In an amazingly swift period of time Crystal Moselle has cemented herself as the premier storyteller of the NYC Downtown. The way she mixes youth, fashion, and biography into her stylized works is an incredibly intoxicating combo, and this fashion short might be the purest representation of her preoccupations yet.
Best known for her standout feature, The Wolfpack, a documentary film about imaginative brothers who lived most of their childhood in a cramped Lower East Side apartment without ever leaving, Moselle was given free reign on this short by Miu Miu, the Italian fashion brand, as part of their series Women’s Tales. The series is, for our money, the best ongoing fashion film project out there, and Moselle’s is one of its most accessible and enjoyable entries.
Unlike The Wolfpack, That One Day is not a documentary, but it is largely based off the experience of its star, 18 year-old Rachelle Vinberg, and the intimidation that faces female skaters in NYC skate parks. Moselle found her subjects—Vinberg and her skate crew, in pretty much the same way she found the Angulo brothers of The Wolfpack—she was walking around downtown, spotted them, and went up to chat. The narrative is simplistic, but incredibly heartwarming as Vinberg falls through the rabbit hole into a glamorous community of female skaters who accept her, stick up for her, and bare their emotions together.
With this piece, it feels like Moselle’s voice is fully asserting itself now. There are few works on her director reel: her feature documentary, this film, and a lovely music video for Color War, but she had experience in fashion film and beauty spots beforehand. The three pieces, across three different forms of visual work, share commonalities though: the characters are young and creative, they “play” themselves, embedding authenticity even into the non-documentary work, and the films are preoccupied with fantasy—that liminal space where reality and something fantastic feel very close together. Modern documentary has become very stylized in terms of its cinematography, but Moselle’s approach feels liberated—she wants to tell “true” stories, and doesn’t really care if they are documentaries, she is entering into collaborations with the inspiring young downtowners she works with and together they actively create art, the result of which is what the finished film is a documentation of.