Can Dressing Well Make You a Better Movie Director?

Today, A24 published its latest book, How Directors Dress, featuring incredible archival photos of filmmakers alongside a series of thoughtful essays (several of which were written by GQ contributors past and present, including Rachel Tashjian, Hagop Kourounian, and Sami Reiss). Here, we present the book’s foreword by the eternally stylish Joanna Hogg, whose movie The Souvenir: Part II we once dubbed “this era’s great fashion film.”

How you dress informs everything. It is at the heart of not just who you are at work, but who you are in life. The things you do to be accepted. How you want to appear to other people. This is true for filmmakers, as it is true for all professions.

There’s an invisibility to the role of a director. You’re trying to enter into a world you’ve created and be an observer within it. You want to bring out the best from other people—not be the focus of attention yourself.

What I wear is a crucial part of that. I don’t want to wear something that shouts,“She’s the director! She’s in charge! ”No jodhpurs, no extravagant hats, as some directors prefer. I want something very simple and work-a-day in order to move around quietly.

Courtesy of A24

I’ve always been interested in Yohji Yamamoto’s idea of workwear. It’s where I think he began as a designer and where his interest continues to be. Even as a 20-something, I gravitated to his idea of a uniform. In fact, in The Souvenir Part I and II, the main character, Julie, wears several of my own Yohji pieces to direct her first film. Just as this book is based on archival images of filmmakers’ working clothes, I showed the costume designer Grace Snell several images of myself on set from that time in order to build Julie’s working wardrobe as distinct from her clothes in the rest of her life. She takes fewer risks, and dresses to fit in with her fellow students.

I have always dreamed of not having to think about what to wear anymore, to be able to finish that conversation. Of course, this is a paradoxical impulse—I’m searching intently for clothes that will resolve the question of searching. But there are many paradoxes in life, and certainly with dressing.

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