Interview: James Nolen
“Film is everything now in dictating people’s subconscious attitudes to style and fashion.”
- James Nolen
As the film programmer for the Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI), James Nolen views film as far more than a release in to fantasy: for him, it reads as a barometer of society’s cultural landscape, particularly as it relates to notions of style.
From the influence of The Breakfast Club in defining ‘80s style to Val Kilmer’s telling of Jim Morrison’s life in The Doors, that was the spark to ignite the leather jeans trend of the early ‘90s, the ability of film costume to exert influence on what we wear – and how – has only grown more powerful.
James: “The latest Hunger Games film is an interesting example: that one film was going to do more for that whole luxe sports industry than anything else. Costume designer Trish Somerville was looking for some contemporary high performance sportswear for the training sequence in Catching Fire and came across the label Lucas Hugh from the UK. Trish commissioned not only women's but menswear from Lucus Hugh, which was a first for the company. With the huge global success of this film, you can imagine what influence it will have on the major sportswear brands and some of the fast fashion retailers who are also expanding into sportswear, most notably, Uniqlo”
The Great Gatsby, too, has done more than its fair share to float further the gentleman’s outfitter revival that’s captured the imaginations of so many men across the city.
James: “Fashion in film completely filters down to street level, especially with Gatsby’s take on men’s fashion; those beautiful derby shoes and lovely textured socks that were a feature of the ensemble. You do see that filtering through even to mainstream at places like Top Man.”
But the film and shoe buff’s own personal style heralds from a different source: the queen of English punk rock fashion, Vivienne Westwood. She is, he believes, one of the few men’s shoe designers willing to take radical style risks in order to realise her vision.
James: “She is willing to make ugly shoes that then become beautiful in two years time. I don’t think she cares if they work, as long as they work for her.”
It is a perfect match: James is nothing if not adventurous in his choices, from today’s silver custom-made Rocco shoes to the Melbourne-made red brogues produced by a local Greek shoemaker under the Pantheon label.
James admits he pushes the boundaries, noting the regular comments received on some of his more striking pairs. But then what are shoes, he notes, if not a vehicle for self-expression?
James Nolen, ACMI film programmer.