James Joseph discusses the dark arts

James Joseph owns the world's largest and most comprehensive dark fashion website: Stylenoir Magazine. Launched in 2009, the magazine has become a gathering point for the dark community, covering both fashion editorials and films which portray a vision of gothic, and dark overtones.

Joseph's personal style and individual tastes have often been highlighted, and admired for being edgy, and drama inducing. He has been featured in many publications including the New York Times, Notion Magazine, Italian Vogue, Fashion indie and Deviant Art.

As we approach the London Fashion Week, the anticipation for this year's new fashion film lineup, sponsored by Canon is high.

Find out why fashion films are becoming more prevalent and discover Joseph's personal style, and interpretation of this rising phenomenon.

Iain: More and more fashion designers are turning to short videos as an alternative to the catwalk. Why do you think this is happening?

James: I think the main reason is simply money, since we've been through a recession and fashion shows are vastly expensive. They can be anywhere from £30,000 to £120,000 for the top names, and while fashion shows are exciting and the press get to experience the clothes up front and personal, brands are limited to how many people they can invite and its difficult to seat everyone who deserves a ticket.

Iain: What kind of fashion films are emerging?

James: I think that Thomas Knights is a big fashion film director that's emerging at the moment out of London, as well as fashion brands such as Ada Zanditon and Fred Butler moving to film.

There seems to be a split between the intense and dramatic aesthetic, and a more lighthearted, chic approach such as the Quentin Tarantino homage from Ada Zanditon.

Iain: Which films would you say have successfully incorporated dark fashion into storytelling?

James: The collaboration between Nick Knight and Alexander McQueen for Plato's Atlantis was both unnerving and uncomfortable to watch, which portrayed a much darker aesthetic which is in line with Lee McQueen.

Plato's Atlantis video

The intense use of snake creatures within the film evokes a much more iniquitous emotion.

In a more commercial angle, the Gareth Pugh for M.A.C cosmetics film gave a dramatic macabre approach which was refreshing to see from such a large corporate brand, yet romantic and beautiful in the same way.

Gareth Pugh for M.A.C

Iain: What would you say makes a good fashion film?

James: A good, strong concept and vision whilst keeping the film centred around the collection that it should be showcasing. Also keeping things simple and making sure that the film is a short length, normally 3-6 minutes.

The Hannah Marshall SS2011 film by Rankin is a great example of the aforementioned as well as Ada Zandition's Simia Mineralis.

Hannah Marshall SS2011

Iain: From a set design point of view, what would you say makes a good dark, sinister interior?

James: Creating a tense mood is a priority so producing strong shadows and the right tone of lighting is essential.

A diverse range of both strong and delicate textures is always required. People often forget that darkness is about the suggestion of torment and fear, not unquestionable strength.

Iain: How would you go about creating the look of a dark character?

James: Emotion and the amount of malevolence is key to creating the character's aesthetic as even in dark culture there's a broad spectrum of personalities.

As a starting point, I always find history and ancient mythology a great reference which gives the character substance and accuracy within modern culture.

Iain: In cinema, can you give a reference to a movie or a franchise that has successfully incorporated dark fashion, and emotive storytelling?

James: The obvious cult macabre stylings are in 'Edward Scissorhands'. The costume and thought into Edward's fashion was outstanding. In more recent years, the real stand out has to be the Underworld film franchise starring Kate Beckinsale. The cultural accuracy in both men's wear and women's wear is simply beautiful throughout all 4 films.

A more future-forward example would be 'Resident Evil', with Alice Abernathy's styling. It will be exciting to see what 'Resident Evil : Retribution' brings on September 28th.

To find out more on James check out Stylenoir Magazine

(Photography by Merry Phillips)

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