CBI Video: Wong Kar-Wai Gets in the Mood for Saint Laurent

Past and present collide in “A Night in Shanghai”

For the fifth installment of Saint Laurent’s multidisciplinary Self arts project, the French fashion brand’s Artistic Director Anthony Vaccarello tapped acclaimed art-house filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai as curator for the short film “A Night in Shanghai,” directed by Hong Kong photographer Wing Shya.

The three-minute film opens with an eerie scene of shadowy figures in a cavernous hall, and Chinese text that translates as “equilibrium is ordinary” (平衡就是平凡), expressing Wong’s understanding of a core value of the Saint Laurent brand. A woman clad in a tutu literally seeks balance as she walks across a tightrope while recalling her previous wild life of nightclubs, motorcycle rides and explosive passions, wondering where it has all gone. As she runs outside and into the tunnel where she last encountered her lover, she passes her old self, who gives a knowing smile.

The goal of the Self project is to capture the fashion house via the perspectives of creative talents in various fields from around the world, and previous installments were produced by writer Bret Eaton Ellis, visual and performance artist Vanessa Beecroft, director Gaspar Noe, and photographer Daido Moriyama.  

In the Wong-Shya film, the unnamed woman’s psychological struggle is portrayed through dream-like imagery that hearkens back to Wong’s early films such as Chunking Express (1994) and Fallen Angels (1995), while depicting the Saint Laurent woman as full of confidence and living her life to the fullest. Shya has a longstanding relationship with Wong as the exclusive photographer for his films, and has created iconic images for films such as “Happy Together” (1997) and “In the Mood for Love” (2000). 

The film was produced by Jet Tone Films, Wong’s production company, and had an exclusive premiere at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, where it was screened for several days before its online release on November 25. Since then, it has racked up 1.3 million views on Youtube and more than 180,000 views on Weibo, where the response has been largely positive.