The next film in ITV’s doc strand, Fresh Cuts, for rising Black filmmakers, is Salomé- Dior Williams’ film, Black In Fashion.
Exploring the contribution of Black culture and design on mainstream British fashion, from the street, to the club,to the catwalk. The film follows the UK’s first Black Fashion Gala, GUAP, as they attempt to put on a first of its kind show at the iconic Natural History Museum. An illustrious list of fashion insiders, designers and stylists give context and explain how Black Fashion is British Fashion. Narrated by Radio 1xtra’s Remi Burgz. .
Salomé- Dior Williams explains how the film came together.
I was lucky enough to work across the development slate for Fresh Cuts at the beginning of the year. I created a slate of areas that had enough depth and history that could be mined across the series. When I left, the company was considering whether to give applicants fully formed ideas from the slate, which would have ruled me out of the scheme for fairness. Thankfully they opened the project out to people pitching with or without an idea. Months later I decided to apply for the scheme and thankfully got it. In my interview, I was asked, which of the slate were my top 3 ideas to make, and Black in Fashion was top of that list.
Because I had worked up the development slate, I had a pretty clear idea of how I wanted to tell the story. Fashion as an industry is considered a privilege much like TV. This makes it harder for viewers to empathise with the protagonists. So, to strike a balance I pulled from some of my favourite films and used aspects as reference. The time countdown in my actuality story is something that I enjoyed in the Netflix Channel documentary “7 Days Out”. The Greek chorus of voices that told stories of British fashion’s brightest and best designers and tastemakers was something I loved from many SVOD documentaries particularly “They Gotta Have Us.”
The mixing of these styles made it easier to create a hybrid narrative device that allows the viewer to get the historical context that gives insight on why fashion is more than just the clothes on our backs; whilst growing to love and root for my main actuality story, GUAP, as they put on their gala. My aim was for the two different styles to help take us from past to present.
I found my main story through social media and with the help of a friend. I had watched the GUAP gala last year through the stories and posts of all my favourite creatives. The theme and red carpet blew me away. Unfortunately, last year it was in October so I assumed it wouldn’t be able to shoot it in time. Thankfully a good friend recommended I check and helped put me in contact with them. Last year was scheduled for September but unfortunately due to the tragic loss of the late Queen Elizabeth it delayed. This year however was schedule for their original date to coincide with fashion week, and the rest was history.
Remi Burgz was a natural choice for a narrator. She is a close friend to the GUAP team but also featured naturally in the film from start to finish. For my master interviews, I really wanted to get a collection of people who have affected and changed British fashion in some capacity. Thankfully the community were super open to helping and I had a mix of designers, curators, stylists, and authors that and contributed to the evaluation of or the documentation of British fashion.
The schedule was extremely tight. After coming back, I redeveloped the film and repatched the film our commissioners after 2.5 days back in the office. The film continued to evolve due to access. But because the format remained the same, it was a lot easier to slot in the talent afterwards.
Production was an ongoing journey on this project. The bulk of the shooting was done in June and July. But because the gala was in mid-September (originally the last day of my online edit) I had to leave the edit to shoot the end of part 3 and the whole of part 4. That was challenging, but thankful we were able to overcome it with the help of ITV’s in-house team, my series producer and my editors.
I really love the look of SVOD documentaries, and I wanted the film to have a slightly polished edge despite the fast turnaround. Also, the film is about fashion, a visual medium, and I wanted it to look sharp.
I really wanted this film to reframe the black British stories we usually see on screen, particularly during black history month. The film is about black excellence, despite adversity and how the people who came before us paved the way for a new generation who in turn are paying it forward. Black people are not a monolith, and with the film, we manage to explore inequality without dwelling on it; it sees, young CEOs, designers, master tailors, and creatives, showing that being black and British is limitless.
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