If you’re ever short of watching something that combines great fashion with excellent film making (and trust, you will be), watch Notebook on Cities and Clothes by Wim Wenders.
This is a one-of-a-kind documentary with a calm, almost soothing pace, at times uncanny, but always informative. We watch Yamamoto and Wenders ponder about fashion and film as they discover some extraordinary similarities between the two crafts.
Although this film was released over two decades ago, some of the content could not be more up-to-date. For example, Wenders narrates, “We have learned to trust the photographic image. Can we trust the electronic image? With painting everything was simple. The original was the original, and each copy was a copy – a forgery. With photography and then film that began to get complicated. The original was a negative. Without a print, it did not exist. Just the opposite, each copy was the original. But now with the electronic, and soon the digital, there is no more negative and no more positive. The very notion of the original is obsolete. Everything is a copy. All distinctions have become arbitrary.”
Both artists (or craftsmen, if you wish) discover their love for August Sander’s work within his book People of the 20th Century and are in admiration of the men and women portrayed and the sheer quality in which Sander captioned his subjects. (Self Service wrote about this book in relation to street style blogs earlier this year.)
We further learn that Yamamoto does not fear anybody copying his designs – something rather unusual within the fashion industry. Instead, he points out the importance of craftsmanship, where the how matters more than the what.
Notebook on Cities and Clothes is an outstanding portrait of one of the greatest womenswear designers seen through the lens of one of the greatest film makers – and a fantastic eyewitness to early 1990s fashion too.