Model Ayumi Patterson for Kim Shui collection by Alexis Shan

Fashion designer Kim Shui’s new campaign on film

DP Violet Smith taps ARRI Rental for an ARRIFLEX 235 camera package to capture “Second Skin” on 35 mm analog film, promoting Kim Shui's 2024 FALL | WINTER 2024 collection.

Jun. 17, 2024

Renowned for her skillful use of cut-outs, vibrant color palettes, and intricate lace-up embellishments, Kim Shui is celebrated for her stunning minidresses and form-fitting skirts. In an effort to promote inclusivity, her runway shows feature models of all body types. Cinematographer Violet Smith shares how she crafted a visual language for the branded content piece “Second Skin,” employing analog film capture and camera movements that embody the theme of women's empowerment.

Kim Shui's fashion focuses on bold statement womenswear. How did you translate this into a compelling film campaign?

"Second Skin" is a visual poem set in a simple, all-white studio that explores themes of inner strength, nurturing care, and freedom beyond societal norms. The film shows intimate moments between models, a baby goat, and a wild horse, each symbolizing a step towards embracing personal truth and wildness. It focuses on the balance between nurturing and strength, light and dark, and personal freedom.

The cinematography of the KIM SHUI FW24 campaign is vital in expressing themes of liberation and empowerment. Initially focusing on close-up shots to highlight tender interactions, the camera gradually shifts to broader, dynamic shots that capture the expanding studio space and the horse's powerful movements. This evolution in the cinematography mirrors the models’ journey towards freedom, using visual and auditory elements to enhance the viewer's immersive experience.

behind the scenes on Kim Shui's 2024 Fall Winter fashion collection

What qualities of the ARRIFLEX 235 camera and Cooke S4 lens combination did you find most suitable for capturing Kim Shui's Fall 2024 collection?

When selecting a camera body we considered several factors, including cost, weight, and workflow. The compact and lightweight ARRIFLEX 235 emerged as the ideal choice for us due to our extensive use of Steadicam and the need for rapid movement. Given the nature of the campaign, which also did not require sync sound recording, the 235 was a perfect fit.

As a cinematographer, I've always been a fan of the "Cooke look.” For this project, I wanted to highlight the beauty of the clothes and models, making Cooke S4s the perfect choice for maintaining soft, beautiful skin tones. Since we chose to shoot on 500T film with a noticeable grain, balancing this with the right lenses was essential. Cooke S4s provide excellent control over distortions and flares while offering a gentle, vintage aesthetic.

How did you use camera movement in the piece?

The director and I were excited about the idea of progressively building a natural world around the clothes using soundscapes and movements to enhance them. During preproduction, we often discussed transforming an industrial chaos into a natural environment. Using a jib arm and a Steadicam operator enabled us to capture this transformation, mirroring the growth of a tree and the movement of wind with the sweeping motions these tools provide.

on set for Kim Shui's 2024 Fall Winter campaign with crane

Which film stock did you choose and why?

We used Kodak 5219 500T. I think for this project specifically, despite shooting in a cleaner, more commercial setting, we wanted a stock that has a little more texture. Especially with the nature of the concept, we found it essential to utilize a stock that would allow for more grit and depth in the grain.

How did you find the experience of shooting analog and how much have you done it before?

I've shot on analog a few times before, but I had never used it as intentionally as I wanted to. For this project, shooting on analog felt essential because I aimed to be as deliberate as possible with both my shots and my exposure. While analog offers significant flexibility, it also forces me to meter properly and thoughtfully consider what I want from the image during preproduction. After this project, I've found myself primarily shooting on analog because digital often leads to a more dismissive and unintentional workflow, which is reflected in the final images.

model Ayumi Patterson on Kim Shui’s 2024 Fall Winter Collection with horse and camera on jib

What lab did you use and what was your post workflow like?

We chose Kodak for both processing and scanning, and the workflow was smooth, with a quick turnaround. The Kodak team was wonderful and communicative. Given our limited budget, I wasn't able to be as involved in the daily coloring as I would have liked. In the future, I hope to be more integrated into that part of the process.

How did you utilize lighting to create the atmosphere and enhance the clothing?

Conceptually, we wanted lighting that would represent the intimate and ethereal sense of interactions between models and animals. Through the lighting we were able to help create those nurturing moments with the soft top light, allowing us to truly highlight the models and the clothes. We chose to shoot in a minimalist, all-white environment to symbolically represent a blank canvas, allowing the models to be the focus.

How important is it for rental houses to keep well-maintained analog cameras going for modern shooters?

It is crucial for rental houses to maintain their analog gear. Coming from a digital background, I was impressed with ARRI Rental's ability to provide analog equipment that was not only well-prepared but also compatible with modern accessories. While I prefer not to rely on a monitor when shooting analog, having an accurate HD image available for the director and team enhances communication. This setup allows for smoother, more detail-oriented collaboration between me and the director.

Kim Shui 2024 Fall Winter Campaign Director's Monitor

What obstacles did you face during production and how did you overcome them?

To be completely transparent, this production presented extraordinary challenges, particularly due to the absence of a pre-lighting day. As a result, it required a massive team effort to ensure everything was in place on time. With only a few hours available to capture all necessary shots, director Olivia De Camps and I had to brainstorm and implement simple solutions swiftly. While adjusting or cutting shots is never ideal, it was remarkable to witness the team's flexibility, ultimately leading to a beautiful surprise in the final product.

In any production, obstacles are inevitable, and it's crucial to remain calm, prioritize crew morale, and embrace open-minded collaboration during such moments. Without these qualities, overcoming challenges and achieving a satisfying end result becomes more difficult. Additionally, surrounding myself with a talented, hardworking, and passionate team is indispensable for navigating challenging situations like these.

Watch the full spot below.

behind the scenes on Kim Shui's 2024 fashion campaign-2 (1)