Kira Lillie’s spiritual aesthetics

Diane Pernet’s fourth edition of ASVOFF was not only a good opportunity to discover promising fashion short-films, but also to meet the artists behind them. In this context, we met the photographer and jewellery designer Kira Lillie, who recently added ‘film maker’ to her list of hyphens. After establishing herself in Milan’s fashion scene, the photographer settled in Paris in order to start her very own jewellery line VKLillie. Fully made out of passion, VKLillie is a creative collaboration of Kira and her mother Vanessa. Inspired by her hippie upbringing in California and the artisanal and Native American knowledge inherited from her grandmother, Kira and Vanessa started with a small line of medicine bags. These small hand-made leather pouches are decorated with semi-precious stones on the outside and filled with healing stones like quartz, jade and amber on the inside. Winner of this year’s ASOFF festival Beauty Prize for the film Waters, sleek decided to bring Kira Lillie’s view on fashion out from the shade and into the spotlight:

sleek: You’re a fashion photographer and you run the jewellery brand VKLillie. Now you started out as a film-maker, too. What’s your approach to fashion?
Kira Lillie:
I have a whole different strategy to the market than most anyone else working in this industry: I don’t care if it’s selling, how many orders I made during Fashion Week, or what shops am I selling in. I really want to keep it special. My mother does the production in Wyoming and I do a part of the design here. It’s about unique medicine bags, made out of precious stones that are full of energy. It’s about very small and personal hand-made collections, I’m not interested in commercial approaches.

sleek: Waters is a very dream-like film, combining a stream of consciousness narration with a touch of superstition. Like an ode to the natural spirit. How important is spirituality to the understanding of the film?
: I wouldn’t call it superstition. I just wanted to give a spiritual context to the film, as most of the time, fashion related movies or advertisements don’t go beyond fashion and remain on the surface. I wanted to bring my own politics into fashion by addressing some big question marks in our society.

As we formerly had a theme given by Diane, which was “power”, I wanted to question the influence – or lack of influence – that world religions have on us. Somehow the theme was taken away later on, but I continued to develop the subject, as it just perfectly matched what I had in my mind. This is how I was led to water, as it represents a serious power for us right now. We’re made of water and it’s perhaps the most important resource we have. Then there are the political and economic aspects of water. It’s a controversial subject. I just wanted to fuse these two powerful themes, as water and bathing rituals are used for cleansing and purifying rituals in every religion. I wanted to unify the religions through water.

The film starts with a very dark and strong presence of organised religions and continues with the “softer” but still restrictive native religions, shown in the red shades. The whole process is about how someone purifies oneself of these restrictions, how someone is washing them off. Of course it is very symbolic, but in the end it’s about freedom.

sleek: was it hard to find models who can act?
: I loved working with Bianca O’Brien and Olga Sherer! Bianca is a very self-reflective and self-aware person. She is the narrator in the film. Olga completely shone during the shoot; she just felt the story intuitively, the way she wanted to. I didn’t have to give her any instructions, she just followed her feelings. And it was amazing!
A PG Rated Frieze