If you're a human with access to a working Internet connection, chances are you've already seen "First Kiss," a touching short film by Tatia Pllieva, which shows 20 strangers kissing for the first time. It's become an overnight YouTube hit, racking up over 7,000,000 hits since it was posted around 2 p.m. Monday -- an unprecedented feat for a fashion film.
In fact, you may not have even realized it was a fashion film -- we didn't until a while after we saw it -- and that was largely the point, according to Wren founder and creative director Melissa Coker, who was still in disbelief about the film's success when we spoke with her on the phone Tuesday. The designer launched the film as part of Style.com's video fashion week instead of staging a traditional Fashion Week presentation.
"We make these fashion films every season," Coker said. "I strive to make them an interesting film that exists on its own rather than something that feels like a commercial, and it seems to be touching people -- not only people who are in fashion and would see this, but also random guys who aren't connected at all. I've had random guys texting me, 'I saw your video, it's -- and I'm probably not saying this right -- on the cover of Reddit.'"
She also always makes an effort to work with females she finds inspiring. For instance, in the past she's worked with Tavi Gevinson and Gia Coppola on her films. Pllieva is a longtime friend of Coker's and the timing was right for them to work together.
Coker also dipped into her expansive friend group to cast the film's 20 kissers, who, yes, are cool and attractive -- especially model/illustrator Langley Fox (sister of Dree Hemingway). While a few outlets have already criticized the film for not being as real as it purports itself to be because the cast members are "models," that's not exactly the case either. "I emailed a bunch of people I know, though my personal life, through Wren. I tried to be diverse. Some of them are musicians. But the guy with the tattoos, he actually works at Wren."
So, they weren't all people who are used to kissing strangers (but were obviously willing to), and they were in fact all strangers. The main challenge in choosing who would kiss whom was the not-having-met-before caveat. "Who does Z not know?" she said, referring to Z Berg of girl band The Like. Other than that, she considered height and "who aesthetically would be a nice pairing," as well as "who are my guy friends who my girl friends would think are cute."
Whatever the methodology, it worked. Every kiss in the video is compelling in its own way, making for a truly impactful and memorable film overall. Another reason for that: "Action was never called, so a lot of these people didn't necessarily know if they were being filmed or not, so you see these real moments."
Coker sounded genuinely moved by the response the film has gotten in such a short time. "The most exciting thing is the comments I've heard, [like people saying] they watch it over and over, that this renewed their belief in love, it's heartwarming. Soko [the musician who appeared in the film and whose song 'We Might be Dead Tomorrow' plays during it] apparently sold a million copies today on iTunes."
And although the clothes may not be a focal point, "First Kiss" is an example of the value of fashion film as a marketing tool, which is particularly relevant now, as the effectiveness of showing at Fashion Week comes increasingly into question. "This has exceeded in my desire to have something that's interesting to people beyond a fashion angle," said Coker. "I don't think I would get a text from some random guy I know about a fashion presentation, and hopefully this will last longer than one season."