Kenzo, the forward-thinking French fashion house with Japanese roots, has always had a knack for playful, cinematic vision. It makes perfect sense that co-creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim (founders of Opening Ceremony) tapped iconic pop art photographer David LaChapelle, the maximalist sensory explosion and decadent kitsch, to help bring their Spring/Summer 2019 campaign to life.
LaChapelle, most recently been in the news for shooting Travis Scott's Astroworld album cover and KKW beauty's latest collection, brought his calling cards to Kenzotopia. The shoot is a kaleidoscopic surreal universe, bursting with energy and personality. Each scene is actually a meta-David LaChapelle work, as the cast poses on theatre-sets, in front of backdrops that are actually photos LaChapelle took in Maui, where he frequently works. In an interview with Leon and Lim, LaChapelle explains that campaign's utopia was inspired by Maui's landscape, and suggests the placement of exterior shots (of forests, cityscapes and suburbia) in the shoot's interior, holds a metaphor for finding the joy within.
The campaign is eminently joyful: a power-clashing, Broadway-fever dream come full of movement and energy. The grinning, diverse multi-generational cast (which include a pregnant model, dancers, musicians, students, kids and a glowing cameo by Humberto's mother Wendy) wave, skip, play, stunt, hang from vines and spin around repurpose striper poles in surreal color-blocked prints and monochrome ensembles. It's a breath of fresh air in light of the hazy hordes of wistful-looking models pouting and slouching that fill the pages of fashion magazines.
"We've seen so many people slumped over and looking so sad in their really expensive clothing" says LaChapelle. "It doesn't make any sense for luxury brands. It's just become the new normal… [this] collection is a colorful and divinely energetic assemblage, a futurist and optimistic vision."
The scenes are fabulously escapist, something of a surprise given that that Kenzo's neverbeenshy about using fashion to address politics and unpleasant realities. But the designers, now felt like the perfect time to offer a peek into another world.
"This was really a season where we just wanted to celebrate and to enter a fantasy" Leon explained. "That's what David's photography allows you to do is really let you travel to a different world. I feel like a big inspiration for the collection was to create this fantastical place that could be real, but isn't.