The director behind The Director

ELLE meets Christina Voros

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What does it take to lead an international megabrand? That’s the question that drove Christina Voros and James Franco to produce , a new documentary about Gucci creative director Frida Giannini.

The film covers 18 months in the Gucci-verse, from the autumn/winter 2012 menswear show to the spring/summer 2013 womenswear show.

‘It was a bit of a dance in the beginning,’ Voros said. ‘Fashion and documentary are almost antithetical to one another because one is about perfection, and the other is about pulling that back and trying to find what’s underneath.’

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As it happened, Voros’s timing couldn’t have been better. She ended up filming over a period during which Giannini first disclosed her relationship with Gucci CEO Patrizio Di Marco, and then discreetly announced that she was expecting her first child. Giannini gave birth to daughter Greta in March.

We caught up with Voros after a screening at the Tribeca Film Festival…

How did you come to make this film?

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James Franco and I have been working together for five years. He was at an event with Frida in Rome a few years ago and I remember him saying, ‘I really want to do a documentary on Frida.’ So he brought the idea to me.

How did coming to the topic through someone so closely aligned with the brand affect your filmmaking?

Part of the reason James asked me to do it was that he felt it was something he couldn’t do. He was on the inside and felt that the subject required someone who understood that world, but wasn’t embedded in it.

Was anything off-limits?

Nothing they allowed me to film was off-limits. They never said, ‘You can’t shoot this’; they would say, ‘You can shoot this.’ At the beginning, they were a little reticent because I was an unknown quantity. There was a fear of letting cameras into places they hadn’t been before, not completely understanding what my approach might be. But also, very simply, there was some concern about how disruptive our presence would be to the work itself—whether having a camera crew and a boom pole in a room full of people trying to come up with brilliant ideas would get in the way.

It’s a really interesting period for Frida personally…

It’s one of my favourite parts of the film, because as a creative woman who is juggling the balance between personal life and career, I think she’s a really beautiful role model. I never anticipated this film would address those subjects.

How did Frida react to the film?

She was very supportive. There was an earlier, longer cut that I shared with her—not out of obligation, but out of respect and trust—and her notes were really great. I did hold my breath a little when I showed it to her. I don’t know how I’d feel about someone putting me in a movie without makeup on, or in the ninth hour of casting two days before the biggest day of my year, the women’s show. Because fashion is about that vigilant adherence to perfection, I was both impressed and grateful that Frida looked at it as a film, and not as a self-conscious person. For someone who is so private, it was a real gift.

What surprised you most when you were making the film?

There’s a real shyness to Frida. She doesn’t seek out the spotlight. She would much rather be in the studio with her team, making things, than in front of a big group of people. She’s charismatic and gracious and well-spoken, and has an ease when she speaks in public that is incredibly arresting. But it’s not where she’d most like to be… Fashion is so full of people who want their name out there—the brand of them—and Frida’s a much quieter presence.

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