Models, more often than not, are accustomed to expressing their personality in silence; their individual quirks and characteristics channelled into careful poses for one-dimensional photographs. While many are encouraged by their agencies to diarise their lives, careers and personal style repertoire through the medium of Instagram or Snapchat, the majority are still taken at face value. For Paris-based photographer and filmmaker François Pragnère, exposing the psyches behind some of the world’s most genetically blessed women was reason enough to pick up his camera and embark on a personal video project. “For almost two years now, I’ve been lucky enough to shoot the new faces for Viva models,” he says. “These women are obviously beautiful, but they also have strong personalities.”
Having nurtured relationships with three of the agency’s most sought-after new faces – Dilone, Estella, and Lena – Pragnère decided that these three striking young women, with equally striking personalities, would make the ideal protagonists for his triptych of short videos. Thus, when Spring/Summer 2016 Couture fashion week rolled into town, Pragnère worked around the models’ hectic schedules to pin down time for filming. The process, he maintains, was “very clinical. I always shot the video first and then afterwards I would shoot still life portraits with an analogue camera, which felt a little more human.”
The inaugural scene of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion (1965), in which a somewhat disarmingly close shot of a blinking eyeball languidly zooms out to reveal the face of an alluring actress (none other than a budding Catherine Deneuve), was at the forefront of Pragnère's mind when plotting the creative treatment for the project. “But, I wanted to add an extra element of surprise,” he explains. And so, while eyes remain the focal point of each video, the footage is overlaid with a candid sound bite from each model disclosing an intimate story about their lives. As he notes, “the first contact between two people comes from the eyes. The eyes reflect a person’s personality, therefore I wanted to get as close as possible in order to decipher each girl’s character.”
In the first installment of this tender and unusually candid video triptych, Pragnère gets under the skin of the hypnotic 21-year-old beauty Dilon – who, this year alone, has graced the runways of Bottega Veneta, Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and more.
Credits: Model Dilone at Viva; Film Direction and Editing: François Pragnère; DOP: Shirley Monsarrat; Camera Assistant: Simon Nagel; Boom Operator: Mikhael Kurc; Colour Grading: Tom Bouchet; Hair Stylist: Maxime Macé; Hair Assistant: Asa Lien; Make-up: Satoko Watanabe; Make-up Assistant: Anna Sadamori; Production: Mathilde Wacogne; Production Assistant: Carole Cieutat