I found myself watching back to back two documentaries about the process of making art.
“Dior and I” chronicles Raf Simons as he prepares his first collection for Dior. He replaces John Galliano after the later was fired from the fashion house, so there is a lot of pressure for Simons to perform: he is an underdog choice for the brand, as he is known for his work in menswear and for his minimalist style while working for Jil Sander (He dispels that accusation) Moreover, he has to finish his collection in two months, whereas normally a designer has at least six months to prepare. We see the creative process here, and the result is a mixture of an expanded Project Runway episode and a commercial for the house itself. Frederic Tscheng is no stranger to fashion documentaries, as he was involved previously in ones about Diana Vreeland and Valentino, so he knows what he is doing here. He documents all the drama, and as we get closer to reckoning day, we feel the tension and suspense, even though I remember reading Cathryn Horn’s New York Times rave at the time of the show, so it’s not like the outcome is a surprise to me. When I finally saw the dresses on the runway, I found myself weeping – I know, I’m dramatic – because of the sheer beauty of them, and the work and love that went into these creations.
“Ballet 422” is a lot more subtle. Director Jody Ann Lipes documents the proceedings here cinema verité style – there are no talking heads or narrations here. We see exactly how Justin Peck creates the 422nd ballet of The New York CIty Ballet. He is the youngest choreographer commissioned to create one, and at the same time he is still a member of the company’s corps de ballet (sort of like a chorus member if this was a Broadway show) We see the creative process here more subtly. Just like ballet as an art it is more refined, and the most conflict we get is when one of the principal dancers has to try three times to get a specific move. This doesn’t make the whole process less emotional, as we still get to go along the creative process. And there’s a sweet irony towards the end when, after taking a bow for his work as a choreographer, he takes off his suit and changes into his costume and dances a part of the company for a piece after showcasing his work. It’s poignant, and touching and while it was never shown, Peck gets the ultimate silver lining: he was promoted to soloist for the ballet company. An arresting piece of work all around, this film.