Filmmaker Kathryn Ferguson always knew she wanted a career in fashion, but never envisaged filmmaking to be her calling. She grew in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and in 2001 moved to London to study Fashion Promotion and Communications at Central st. Martins.
The course didn’t actually give any film training at all, but Kathryn had friends who were doing internships at Show Studio, and this piqued her interest in fashion film. “Back then not much was being done in fashion film at all really” Kathryn told us, “But we asked the technician on our course to teach us a bit about filmmaking and it just spiralled from there.”
Luckily, the technician agreed and gave them some very basic film training, but she still left uni without any film qualifications. After graduation Kathryn worked as a Stylist and Art Director but said, “It was difficult leaving and not knowing what to do, but that has really helped me in the long run.”
Although she was working in fashion, Kathryn always knew that she wanted to be working in the film field. In 2007 she sent a film she had made into Birds eye view film fest in London and got picked for a screening. Rachel Milward, the director of the festival, invited her along for a Q&A session after the screening, and at this, she was repeatedly asked about the emergence of fashion film. “That particular screening travelled around the UK that summer, and I kept repeating myself over and over again about the fashion in film thing,” she said.
At the end of that summer of screenings, Rachel called her in and asked if she felt they should open the festival to more fashion based films as that wasn’t something they were currently catering for. “At that point fashion film was very much limited to show studio and a handful of designers.”
Kathryn has been curating fashion films for birds eye view since 2007, and as a result of this she quit styling and decided to start making films. “I decided that I was 25, I was young and I may as go for it while I am young, and just enjoy it,” she told us. “So that was a very liberating year, and I started to put work out there, and was fortunate to start getting work coming back in.”
In 2009, she applied for a masters in visual communication at Royal College of Art, and in the same year, her work was spotted by Dazed digital, who approached her to make a film for an emerging popstar called Lady Gaga. “I turned up wearing a Laura Ashley jumpsuit and a straw hat and she was wearing dry ice, wet look leggings and nine-inch heels. It was a real meeting of worlds. I had to go home and change immediately.”
For Kathryn, the moment that fashion films really started to take off, was in 2009, when Gareth Pugh used a fashion film to showcase his A/W collection instead of a catwalk. “it really was a turning point, and the birth of fashion film as we know it today. Namely because of the absolute fuss it caused.”
In 2011 she graduated from RCA, and her graduation film, Máthair, ( Irish for mother), led to her receiving lots more commissions, including a phonecall from the British Council. Through the cultural outreach programme, she has travelled all over the world to curate shows, and teach about creating fashion films.
Her work with the British council has led to commissions from Chloe, and to Kathryn creating a music video for Sinead O’Connor, one of her idols, “it was very difficult not to be totally starstruck, I definitely knew who she was.”
She has since worked with Selfridges, making a film called Fourtell for International Womens Day, in which she spoke to four influential women, including Caryn Franklin, about being role models to young women.
Her main focus now is definitely bringing more fashion into filmmaking, and introducing more women into the field, “10% of all directors in the UK are women, which shows how much we are doing something different.”