraordinary piece of filmmaking shows the power of an agile camera rig and well-timed slo-mo shots – not to mention the incredible dancers. Keen readers of this column will spot that Flying Lotus’ You’re Dead! featured in last month’s edition – as well in the shape of Shintaro Kago’s gory pre-release teaser cartoons. Now out, the top-notch creative around this record seems to be coming thick and fast – definitely one to keep an eye on as more singles are released.

Visual trends: Get hazy

In terms of colour palettes and tones, hazy muted mauves and peaches are replacing the rather loud pastel hues of earlier in the year, especially when targeting a more sophisticated audience. Take a look at the portfolio of 19-year-old photographer Lea Columbo for prime inspiration. This extremely talented Capetonian has recently relocated to Paris, and has spent her time shooting backstage and catwalk shows exclusively for magazine Dazed and Confused. The models from her shots of Alexander Wang’s AW14 show radiate with violet auras and space-age backscatter, and her latest Alexander McQueen shoot for Dazed introduces in-camera haze to the label’s again fetish-inspired SS15 collection. Promising indeed.

Danish audio brand Bang & Olufsen employ similarly muted mauve and skin tone palettes for an editorial spread for its latest magazine, directed by and starring pop siren (and sibling to Beyonce) Solange. Shot by US-based photographer Casper Sejersen, its neutral colourways are given extra oomph with soft focus filters and 70s styling by Lizzy Okpo. If the name rings a bell, it may be because Okpo and Solange have collaborated before, namely on Puma’s Girls of Blaze collection, which (as newly appointed creative director) first showcased Solange’s knack for art direction and design. Be sure to check it out if you missed it earlier in the year.

Colour and pigment itself has been the inspiration for a number of creative projects launching this month. Columbian designer Laura Daza investigated the materials behind a number of pigments for her Colour Provenance project, researching how hues were collected, mixed and stored in the past. She then presented the stones on sculptural plinths painted with their culminating shades.

Similarly Martin & Martin’s excellent video for Barcelona-based band Storms’ track Colores kookily re-imagines Charles and Ray Eames’ seminal 1977 Powers of Ten film using rocks, crystals and trays of ground pigment to show the increasing scale of the universe.

Rather than use photography as the original film did, Martin & Martin created the galactic shots towards the end of the film using swirls of oil, soap and ink to give the impression of faraway constellations, not dissimilar to techniques used by filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and Joshua Light show before him.

If it’s up your street, check out James Ginzburg’s excellent film using the same method to accompany Roly Porter’s Life Cycle of a Massive Star.

The lesson to be garnered from all of these projects is that expensive materials and kit don’t always equal success – sometimes incredible effects can be created using items found in your cupboard. Also, don’t be too imitated to cover a classic.

Visual trends: sound tuned into visions

Right at the other end of the spectrum, this month yields some top notch high-tech digital projects and groundbreaking installations. Record label Warp announced a new piece by sound artist and producer Mira Calix, Inside There Falls, this week (due to launch in Sydney in January), which involves a specially programmed labyrinth of paper where the walls speak as you navigate through them.

Similarly watch out for installations emerging out of FutureEverything Moscow, which runs from 20-23 November. With new works from Memo Akten, Semiconductor and Electroboutique and AV performances from the likes of electronic musicians Lee Gamble and Mark Fell, there’s certain to be something to inspire.

Polish avant-garde festival Unsound similarly paired designers with musicians for its multi-discipline installation Ephemera, which launched in Krakow before travelling to Oslo where it is currently on display at the Tromsø Center For Contemporary Art.

Three musicians (Ben Frost, Tim Hecker and Steve Goodman, aka Kode9) were asked to create raw sonic material that represented noise, drone and bass, which were then handed on to Berlin-based nose and perfumer Geza Schoen, who developed each into scent. These perfumes were then fed back to graphic designer Manuel Sepulveda and visual artist Marcel Webber (MFO) to create a print and film (respectively) for each in an elaborate multi-sensory game of consequences.

The results are displayed in three separate immersive and heady installations with a much-needed palette cleanser between each – a reminder not to overlook the power of smell in creative projects.

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