Skating and Fashion Filmmaking Through The Lens of Antoine Plainfossé

by Sam Bassett on 23 February 2024

Intrigued by the work of emerging filmmaker, Antoine Plainfossé, our head of fashion film Sam Bassett reflects on the dichotomy between fashion and skate culture, and why the two mediums have more in common than you think.

Intrigued by the work of emerging filmmaker, Antoine Plainfossé, our head of fashion film Sam Bassett reflects on the dichotomy between fashion and skate culture, and why the two mediums have more in common than you think.

I first met filmmaker Antoine Plainfossé when he stumbled into the SHOWstudio gallery space, holding a box of chocolate biscuits and wearing Visage, his own boutique skatewear brand that sees graphic tees collide with hallucinogenic photographic prints. We had reviewed and featured his self-titled film Antoine in our Winter Fashion Film Showcase only a couple of weeks prior, deciding to open with it due to its straightforward, no-frills approach to showing clothes in movement through the lens of skate culture. However, Plainfossé isn’t just a skater; he’s a filmmaker, designer and model, and as intriguing as all this was, it was his fervent interest in both fashion film and skating that interested me (a fellow ex-skater, now filmmaker) the most.

Visage isn’t just a clothing brand, it’s a community. By arming itself with a goal that helps to ‘highlight upcoming artists, as well as skaters’, the collective brings a new perspective to Europe’s creative scene, all the while drawing inspiration from Plainfossé’s native Paris, and fusing arthouse cinema with skateboarding. ‘I had been directing skate films in Paris for a few years with my friends, and wanted to have a label to connect these projects’, Plainfossé clarified in person. ‘It helps me not only to develop my vision and creativity, but also to place other artists and skaters on the map.’ As for the young skater’s own fashion choice, Plainfossé tells me he is ‘interested in the aesthetic and elegance of fashion, the fashion films, the ads in magazines, all of it. I'm interested in fashion icons that stand out with their own style, like Daphne Guinness and I like the work of designers such as Alexander McQueen, who transcended what fashion could be, all while speaking about what is happening in the world…. It inspires me to do the same in skateboarding and film.’ As for other fashion inspirations, Shayne Oliver and Hood By Air have long served Plainfossé's cinematic point of view, sparking a new interest in the art form.

'Antoine' by Antoine Plainfossé

Although skating has always been affiliated with some sort of fashion culture (albeit, probably not high fashion, nor the Paris fashion scene), skateboarding as an art form has increasingly found its place within fashion film in recent years, most notably in Britt Lloyd’s Clothes-in-Movement for Maison Margiela. Artful yet subtle, Clothes-in-Movement draws on the tensions between skate and fashion, with its success lying in utilising skating as a vehicle to show fashion in movement - without so much as a skateboard in sight. The title really does say it all, giving way to a film that communicates as if the air surrounding the models-cum-skaters has been rendered visible, greatly influencing our understanding of how the garment works in motion. Lloyd’s approach may not highlight fashion’s relationship with skate culture specifically, but what it does do is acknowledge the sport as the perfect vessel when looking to expose the billowing beauty and movement of garments caught mid-air. Although both references juxtapose the other, Lloyd’s ability to create harmony between the two offers a romantic edge otherwise unseen in such pairings.

'Clothes-in-Movement' by Britt Lloyd for Maison Margiela

Motion is the one defining factor both mediums uphold. Sure, there are many similarities that mimic each other, but most importantly, fashion film and skating share the singular philosophy of making clothes, skateboards, whatever it is, move; fashion film is clothes in motion and skate film is, well, skating in motion. Another thing they share in common is the outsider-insider approach. There are voyeuristic tendencies to both industries that often feels uncannily familiar at times. Take, for instance, the very notion of a skate park, where a stage is derived from the built environment. These venues don’t just attract skaters but members of the public too - those who watch, glance, hide, smirk and flirt - often all at the same time. These are onlookers and without them, skate culture would not be what it is today; they help turn the streets into a showcase where skaters push our boundaries on what style is. It’s the same with a fashion show; what’s the point of a runway without all the onlookers, spectators, press, content creators and celebrities? These are models built to serve their respective industries and although many campaign for change, the idea of attending a fashion show and simply ‘hanging out’ at a skate park are as old as they are still very much exciting for younger generations. As long as there is excitement, traditions very much continue.

‘The public are interested in watching the style of their favourite skaters, as much as the tricks they do’, Plainfossé certifies, before adding ‘the skaters bring motion and personality to the clothes’. In the same way that a good fashion model does. What can be generated by both skating and fashion is an aspirational quality that momentarily suspends belief, or evokes a dream. But also, can be completely polarising due to its use of provocation.

'UNWORDABLE' by Antoine Plainfossé

The idea of provocation is one that appears time and time again in fashion. Plainfossé's aforementioned inspiration Shayne Oliver is only too familiar with such a term, as was the late great Alexander McQueen; whose name may be somewhat of a cliche to mention regarding this topic, but his ineffable use of provocation is the reason we all still talk about it so frequently. One of his more illustrious examples arrives in the context of his A/W 95 collection Highland Rape; a spectacular showcase of talent that was met with an equal amount of shock and the press touting him a misogynist - a term that haunted the designer for the rest of his career. Clothes were torn, stained and soiled, scarcely providing coverage for the models' bodies, who took on characters as they paraded down the runway, kicking not only the dead shrubbery but sometimes each other, too. Least to say, it was shocking, but it's not the only case of provocation in McQueen’s work, nor in culture at large.

This anti-establishment sentiment - through the lens of provocation - is something that is just as important in skateboarding, which, at its core, is a geographical form of political protest armed with an ability to recontextualise any environment it finds itself within. For Plainfossé, his own surroundings are chosen with such meticulous care, it would be reckless to think the architecture in his films has just appeared by happenstance. Nothing is a coincidence, whether in fashion or in skating. Courtyards, car parks and galleries are his playgrounds, the latter being of particular interest. ‘I think the architecture of museums is what connects them to skateboarding’, Plainfossé reveals. ‘There is often a place in front of Paris’ big museums that skaters can take advantage of. It's like the architect consciously or unconsciously wants to let the skaters use the place, to make it more alive.’

'SHIFT' by Visage / Antoine Plainfossé

As we wait to see what other iterations of fashion and skateboarding films are yet to come, Plainfossé looks to move in a different direction. His film NightDrEAm - the first of his without skateboarding - features two models walking around Paris’ Pigalle neighbourhood at night, next to the Montparnasse tower. Regarding inspirations for this film, Plainfossé is eager to cite Sarah Burton’s Alexander McQueen S/S14 Campaign by Steven Klein; a literal ode to fashion rather than a metaphysical one. Regardless, the reality of what Plainfossé does is that it's not always going to be accepted. He joked casually with me in the studio about how he is ‘a bit of an outcast’, the fashion crowd viewing him as a skateboarder and skaters viewing him as a ‘fashion guy’. What’s really at play here is that Plainfossé might just be occupying a liminal space, in the grey zone between two art forms that on the surface may seem to oppose each other, but underneath uphold the same value structure.

NightDrEAm by Visage / Antoine Plainfossé



Fashion Film Showcase: Winter 2023

22 December 2023
This winter's fashion film showcase includes submissions by filmmakers from across the globe sent into SHOWstudio in recent weeks, but what do the professionals think?

Palace X Moschino Collaboration is A Skater's Paradise

20 November 2020
Presenting a collection full of 'peace, love and hugs,' Palace have teamed up with Moschino, to humorously merge high fashion with skate wear.

Lanvin Present Skate-Inspired Capsule 'Poetry in Motion'

05 November 2021
Inspired by skate culture and Hugh Holland's 1970s depictions of California, Lanvin's Poetry in Motion is a love letter to skaters around the globe.
Back to top