TODD COLE ON SHOOTING RODARTE'S FALL/WINTER 2021 COLLECTION
Rodarte and I have collaborated many, many times over the last 12 years. We’ve shot multiple editorial projects for magazines like Pop, Purple, and Paper, and I’ve directed three award-winning short films for them. It’s been a minute, though, since we’ve done a project together, so I was happy when [Rodarte cofounder] Laura [Mulleavy] reached out to me to collaborate with them on the launch of their FW21 collection.
The concept was simply to make something artistic with our friends. Kate and Laura and I have always shared the same sources of inspiration, and it’s almost freaky how our visual references are always the same. For this project, we were talking about Italian romantic cinema, LA ’90s culture, Venice (Italy), Bob Fosse… Honestly, I wasn’t sure how their collection and these disparate references would merge into a coherent collection of images, but I had such faith in the strength of our longtime collaboration, as well as our mandate of doing the project with our friends—and, most important, our shared insistence on being free and taking chances creatively. Generally, in my experience, these are all key ingredients to making something new and exciting.
There’s this David Bowie quote that I have always loved and always try to summon when working, and it seemed completely appropriate leading up to this project:
“Always go a little further into the water than you feel you're capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth. And when you don't feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you're just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
We all had a blast shooting two days on this little beach right on the Ventura County line. I shot a little video. Early on, we were designing a much larger short-film component, and I actually began writing a script that took place in a ’90s video store, à la Vidiots, with kids flashing back to their memories of a film on a faded VHS. We had to shelve that idea because of Covid budget constraints. But I kept the video-camera idea. I’ve crossed the rubicon and I am now the cinematographer for my motion work. I sourced a vintage 1980s Japanese news camera to shoot this project and capture the feeling I was going for.
The collection has some Day-Glo pieces, and I knew that this camera, if used in a particular way, would leave very bright effects that trailed the subject. So that was my simple, beautiful, creative solution.
And, of course, we were so happy that Alicia [Silverstone] joined our creative circle for this. She’s an icon and a lovely person, and she was a part of my ’90s MTV lifestyle, which has now come full circle.