Diane Pernet is a legend in the fashion industry. The Washington, D.C. native, who grew up on the Main Line in Philadelphia and studied documentary filmmaking at Temple University, was a successful fashion and costume designer in New York in the Eighties before moving to Paris two decades ago to become a fashion writer.
An early adopter to the Internet, Pernet covered the industry for Elle.com and Vogueparis.com before launching her now famous blog, A Shaded View On Fashion, in 2005. The site takes its name from her signature mantilla and sunglasses, and focuses on its creator's twin loves: emerging designers and emerging filmmakers. "I just wanted to write about whatever interested me whenever it interested me," Pernet said of ASVOF. As for why it's been so successful? "You'd have to ask my readers that."
In addition to being a talent scout for the Hyères Festival from 2002 to 2011 and co-curating the You Wear It Well fashion film program in Los Angeles in 2006 (which included a "road movie" she shot documenting the launch of the Eley Kishimoto menswear collection), Pernet went on to launch A Shaded View On Fashion Film (ASVOFF) festival in 2008. "Each season we try and take it a step further with conferences, workshops, concerts and art installations, along with a wide range of fashion films," Pernet says of her traveling three-day festival. As for what she looks for when screening potential ASVOFF films? "Something that touches me or takes me somewhere. It is, in fact, the same [analysis] you'd apply to any type of film except there is the consideration of fashion in the film."
Following the most recent ASVOFF in October, which took place at the Centre Pompidou in Paris with Rossy de Palma, Daphne Guinness and Christina Kruse among the jury members, the festival is going to Art Basel/Miami next month, where ACRIA (AIDS Community Research Initiative of America) will sponsor an event with a special ASVOFF directors/artists exhibition and silent auction to benefit ACRIA's research efforts (Pernet is a long-time supporter of AIDS organizations). From here, the peripatetic Pernet will take her festival to Barcelona, Cannes and Australia over the next year.
As for whether she ever thinks about relaunching her cult fashion label? "Never," Pernet replies emphatically. "I did it for 13 years; it was my life, my blood, it was everything to me. But when I relocated [to Paris] I did not have the means to start all over again and then I started working on the other side of the podium and I saw too much. When I was a designer the only shows I ever attended were those of close friends. I liked to think I was the only designer. Now I've seen much too much to ever have those blinders on."
The Fashion Informer's Lauren David Peden sat down with the smoky-voiced fashion and film lover between trips to talk mantillas, Mike Figgis and holiday memories.
What's the one thing I will always find in your refrigerator and one thing I will never find there?
Always Volvic water and never meat.
What song best sums up your life right now, at this moment?
Heroes by David Bowie.
Tell me about your best friend.
I have a few people that I am very close to, I cannot limit it to one. They are people that I love and that have similar qualities. Honesty, integrity and beautiful energy—angels really. I cannot imagine my life without them.
When was the first time you wore your signature mantilla and where do you find them?
First time was going to church way back then, when you had to cover your head, and black lace was it for me. Now it is black chiffon that my friend Filep Motwary makes for me.
Who, in your opinion, is the most underrated designer?
Two, once again I'm a Libra and have a hard time choosing one for anything. Marjan Pejoski and Boudicca. I think both are supremely talented and do not receive the attention and support that they so deserve. I mean museums understand their qualities but the way the system works here it always seems if you have not made your first million by the fifth year in business people loose interest. It's insane. Anyway they have their market and they are loved by many, I just think they should be known by all.
What's your favorite holiday memory?
Once again two: In 1987 a trip to Darjeeling; an amazing place (back then, anyway). I stayed at the Windamere Hotel. Last August in Perth, Australia I was there with some very dear friends and never felt better and also I fell in love with a koala bear.
Where else would you like to live, if you weren't living in Paris?
Maybe Venice but I've never been to Buenos Aires and have a fantasy about going there one day. I am not sure if it will live up to my very high expectations.
What's your favorite street in the world?
I don't think I have one.
What's the most you've ever spent on a purchase, other than a house or car?
€ 4,500 on my computer.
What's your favorite—and least favorite—form of exercise?
Walking is my favorite and jogging is my least favorite
How has blogging changed since you began ASVOF?
When I started I was one of a handful, if even, of fashion bloggers, now there are millions. In the beginning people were extremely skeptical about blogs and bloggers, now they embrace them. Paris is probably the only city that does not accredit them for their fashion week.
What blogs and websites do you read on a regular basis?
The Business of Fashion, AnOther and the rest I read depending if it is fashion week, I'll read On the Runway by Cathy Horyn and Style.com and Alex Fury for SHOWstudio. The rest of the time I follow links that interest me.
What are you doing tonight?
I just came back from seeing the Diane Arbus exhibition and then saw the film Drive with Ryan Gosling. I think he's the new Steve McQueen—the strong, silent type.
What's your computer desktop/screensaver?
It is quite funny. It is my business manager wearing a Piers Atkinson turban made for me and a pair of sunglasses. Not at all her natural look but it always makes me smile.
Please look up from wherever you're answering these questions and describe what you see.
A great photo of Mike Figgis with a camera in four images, one with a red crayon outlining it. He sent it to me. I love his work.
What makes you nervous?
Looking for money, I don't really feel that 'sponsor speak' is my strength yet I know I can be effective when I make the move.
When are you happiest?
Being around the people I love or being alone and serene or holding a koala in Australia—an amazing experience.