Rag & Bone’s Marcus Wainwright Shifts Our Perspective in the Short Film, “Why Can’t We Get Along”
The brand rag & bone is a story of contrasts: English tailoring meets American workwear, uptown versus downtown, masculine and feminine—all told to customers around the globe. Sartorial storytelling is the brand’s niche, and is often led by CEO and founder Marcus Wainwright, who continually finds new mediums for his evolving fashion message.
We spoke to Wainwright ahead of his new short film (co-directed by Benjamin Millepied, Aaron Duffy, and Bob Partington and filmed by Darius Khondji), which showcases rag & bone’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection. The short, “Why Can’t We Get Along,” features dance as a metaphor for seeing from another’s point of view, and stars Kate Mara and Ansel Elgort, in addition to the label’s spring styles and a soundtrack by Thom Yorke.
“On a superficial level, I think it’s a beautiful piece of filmography that is emotionally provocative and makes people think,” says Wainwright. The film is composed of a variety of jarring camera angles that use seamlessly choreographed camera rigs. We see Ansel Elgort being tipped over in time with one camera, then he becomes the director recording dancer Kandi Reign with an iPhone. Kate Mara’s facial expressions change dramatically from frame to frame while ballerinas, hip-hop stars and parkour artists move along with a melody that repeats the question, ‘Why can’t we get along?'”
“It’s incredible to watch two completely different perspectives of what’s happening in the world unfold in front of us.”
“We started talking about the digital-obsessed world that we live in and how different people consume things in different ways,” says Wainwright, delving deeper into the question proposed in this visual experiment. And though it was not Wainwright’s intention, he doesn’t deny the relevance of the film’s message in today’s climate: “It’s incredible to watch two completely different perspectives of what’s happening in the world unfold in front of us. Different people see—or choose not to see—different things.”
However poignant, this is not Wainwright’s political manifesto, but a narrative first introduced by the clothes in his “collection of opposites.” Elgort and Mara’s all-black attire is in stunning contrast to the brightly colored ensembles of the dancers around them. Military-inspired bomber jackets and tailored English pieces are seen alongside sporty track suits, scribble-stitched logos and fluttering slip dresses, demonstrating the broadness of rag & bone’s point of view. “It represents the breadth to which something can be put together and styled and mixed,” the designer says of the brand’s signature eclecticism.
“When you put together a great team, magic is going to happen and I don’t try to dictate what that magic looks like.”
To bring his designs to life onscreen, Wainwright trusted his extraordinarily talented team, including world-class choreographer Benjamin Millepied: “We hand over a lot of creative control to the talent that we’re working with, which is a risk in a lot of ways and not something brands traditionally do.” But rag & bone is not a traditional fashion brand, and its departure from conventional ways continues to be successful. “We believe that when you put together a great team, magic is going to happen, and I don’t try to dictate what that magic looks like. In the absence of us dictating, there’s room for the idea to breathe.”
This captivating short film demonstrates the strength of creative collaboration and proves that fashion happens away from the catwalk: “Film and photography have always been mediums that we are passionate about and now is the time to do something different.” So don’t expect rag & bone to return to the runway anytime soon. The same innovation that has made it a fashion powerhouse is challenging rag & bone to change its perspective and rethink ready-to-wear from the customer’s point of view.
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