In celebration of Fashion Week, The Museum of Art and Design collaborated with Vanity Fair and the Film Society at Lincoln Center to put on Fashion in Film, a festival co-curated by Simon Doonan.

One thoughtfully chosen film, 1981’s Diva, centered on themes of  piracy.  Jules – a young postal worker who rides around Paris on a little mobylette – attends a concert given by his idol, the silver goddess gown-clad opera singer Cynthia Hawkins. Hawkins’ voice prompts young Jules to shed at least a few silent tears;  her performance a religious experience for him and the rest of the audience. But live is the only way anyone can hear Cynthia Hawkins’ voice — an unswerving crusader for authenticity, Cynthia believes that art is something sacred that can only be captured  in the art act itself. For this reason, she refuses to record her voice. Desperate to attain a material piece of his sacred goddess, Jules records the concert illegally and impulsively decides to steal a performance gown after being welcomed backstage.

Superficially, Diva is a wandering multi-genre, multi-plot, muli-purpose French film with a seemingly arbitrary focus on fashion and editorial imagery. But implicitly, Diva is the story of fashion itself. It’s about capturing. It’s about longing after a concept and solidifying it with costume. What better medium to display this undertaking than film? Diva ultimately did what fashion editorials do: it  made me want a silk robe and a boyfriend on a mobylette. It also made me insist on only referring to mopeds as mobylettes from here on out. I immediately went home, searched for the DVD on Amazon, and am on my way to curating my own cinematic zoo of fashion, film, and infatuation-driven imagery. — Text by Hillary Sproul