Film Review: Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York

15 Mar

By Julian Buckeridge

There has got to be something more to the world of high fashion than what is presented in Robert Leacock’s superficial documentary Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York or else everyone involved lead incredibly empty lives. Never exploring the myriad of issues that lurk beneath the surface of the industry, Leacock’s 1996 film is pointless and as vapid as its central subject.

Leacock follows Christy Turlington through the spring fashion shows in Milan, Paris and New York over a period of three weeks. Exploring the relationship between model and designer, the documentary looks at the shows of Versace, Armani, Galliano, Gaultier, Langerfield and Mizrahi and how models like Moss, Campbell and Bruni work under pressure.

If the director believed he chose an intelligent supermodel to be the focus of this documentary, then one must question his sanity. Christy Turlington is not a character capable of leading a film and her stunning beauty is quickly forgotten after a barrage of vacuous and yawn-inducing moments. It is distracting that everyone else featured is more interesting than the protagonist. The then up-and-coming Kate Moss or sardonic Carla Bruni would have been a much better subject – they both understand their place in the world.

Leacock’s uncertain camerawork and disjointed alternation between black and white and colour footage add to the frustration. His timid direction is minutely saved by his employment of Malcolm McLaren to score the soundtrack but this is momentary salvation from a 95-minute documentary that is half an hour too long.

It is ironic that designer Isaac Mizrahi is featured in Catwalk; he was the focus of Unzipped, a far superior documentary released a year before in 1995. Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York is not the hard-hitting expose for fashion enthusiasts but proof that watching even the most beautiful women can become boring.

Catwalk: Milan, Paris, New York is playing at The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) on Thursday 17 March 2:30pm.

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