Mode In France

William Klein’s 1985 feature takes on the world of French fashion design. Split into 13 separate sketches, each of which is done in collaboration with a well-known designer (Kenzo, Lagerfeld, Daumas, Lacroix, Gaultier, Alaia, Castelbajac, Montana, Thomass, etc), this semisatire generally goes after glitzy excess, which is Klein’s usual stock-in-trade. The Thomass segment, which is probably the most interesting, offers interviews with various foreign models as if they were porn in peep-show arcades; the Kenzo episode offers models in a police lineup, film noir style; Alaia’s section features Grace Jones and Linda Spierring reading aloud from Marivaux and giggling, with a costume change every few lines. Although Klein’s eye is as sharp as ever, his feeling for narrative is somewhat fuzzy, and most of these sketches come across as rather shapeless. Yet the pronounced Frenchness of this film gives it a certain exoticism: unlike most French pictures of the period, this offers a pretty accurate portrait of Parisian pop culture in the 80s. (JR)

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