Originally posted at Toronto Film Scene.
Nobody would ever mistake me for someone who is fashion forward, unless jeans and a t-shirt is the latest trend. Thankfully designer Bruno Ierullo, the focus of director Jesse Mann‘s documentary Material Success, has better taste than I do. Having its North American theatrical premiere at Projection Booth Cinema,Material Success follows Bruno for the two months leading up to his first fashion show in Toronto in 2009.
You don’t have to be a fan of the fashion world to enjoy the film. You only have to be a person full of passion for any field that you may enjoy: that’s what makes Mann’s documentary so inspiring. Bruno Ierullo has lived his entire life with a love of design. Originally working as part of a family business, his true calling was always the world of fashion. Eventually, he decided that he had to live his dream, finding a workshop and a creative partner in Susana Benavides, his production manager. The two month preparation for his first runway show is where the documentary begins, and it’s a frenzy of fabric, planning, meetings, and madness as Bruno finally realizes his goal.
Ierullo now runs a 3,000 foot showroom in Yorkville, but at the time this documentary was filmed, he was only beginning. The knowledge that he’s accomplished his dream only makes this film more intriguing. You can always tell someone that if they try, they can achieve anything, but this is an actual example of a person who did just that. It’s not an easy road for Bruno, and throughout the film we’re given insight into his past and the hurdles he had to overcome to get where he is now. It also gives the viewer a look at the drive and ambition that Bruno has. Not content with what he saw around him in the fashion world, he set out to bring colour and happiness to an industry that he felt was too much ‘doom and gloom’.
It’s impossible to dislike Bruno. He’s constantly happy and kind to a fault, something his production manager, and friend Susana won’t let him forget. Bruno has trouble saying no, and that’s where Susana comes in. After working together for years, she’s less of colleague and more a part of the family, taking up a motherly role with Bruno regarding his business. It’s great to watch the two of them together, and it’s easy to see how they both compliment each other in the business. I’m willing to bet that if you took one of them away, everything would fall apart.
Bruno is an entertaining man, his mind constantly racing, which is mirrored in the filming. This can be a little overwhelming as the runway show comes closer. The camera is always trying to keep up with what’s going on in Bruno’s shop as he zips between racks of clothing, discusses the show with a stylist, and rushes to finish pieces of clothing in time. Moments of interviews are a welcome rest before we’re thrust back into preparation for the show. Although it may be difficult to keep up at times, it really gives the viewer a sense of what’s going on in Bruno’s world, and what he must deal with on a day to day basis.