New film Interior Motives explores the links between fashion and interiors

Michèle Lamy of Rick Owens

If fashion is a party girl, interiors would be its older sister trying to study philosophy upstairs, but the two have more in common than you might think. New documentary Interior Motives provides fascinating insights into the cross-over between both fields.

Interior Motives by filmmaker Natalie Shirinian features interviews with industry heavyweights including Tommy Hilfiger, Michèle Lamy (Rick Owens’ creative collaborator and wife), interior designer and TV star Mary McDonald (a former milliner), and Gabriel Hendifar from interiors studio Apparatus (who studied costume design and started in fashion). The score was composed by Morgan Kibby of White Sea (who also co-wrote M83’s hit song Midnight City).

We caught up with Shirinian to find out what the two can learn from each other.

Natalie Shirinian, director of Interior Motives

Why did you decide to make this film?
I was working on a design event in Los Angeles a few years ago where the theme was fashion and interiors, and the conversation was very much about ‘Let’s make sure that fashion doesn’t take over’ – because fashion tends to do that. But I remember thinking there are so many beautiful connections between the two, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make a visual display of how the two worlds come together.

How would you characterise the link between fashion and interiors?
It’s a natural progression, because both fields are dealing with fabrics, textiles and finishes. At Salone del Mobile in Milan this year, it was incredible to see how many fashion brands were showcasing home products – everyone from Marni to Versace and Loewe. It’s all about creating a lifestyle and seeing the brand as more than one thing.

Why don’t we see more interiors brands move into fashion?
Maybe because fashion designers usually have a clearer public profile that they can leverage in other areas. It’s really about credibility. Making a leap into a different path can be a risk for interior designers and brands, who may not have the same name recognition in fashion. Kelly Wearstler did it, but that’s rare.

Lighting designer Lindsey Adelman

What can fashion learn from interiors?
Interiors is a slower process, and it is valued over a longer period, and I think fashion can learn from that. Fashion moves so fast. I couldn’t tell you what The Row put out in its last collection, because there are so many other collections at the same time, but if I see an interior that I connect with, I will remember it, and I can recall the details. I think interiors can have a more memorable impact.

And what can interiors learn from fashion?
Interiors tends to takes itself more seriously, and it could learn not to. I also think some interior designers can lose themselves in strictly what the client wants, when the best results often come when you have freedom to express your point of view – and that is what fashion designers do all the time. But things are changing. Interior designers are evoking their personal style more into their spaces. You can now say, ‘That’s a Mary McDonald space, or that’s an Axel Vervoordt space’ the same way you might say ‘That’s a Gucci sneaker.’

What’s the most interesting thing you learnt, making the film?
One interesting observation is that the designers who started in fashion tended to want to film in their stores, whereas those who came from interiors were more comfortable filming in their homes. Tommy Hilfiger, Michèle Lamy, and Maria Cornejo all wanted to do the interviews in their retail spaces. It shows that the fashion designers are more comfortable talking from a brand perspective, like, ‘This is my store, this is my brand, it’s part of my name.’

Fashion designer Maria Cornejo

What are your favourite fashion/interiors cross-overs?
Definitely The Rug Company, which has collaborated with Rodarte, Jonathan Saunders, Diane von Furstenberg, and more. Each is such a unique representation of the designer. For some fashion designers, interiors is such a natural extension that carries over so seamlessly. Loewe and Rick Owens do that so well.

What was your highlight, making the film?
Michèle Lamy was brilliant. I want to get all the footage of her and put it into one documentary. I was most nervous about interviewing Tommy Hilfiger, but he was so great and so prepared. That’s what I loved about him. I was actually too nervous to do the interview. I said to my co-director, ‘You do it. I’ll be back here.’

Interior Motives is screening on August 11 at the Rhode Island International Film Festival. Get tickets here

Watch the trailer for Interior Motives here

Michèle Lamy of Rick Owens

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