The Greatest Luxury, Kathryn Ferguson’s vibrant, bold short docu-commercial, or this arty presentation of the fashion biz, or even a surreal promo of sartorial splendor, might not cater to everyone’s taste. But its about as fabulous as you can get in under five minutes.
The final official selection short film to be showcased in the Femme Filmmakers Festival is a buzzing, bravura way to close the in-competition chapter of the event. An array of bombastic, beautifully designed costumes, at times you might be mistaken for being kicked into another time or space.
Styles to be interpreted in all manner of ways – melancholic blues, funky violets, reflective attire – spun through a visual yarn like a kaleidoscope. And the interior landscape, a large house of spacious rooms, gives as good as it gets in this kind of extravagant beauty show.
Walls fittingly wallpapered like a giant doll’s house. Every single room has an eccentrically different decor – purple lace draping across the stairway, a bath devoured to look like a florist, plastic covered furniture and walls of blues and blacks. There’s even human window displays.
Kathryn Ferguson might not be much interested in directly telling a story or documenting history, but she clearly has an eye for the contrasting visuals amidst the colors and the curves. Her camera keeps its distant, but picks up every spec of elegance and chic. Expressive dance movements sway across the frame (those human window people too), dry ice ebbs across the sandy wood flooring, bodies blend and bend into the furniture and walls.
To compliment The Greatest Luxury‘s eye-popping panorama, the voices of these, can we say, characters, let words flow out as thoughts flash by, Ear-hooking music shifts with the mood / room / performance. There’s no time, then, to switch off your mind or wane your attention span. Mini-chapters, segments, flick on by, all who are present get their screen time and moment to shine.
Quite literally in one case. The man with the jagged quiff, and the bone structure to match his silver suit. A kind of aluminium space suit for the office industry. And the bushy-haired belle, spinning around the halls, the strawberry pink corridors, as though the ravishing air around her compels her to do so.
To say this is over the top in places is an understatement. Not that I am nit-picking, not at all. The luminous, lavish look of The Greatest Luxury is indeed a real treat. Indulgent in its content, ambitious in its scope, and snappy in its execution. Ferguson has molded a gorgeous, vapid display of filmic bliss. Edited with panache and gusto, and with some of the most illustrious costume and set decoration of any film, short or feature.
And there is something undeniably pleasing, a sense of comfort, about the fact everything somehow matches, and not in an obvious way. The outfits, the inside of the rooms, the textures within every frame. Even the faces of the performers on show, as varied in skin tones, expressions, hairstyles, as the main components of the film. And you don’t have to be a fashion designer or runway model to recognize the beauty of The Greatest Luxury.