For the last few seasons now, Kenzo has been synonymous with groundbreaking campaign films, which have seen the brand collaborating with directors Spike Jonze and Akinola Davies as well as actors Mahershala Ali and Avan Jogia, among many others.
The fashion film it recently released, though, is a little different than usual in that it feels closer to home. A follow-up to Kenzo’s much-praised Asia-focused Spring/Summer 2018 runway show, the film also stars an all-Asian cast.
“We're living in a time where we're super embracing our heritage, and I think that it's perfect that we celebrate the Japanese heritage of the Kenzo brand, but also celebrating us all as Asians,” says co-creative director Humberto Leon. “I think it was exciting to just really embrace this collection in its pure form, and then working with Karen and Ana Lily to then take the collection to the next level, and them together telling the story is exciting to see how this season all links together.”
The “Karen” and “Ana Lily” mentioned above are Karen O, the Korean-American front-woman of Yeah Yeah Yeah, and Ana Lily Amirpour, the Iranian-American director best known for her cult vampire movie, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014). The two women write an original soundtrack for and direct the nine-minute film respectively.
Moreover, O also made a cameo appearance and teamed up with co-creative director Carol Lim to come up with the storyline. A reimagining of the movie Blowup (1966), the film centers on the theme of muses to honor Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and the late supermodel Sayoko Yamaguchi; both of whom are the inspirations for Kenzo’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
“When I thought of the muses for Humberto and Carol being this Japanese artist and model, it just sparked this other side of my imagination, which is the Asian melodrama that's within me,” says O.
In the film, the bond between an artist and his muse are portrayed in the relationship between a photographer, played by musician Alex Zhang Hungtai, and his two models, played by actresses Kiko Mizuhara (Norwegian Wood, Attack on Titan) and Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones, Iron Fist). The main characters can be seen lip-syncing to the track O has composed specifically for the film, entitled Yo! My Saint.
Watch the film below:
When it comes to the music, O, who also performs the song together with Michael Kiwanuka, explains, "I immediately wanted to do melodramatic and romantic and with lots of yearning and high stakes—all that good stuff that's in any Korean soap opera. It just started flowing through me."
Yo! My Saint is available digitally and, starting January 22, on vinyl in limited quantities.
Images c/o Kenzo.