Why Fritz Lang’s Metropolis inspire fashion

Vogue Metropolis

 

 

Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist movie  directed by Fritz Lang . The film was written by Lang and his wife Thea von Harbou , and starred Brigitte Helm, Gustav Frohlich,  Alfred Abel and Rudolf Klein-Rogge . A silent film, it was produced in the Babelsberg Studios by UFA. It is regarded as a pioneer work of science fiction  movies, being the first  feature length movie of the genre.

Made in Germany during the Weimar Period , Metropolis is set in a futuristic urban dystopia, and follows the attempts of Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, whose background is not fully explained in the film, to overcome the vast gulf separating the classes of their city. Metropolis was filmed in 1925, at a cost of approximately five million Reichmarks. Thus, it was the most expensive film ever released up to that point.

The film was met with a mixed response upon its initial release, with many critics praising its technical achievements and social metaphors while others derided its “simplistic and naïve” presentation. Because of its long running-time and the inclusion of footage which censors found questionable, Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere: large portions of the film were lost over the subsequent decades.

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Numerous attempts have been made to restore the film since the 1970s-80s. Giorgio Moroder , a music producer, released a version with a soundtrack by rock artists such as Freddie Mercury,Loverboy and Adam Ant in 1984. A new reconstruction of Metropolis was shown at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001, and the film was inscribed on UNESCO’s Memory of the world register in the same year, the first film thus distinguished. In 2008, a damaged print of Lang’s original cut of the film was found in a museum in Argentina. After a long restoration process, the film was 95% restored and shown on large screens in Berlin and Frankfurt simultaneously on 12 February 2010.

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A  lot of great designer take an inspiration from that movie like Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci and Versace’s Donatella both revealed themselves as Metropolis biggest fans.

One of the most exciting collection of  Tom Ford at London fashion week has been kept away from the cameras, but he too claimed Metropolis as an influence even Max Mara became the latest label to pay tribute to Lang’s futuristic vision, with crocodile skin, high heel polished in gold and cashmere. Rooney Mara wore one of Givenchy’s ice-white fitted gowns her vampiric makeup inspired by the cinematic heritage.

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Here the complete catwalk of Max Mara: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFPBiTNpSp8

So why Metropolis? Isn’t it a rather obscure reference point? Well no, even if you’ve never seen Metropolis, you’ve seen a film a dress or a building or a pop video that was inspired by it.

The film’s look – the teetering architecture, the lever-and-dial mechanisms, the round-shouldered workers marching in unison, and of course, the robot – is the Sex Pistols at the Lesser Free Trade Hall l of the design world. Just as the energy and the message of the 1976 gig inspired those in the small audience to form their own bands, this silent film fires the imagination of everyone who sees it.

From Blade Runner  (1982) to The Fifth Element  (1997), Madonna’s Express Yourself video’s or Billy Idol Dancing with My self,  Metropolis’s influence seeps into pop culture at every opportunity.

In 2010 Karl Lagerfeld oversaw a “Return to Metropolis” shoot for German Vogue, with a Maria robot in a cutaway bodysuit on the cover of the magazine ( you can see the cover of the article)

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That was around the time that a new almost-complete restoration of the film was released. Before that, the film had only been available in a series of cut-down versions, with many scenes missing: so you could look at Metropolis and admire its design more than you could really watch it- that is, become fully engrossed in the plot. And Metropolis is undeniably stunning to look at. The cityscapes are breathtaking, and to create the jaw-dropping scale, a system of mirrors was used to bounce the images of actors into the sets. The effect is that the urban environment dwarves and terrorises the people inside, even though the city is really a miniature set. It’s no accident that the design of the film gets under your skin: the mode is German expressionism, which used skewed perspectives and steep angles to represent the psychological derangement of the characters.

As well as representing a kind of madness, Metropolis is also a cruel city, and perhaps that is the number one reason that it has become so influential. The film connects beauty and sex to corruption and immorality.

Metropolis and Fashion

The palatial homes of the factory owners, the “Eternal Gardens” where their sons flirt with elaborately half-dressed women, the grandeur of those high-rise towers, the replicant “Maria” writhing in a head-dress and a splash of sequins. They’re all as terrible as they are beautiful, so there’s a frisson of guilt and risk in our enjoyment. And in the end, Lang doesn’t even ask us to resist their charms. The moral of the film, that “the mediator between head and hands should be the heart”, preaches paternalism and an end to hostilities, not an overthrow of the system. The city is saved from the flood and Metropolis remains intact: awe-inspiring and awful in equal measure.

Today Sci-fi and fashion are really close each others. Prepare you wardrobe for the invasion of robots!