Anna Fishbeyn’s new film, ‘Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground’, which she directs and stars in, took this year’s Cannes Film Festival by storm. A sci-fi comedy set in 2195, when women rule the world, it’s a funny and biting satire on gender roles – but it also embraces outlandish and joyful fashion. Anna’s character of Illumina, in particular, expresses herself via bright, 70s disco-inspired creations. We talk to Anna about jumpsuits, glitter and female empowerment.
What was the response to the movie in Cannes?
‘Galaxy 360’ had an amazing response, with critics commenting on how comedy – and costume! – were used to make serious political points. Rehna Azim wrote in Movie Marker: “Using comedy, physicality and music to make her sharp-as-a-tack observations, Fishbeyn creates a futuristic world that is bright, dazzling and glittery…It’s a stylistic and visual choice that imagines 2195 seen through a woman’s eyes”. She added: “[It] would look at home in a ‘Mamma Mia’ sequel set in a galaxy far, far away.”
How did your bold fashion choices inspire the photographers at Cannes?
I did several photoshoots in Cannes, working with photographers including Sebastian Gabsch and Kris Dewitte. I wore jumpsuits and feathers and leather bell-bottoms – the bright greens and blues created awesome shots against a background of Cannes’ ocean and mountains.
Why did you choose this style of clothes for the film?
For centuries, women’s fashion has been deeply connected to women’s rights. When women started wearing miniskirts in the 60s, it was revolutionary because they broke free from the pressures of modesty and obedience. A miniskirt was a statement, a form of rebellion. But because women never really had power, no matter what decade we look at it, women’s bodies were always objectified. The term “sexy” has always been defined for them and dictated to them like a prescription. I wanted to create a world in which I, as a woman, as a female director, get to define what sexy means for me.
In ‘Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground,’ in a futuristic world where women control governments, corporations and the media, they also control fashion. I specifically chose extremely sexy, bright, glittery clothes – body-fitting jumpsuits and latex, jewellery reminiscent of body armour and giant platform boots to denote power and strength. I wanted the women in my film to be able to dance, sit with their legs spread apart, take up as much space as possible, and be free in their movements to create an aura of uninhibited sexuality, and redefine what sexy means altogether. Sexuality that isn’t about pleasing men and society, but expressing your social and political power.
How do you express yourself through fashion?
I’m interested in bold, bright sparkling colours; figure-fitting, asymmetrical shapes; thick, powerful belts; and the fashions of the 1970s and 1980s. Wearing jumpsuits and catsuits is pure joy, because I can create interesting poses using my dance background and I don’t have to worry about being exposed. I want fashion to allow me to move and dance, without feeling self-conscious or fearing a mishap. I love clothes that denote power and unapologetic sexuality, like an extension of a woman’s inner strength – an expression of what we want and need to say in a world that continues to deny us equal rights. I believe that when we wear clothes with confidence, attitude and pride – when we are comfortable in our clothes – we become comfortable in our bodies. And by comfort I do not necessarily mean loose-fitting outfits or sweatpants; by comfort, I mean full control of our movements in glittery, sexy, eveningwear that ensures we won’t fall on our faces, and can dance with abandon when the music starts. I have no problem with wearing clothes that are intentionally revealing, as long as that was the intention and there’s total ownership of that look.
What draws you to 70s style?
I love 70s fashions in part because women were more natural. They wore glittery, bright, colourful jumpsuits and didn’t necessarily wear bras. I like the idea of women’s natural breasts – whatever size or shape they may be – being allowed to be expressed. Too often today women wear push-up bras or stuff their bras to make their breasts appear larger. We see women conforming each decade to a new trend or body type. In the 90s we had the waif, skinny beyond comprehension. Today women are getting breast implants and butt implants to resemble a new svelte Marilyn-Monroe type figure. I’m interested in the 70s because it was possibly the last decade I can recall where women were allowed to have whatever body they actually had and be proud of it – the free love vibe – which is why the fashion in ‘Galaxy 360’ is reminiscent of that decade.
How can fashion empower women?
I love feathers and platform heels. I like height for women, not because it makes our legs look longer (honestly, who cares about that?), but height is great because it makes us taller, larger, more formidable, because it gives an aura of strength and power, and in a world where we are still not equal, we need that expression of power everywhere we go. In ‘Galaxy 360: A Woman’s Playground’ all the female judges and Illumina are wearing giant, six-inch platform heels to create that sense of power.
What more can the fashion industry do?
My advice for the fashion industry is to create clothes that empower women – clothes for individual expression, rather than clothes for conformity. Clothes that will build a new decade of empowered girls and women, who can participate in every field and embrace their sexuality without feeling that it’s being imposed upon them. Clothes that help women to feel sensual and strong at the same time, and allow them to move and dance and enjoy themselves without the worry of unintended exposure – which in turn will build inner confidence and raise future leaders. I like to think of myself as a peacock; I like to strut and enjoy my costume the way a peacock enjoys its feathers. The peacock is a bird that embodies confidence and grace and power, and part of it comes from its outer beauty. I would like the fashion industry to give women clothes that empower them to express their inner peacock.