When VPL launched in 2003, Victoria Bartlett’s modern, activewear-inspired line turned the fashion world inside out. Literally. Based on the concept of innerwear as outerwear, the line combines bold utilitarian elements, pops of color and technical materials into garments that are as functional as they are fashionable.
For Spring/Summer 2014, the designer delved into a reinterpretation of the elements of sport, using scientifically advanced fabrics that work as well at the gym as on the street. Only fitting then that sheer athleticism combined with ruthless competition informed the premise of the following short film featuring the collection. Working with director Doug Keeve, Bartlett summoned Belgian model and trained boxer Hannelore Knuts to duke it out in the ring with champion fighter Kwame Davis, while the eminent Glenn O’Brien provided humorous commentary throughout the match.
An exclusive cut of “The Fight” follows, along with a special chat with Bartlett about the making of the movie and beyond.
How did the idea of making a movie about boxing come to you?
Victoria Bartlett: Hannelore has been a muse for VPL for many years and I knew she was training in boxing. A year ago, I started talking to her about filming her in action and that is how the film came to fruition.
What powerful women have most inspired you in your career?
VB: I am a huge fan of the feminist ‘60s art movement, especially performance art. Women like Adrian Piper and Valie Export really inspire me. Actress Glenda Jackson left a huge impression on me from a young age. And also women like Tilda Swinton, who is a strong self-assured woman in her own realm.
Tell us about your choice of Glenn O’Brien to narrate the film.
VB: Glenn has always been an inspiration. The fact that he had a great background of knowledge in this area made him the perfect attribute. His quick-witted rhetoric was a perfect marriage with the ideas and characters in the film.
Tell us about the choreography in the film. Were the fight scenes difficult to achieve?
VB: The fight scenes were really not hard as Hannelore trained with Kwame for a long time. For any very complicated scenes, we had a stunt stand in that could carry out those maneuvers.
Behind the scenes during filming of “The Fight.”
What were your biggest inspirations for creating the Spring/Summer 2014 collection?
VB: I was really inspired by performance-based fabrics. I became immersed in the science and technology of these fabrications. Movement and the process of moving within clothing were integral components of my designs. Kinetics and Muybridge’s measurements of motion were driving forces for this inspiration.
What technical or ecological innovations in the collection are you most excited about?
VB: The science behind these performance-based fabrications. For instance, the use of silver as an antibacterial agent, which was used in military attire in the past. There are fabrics that contain vitamins and minerals, UV-protective fibers and fabrics that reduce sweating and have cooling or heating effects.
Tell us about how VPL has evolved since you started in 2003.
VB: VPL has taken a circular motion. We began with underthings—the foundation pieces, the building blocks—and grew into a contemporary collection complete with outerwear, eveningwear, bags and shoes. Now we are back to the inception, with a focus on addressing body geography and exploring the space that lies between activewear and ready-to-wear, or “fashion active.” It has been an amazing and interesting journey and I am so excited about our new vision.