Topsy and Turvy – Credits

Inspired by Hendrickje schimmel x Poul Brouwer
Director: Manuela Ernst-Minimarini
Art direction: Justin Rahantoknam
Director of photography: Daniel Lorenzatto

26 year old Manuela Ernst is graduating this year with a BA in Fashion Branding, from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). For her Fashion & Visual Culture minor she created the fashion film Topsy and Turvy. Follow her on twitter at @ellamanuela and check out her site ( blog and tumblr.


Manuela, what is the background of the work you submitted?
Topsy and Turvy was inspired by two upcoming Dutch fashion designers, or rather by their collections: Gerrit Rietveld Academie graduate Poul Brouwer’s “Shame” collection, and ArtEZ graduate Hendrickje Schimmel’s “(Truth)” Collection.

We live in a world where people can portray themselves as they please. With the film, I wanted to examine the concept of identity and how the current technology craze affects the way people present themselves. The increase in outlets for virtual reality, mainly on the internet, may lead to problems around individual identity.

In today’s world, which may feel a little topsy-turvy or upside-down, we have to ask ourselves what is really true? What makes an experience real? Can reality and truth come from virtual experiences? In this chaos, how do we create a real bond, achieve a true relationship. Where can we look for our soul mate, how can we fall head over heels and feel complete?


How did you create the sense of narrative in your video?
We wanted to create a surreal atmosphere as well as a sense of intrusion. The viewer gets drawn into the lives of the characters, watching their behaviour and observing their expression. You realise the distracted nature of the girl, and the boy’s need for order and control. Slowly it becomes apparent that they need each other. The narrative here is a typical Hollywood girl meets boy story with of course, a happy end. Is the story believable? Do you want to believe in it? This story is very real; it is one we have created!

Whilst its purpose is primarily to entertain the viewer, I also wanted to convey how lost we actually are in our world surrounded by internet confusion and visuals profusion. The lines between virtual and real are increasingly blurred.

How did your collaboration with the designers come about?
For this assignment we were free to choose the designers we wanted to collaborate with.



Manuela Ernst-Minimarini

Of course they had to be based in Holland so we could reach them easily. We the Topsy and Turvy team, had previously worked together on a short film called What A Drama, (shown below) rich in kitsch imagery with a focus on colour and bold graphics. We knew this was the direction we wanted to go and the designs of Poul Brouwer and Hendrickje Schimmel were in keeping with our creative style and vision for the film.

How do the two designers’ collections fit the story?
The clothes were chosen to reflect the personalities of the two characters we had created. Topsy, the girl is lost in internet chaos and virtual reality; she wears bold flashy designs by Hendrickje Schimmel. Turvy is the opposite of Topsy; he wears the structured grid print designs of Poul Brouwer.

Can you tell us how you casted your models?
We considered several people. For the female we wanted someone with an expressive acting style; her personality had to be conveyed through her body and facial expressions. As the male character is quite restrained; his range of facial expression is limited. He expresses himself mainly through his body, his every move tensed and controlled.

The film sets are very elaborate, what was the thinking behind them and how difficult were they to create?
We wanted to emphasise the characters dispositions by creating abstract environments which reflect their personalities. The girl’s indecisiveness is shown through the mix of high and low culture elements.</>


The boy’s habitat is an isolated box made out of blankets, a room where children memories are still present but in a clean and cold way. This room is a refuge where he hides from the world.

The sets are an important part of the film as they contribute a great deal to its atmosphere. Luckily we were all in agreement on what we wanted. With Justin Rahantoknam, our art director in the team we created during the course,  in one  week, these 2 rooms in a much larger one. It was hard work but exciting!

What do you feel is the role of the fashion film today?
I think it is a great way to communicate fashion as it highlights the vibrancy and vitality of fashion. Fashion isn’t just about skinny models posing in a magazine. There is more scope to translate the concepts behind a design through moving image, with sound and movement adding depth. You can much more clearly show feelings and emotions with film.

What fashion films do you like?
There are so many I love! Diesel – Fresh and Bright , Prada Candy L’Eau, Anna Del Russo for H&M, Meadham Kirchoff SS12 and Lazy Oaf x Nasty Gal are just a few of my favourites. I like them because they are light-hearted and tinged with irony which, I find makes the fashion more interesting to view. I like to see fashion through mildly damaged rose-tinted glasses!


What changes would you like to see within the fashion industry?
I think people should stop taking themselves so seriously! Fashion doesn’t have to be serious.

How do you imagine your future?
I hope to be a fashion editor at a fun fashion and lifestyle magazine. I want to show people that fashion is not as superficial as it can appear. Fashion is a way of adding beauty to life.

What A Drama



Written by Anoushka Probyn

Anoushka Probyn

Anoushka Probyn’s range of interests within fashion is broad, from illustration to writing. Having completed a Foundation Diploma at Central Saint Martin’s, she is studying MA Fashion Media Practice and Criticism at London College of Fashion, expecting to graduate in 2017. She would love to experience working in the fields of fashion marketing, promotion and communication. Despite the fact that fashion can be all-consuming Anoushka also manages to find the time to practice oil painting and web design, as well as following football club West Bromwich Albion.