With the eighth annual print edition of Pigeons & Peacocks magazine, we have been lucky enough to discover some of the most talented, creative and dedicated rising stars coming out of London College of Fashion. One such star is Catarina Oliveira, a third year student on the Creative Direction course who curated and shot the Five Senses Series, a collective of short films inspired by the ‘Fashion Sense’ theme of the new issue which explore each sense through the medium of moving image. They are bold and gorgeous.
“At first I had a completely different idea of what I wanted to do. I feel like LCF is heavily based on research so I did a lot of it for this project. I was thinking about doing something inspired by the filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, something in black and white that looked amazing,” says Oliveira in her lilting Portuguese accent. “I did it and it didn’t work very well. It looked nice but I just wasn’t happy with it. I knew I could do better.” From the start, it is obvious that Oliveira’s standards of work are exceptional and that she is a perfectionist of the highest order.
“I went back to my research and to watching films and watched Susperia by Dario Argento. It’s an old horror film. The narrative is nothing special but the aesthetics are beautiful with really bold colours. Then I thought to myself, ‘could I relate colours to the senses? Could I create a bridge between them?’ That was just one afternoon and all the ideas came into my mind.”
The result is a series of five short films where the specific sense in played out in moving image, such as sound on the wet rim of a wineglass, taste in drips of honey and sight in flashing lights, all set within an environment of bright colours. “I did some research into colours. At first I thought sight would be blue because it’s more ‘out there’ but then I was reading about how yellow is used for signs and things you need to look at so I used yellow for sight. For sound, I used blue because I researched a man who is colour blind and he developed a system that’s in his brain so that when he looks at a colour, it beeps and creates a sound inside his head. It’s really amazing. When he dresses, he dresses according to the most beautiful sounds. He explained that the sound of blue was very beautiful so I used that colour for the sound film.”
The films are clean and precise, which belie the effort that Oliveira put in. “It was a bit of trial and error, really. There were a lot, a lot of retakes. The honey for the taste film was tricky. I was trying to get the honey out and I couldn’t make it run symmetrically or it would look weird. I took time off work and in three days I had the videos and then I began editing.”
Thankfully, filmmaking is both Oliveira’s talent and her passion. “I wasn’t into film when I came to the Creative Direction course. I’ve always wanted to work in fashion and I’ve always enjoyed coming up with concepts. I enjoy the course because there is a lot of freedom and experimenting so you get to find out what you’re good at. My tutor Catherine Ferguson is a famous filmmaker and we had a term where we needed to produce moving image and that’s when I realised how much I loved film.”
Looking forward, Oliveira is continuing her exploration of the five senses through film for her Final Major Project, inspired by her work for Pigeons & Peacocks. “I want to see how moving image can go from being flat to being immersive and exploring the senses of the observer. I decided to do that after I made these films. I found it really interesting and I wanted to research it more.” And after that, she would like to pursue a career in the film industry. “Fashion film is definitely what I want to do. When I finish at LCF, I’d like to go to the American Film Institute – it’s where the likes of David Lynch studied. I want to carry on with fashion film. I think a feature film will come later and I’d definitely like to do one. It would be crazy. But for now, I want to focus on fashion films.” If her work with P&P is anything to go by, we have no doubt that Oliveira’s name will be one to remember and that her future will be as bright and wonderful as the films in her Five Senses Series.
See more of Catarina’s amazing work visit her website, and get your copy of the latest Pigeons & Peacocks at WHSmith and all good newsagents.