When Tull Price first watched the 1982 experimental film “Koyaanisqatsi” (today a cult classic) many a year ago, the time-lapse and slow-motion sequences observing the relationship between humanity and Earth left a lasting impression. “I think it was a combination of the fact that the visuals where so amazing and it was the first time I had ever seen the world in that manner, with that perspective,” remembers Price. “The Phillip Glass soundtrack took amazing images and added a depth to them I had not experienced on the screen prior.” As the co-founder of NYC-by-way-of-Australia-based FEIT, Price commissioned an audiovisual response of sorts—one that would convey the message of the luxury footwear brand’s ethos—to “Koyaanisqatsi.” It’s a part of an installation at The New Museum making up their F/W 2016 showcase tonight, for New York Fashion Week: Men’s.
The resulting four-minute video, “Man vs Machine” (above) is a collaboration between filmmaker Jack Riccobono, French choreographer Benjamin Millepied (of “Black Swan” fame, currently Director of Dance at Paris Opera Ballet), composer Nicholas Britell (“12 Years a Slave” and “The Big Short”) and Australian installation artist Jordana Maisie, who designed the intriguing “floating” wood interior of FEIT’s West Village store. It juxtaposes the film’s imagery of mass, automated production with intricate close-ups of a shoe being created by hand; all set to Britell’s otherworldly, evolving score.
“When Benjamin, Nick and I first began to discuss the project, we felt it would be a great collaboration as we are all spending time modernizing classical forms,” continues Price, who met the pair through a mutual friend. (Millepied and Britell’s production and artist management company Amoveo produced the video). “Benjamin in dance, Nicholas in musical composition and FEIT with traditional footwear,” he says. Adds director Riccobono, “I wanted to create a strong visual contrast between the unrelenting mechanized production line and the quiet focus of the master shoemaker. So we used cinematic shifts in speed, scale and camera movement to help draw-out the humanity and artistry in FEIT’s process.”
Price notes how long this process can take, and the very human aspect behind the amount they can produce. “On average from start to finish, a single pair—once we have the materials in house—takes approximately six days, including a full day of hand-sewing and four days in a room in which moisture is sprayed every few hours to help the upper take shape around the last. Our numbers are limited by the amount of hand-sewers we have at any one time. At present we have a team of approximately 30, which allows us to hand-sew a maximum of 30 pairs a day.” The outcome: elegant leather boots and sneakers (for all genders) designed to be a part of your wardrobe for years.
FEIT will present “Man vs Machine” tonight at NYC’s The New Museum in immersive installation form, as they showcase their upcoming F/W 2016 collection. It’s open for public viewing tomorrow, 4 February 2016, with an RSVP.
Image stills courtesy of FEIT