"I was walking along a street in Paris when a man stopped his car and asked me, 'Are you going to the beach?'. My transparent top was apparently not appropriate to wear in the city. If I was a boy, would this man question my clothing?"

This is the experience of Constance Maillet, a French director and screenwriter whose work calls into question traditional gender norms and notions of femininity. Moments like this are the reason for her work, and her latest film for Roland Mouret dissects this notion of the male gaze further

She is one of three female filmmakers, Netti Hurley and Charlie Max being the other two, that have been commissioned by the womenswear designer to create films exploring female identity. Roland gave each director a simple brief and complete creative control; to each create a film based on the female experience. "I wanted to select upcoming directors with very different styles and perspectives, but each have a very clear vision in their work, and all three have a compelling way of telling women’s stories," shares Roland. "I love that each film is very different in how they have interpreted the brief. They have conveyed many aspects of the female identity and experience of womanhood through their lens." 

Charlie Max highlights the power of female community through her joyous film, which notes the importance of women supporting other women. "The energy that women bring to a space is fully unique – it’s grounded, it’s wise, it’s supportive, it’s loving," Charlie explains. "Having communities full of diverse women, who listen and share and help one another grow, allows us to broaden our perspectives and improve the spaces we’re in. When women support other women, our society is strengthened." Netti Hurley used her platform to spotlight the subtle but beautiful moments that exist for women. "We're constantly growing and evolving, so being a woman carries different identities as we age," she says. "I wanted to represent this as well as highlighting the demands of women: work, motherhood, beauty, identity and so on." 

Constance's film features brother and sister, Manon and Jules Azem, dancing, but the close-up shots of their floating clothes moving with the dance routine begs the viewer to question whose body is whose. The ambiguity showcases how different gazes can create different perceptions of the body

Watch Constance's film above, and find out more about the meaning of the film below.

Having been given complete creative freedom with this film, what was your starting point? Did the message you wanted to present change whilst you were still developing the film?
It's not the first time I work with Roland and we always work together in the same way: we talk for a long time and then exchange our different points of view on the subject. We never talk about a movie, a photo, a text, but how we feel about the things we want to talk about. It's extremely stimulating and enriching, I love his way to work!

Your film questions how the gaze still continues to influence our perception of the female body and clothing, what would you say this perception is?
The goal of this film is to lose the viewer so that they don’t know which body they are watching – is it Jules or Manon? If the spectator doesn’t know which gender is wearing the dress, how do they feel about the clothes?

The concept of gender norms and fluidity is common within your work. How does your approach in this film differ from your past work? What message were you trying to give?
We all have had to wear a certain ‘uniform’ for thousands of years. Those uniforms define our sexuality: when you are a heterosexual female, you have to be attractive to a man that looks like a stereotypical male. I don't believe in this way of living. Clothes influence the way we move. In this film, I really want the viewer not to see gender but to see a body in action. As Jules and Manon are wearing the same dress, you're only focused on their own way of moving, loving and discovering of their own body in the fabric.

How do you think Roland Mouret clothes empower women? And why do you think the chosen looks worked so well for your film?
Roland is a magician. It’s really hard to explain, but his clothes instil confidence, it is almost epidermic. The dress we worked with (and this dress is definitely a third character in the film) was totally perfect for the subject matter because it offers total freedom to the body and acts like a second skin – a second skin you can play with, as a woman or as man.

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