Glamour shots: La Jolla to host first U.S. fashion film festival


“We’re really debuting, showcasing, a new art form developing around the world.”

Fred Sweet,

fashion film festival founder

Haute couture takes to the big screen at the La Jolla Fashion Film Festival, a first-of-its-kind event in the U.S. created to showcase the technological evolution of fashion marketing, branding and consumer outreach.

Developed and produced by Fred Sweet, chief executive officer of San Diego Model Management, the festival will open April 23 at Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, 7946 Ivanhoe Ave., in La Jolla with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. that will include informal modeling, art installation, mixing with industry professionals, swag bags and refreshments.

It will continue the next afternoon at noon at the La Jolla Cove Bridge Club, 1160 Coast Blvd., with a series of seminars and panel discussions on fashion and media, followed by a showing of fashion films on a giant, outdoor movie screen and the finale party.

“The goal is to gather a community of short fashion film creators,” Sweet said. “Aside from the creator community, we wanted something the fashion media would love to have.”

Art meets advertising

A part of the fashion industry since the late 1970s, Sweet said he has had a fascination for the Internet since its infancy in the latter decades of the 20th century. He attributes the development of fashion films to that global technology.

Sweet said the Internet has fractured traditional fashion distribution outlets, namely glossy magazines that catered to a very select audience. Through forums such as blogging, social media, digital feeds and online networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the fashion opinion has become democratized.

“I’ve always been interested in how fashion presented itself on the Internet,” Sweet said. “For the past few years, I’ve noticed more and more video on the fashion sites. In the beginning, when people would put the fashion show in the Internet, it was like, wow. (But now) seeing models going up and down a runway isn’t so fabulous.

“As the fashion emphasis moved from print to the Internet, it also switched from the still image to the moving image.”

While Sweet has traced fashion film production back to the late ‘60s, he said the genre has really exploded in the last five years or so.

“The brands slowly started to realize the need to engage customers in a different way,” Sweet said. “They have to connect on a level that is more emotional, more basic.”

Fashion films can generally be divided into two types: brand-produced and free-lance. The first refers to films produced by an established brand, such as Prada or Gucci. The second are films fashioned by video directors hoping to work with the big-name houses.

Fashion film shorts are typically between two and 10 minutes, may have a story line or be less-defined “art” pieces, with budgets ranging from low end up into the millions of dollars.

Sweet said even small, relatively unknown designers are finding money for video production: “It’s becoming an essential part of fashion marketing.”

The inaugural American fashion film festival

For more than a year, Sweet has been designing his own fashion statement, a proclamation he hopes rings loud and clear around the world.

“I know that sounds a little over the top right now, I admit it,” Sweet said. “But it’s a world community we live in now, and I want an event that at least its goal is to attract a worldwide audience.”

He chose La Jolla to build off its reputation as a beautiful, exciting destination among the jet set. In addition, the fashion film festival was created to emulate New York Fashion Week. “The reason it has so much excitement and press coverage,” Sweet said, “is because it has the industry going to it; it has credibility.”

While Sweet has yet to attract the likes of Christian Louboutin or Karl Lagerfeld, his debut event is drawing attendance from those in high-end fashion, particularly film directors. His target audience includes anyone remotely connected with fashion from a marketing, media, advertising, promotion, sales or consumerism angle: “Anyone with an interest in cutting-edge fashion presentation and how it’s integrating into this new medium.”

One of the key draws behind this event is the entertainment value of the films. Sweet and his staff combed through more than 5,000 clips to curate an exceptional exhibition. The showing will include six world premieres.

“We’re really debuting, showcasing, a new art form developing around the world,” Sweet said.

If you go

  • What: La Jolla Fashion Film Festival
  • Details: Worldwide fashion film shorts, top industry professionals, seminars, panels and more
  • When: April 23–24
  • Where: Contemporary Fine Arts Gallery, La Jolla Cove Bridge Club
  • Tickets: All-access pass $90; individual events $15-$50 at