Watch MJ Harper Dance Hypnotically in This Random Identities Film

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DOMESTIC (between wars) Random Identities film MJ Harper
DOMESTIC (between wars), 2020(Film still)

Stefano Pilati debuts a Random Identities film entitled DOMESTIC (between wars), featuring MJ Harper who moves in a way reminiscent of the old haute couture days

The coronavirus pandemic has forced fashion designers to radically rethink the ways in which they present their collections, resulting in a fashion film revival of sorts – a veritable flurry of ingenuity. Over the course of the past month, we have seen a slew of filmic fashion presentations, spanning mens- and womenswear, ready-to-wear and haute couture; creations as diverse as the brands themselves. Yesterday, Stefano Pilati debuted a Random Identities film entitled DOMESTIC (between wars), starring performance artist MJ Harper. Shot at Pilati’s home in Berlin, the film explores the idea of being creative while simultaneously questioning your own existence, thanks to the circumstances you find yourself in – circumstances that Pilati likens to “a world at war”. A feeling many of us may be able to relate to.

“It’s a 16mm film, using different lenses to shoot different angles of MJ Harper wearing various looks always revealed by entering or exiting a room with sliding doors,” the designer tells AnOther, writing over email. “It is a direct dialogue between the viewer and the character, where a predictable formatted narrative doesn’t affect a story to tell or to imagine. I guess I am describing the essential nature of the work of a fashion designer, the muse and the purpose of a fashion show or fashion presentation.”

The film itself, which is the result of a collaboration with director Konstantin Bock and cinematographer Christopher Aoun, and features original music by composers Isola Music and saxophonist Mat Clasen, even references traditional means of fashion presentation – specifically the haute couture shows of old. These presentations – which were humble, particularly by today’s high-production, high-voltage standards – would often be held at the fashion houses themselves, with only a handful of guests present; clients and perhaps a few members of the press. Set in Pilati’s home, this film reflects this intimacy, with Harper moving hypnotically through the rooms, in a way that is reminiscent of those original haute couture models.

Harper himself, who is a classically trained dancer and movement director in addition to a model, appeared in Random Identities’ Spring/Summer 2020 show, which was held in Florence this January as part of Pitti Uomo. This show was captured in a film entitled HEAD CAM, which not only represents a prequel to DOMESTIC (between wars), but demonstrates the contrast between fashion shows – and the state of fashion more widely – between January and July; then and now. Pilati’s first runway outing since he took his last bow at Ermenegildo Zegna Couture Autumn/Winter 2016 collection, the show was also our first in-real-life glimpse into his Random Identities’ world, which, prior to that, he had both showcased and retailed digitally since its inception in 2017.

“We are all random identities, everyone’s potential business when we think of fashion and its consumption,” Pilati says of his project. “I want to create intimacy and life with my clothes; what comes naturally from the heart includes the painful reality to exclude in order to protect ourselves, the ones we love, who we fear and who we please. A classic dynamic of domestic and familiar environments, we find [ourselves] forced to accept since we are born, but also, a classic reflection of forced isolation.

“I have escaped the insensitive purpose of selling clothes and let the appreciation of being surrounded by incredibly talented and unique artists prevail,” he continues. “Heavily weighed down by the circumstances we are facing daily, between horror and aversion, I believe the result is a film that simply wants to document who and where I am right now. Looking at timeless fashion that fits the moment instead of ‘temporality’. Styling items from the past, the present and the future fits the best my creative process and vision so that my freedom and space can be honestly shared. It keeps me grateful to anyone interested in supporting my brand, which could be customers, media, followers or friends.”

Watch DOMESTIC (between wars) below: