Kenzo Kicks Off Couture Week With a Short By Favorite Cult Filmmaker Gregg Araki


The scene at the outdoor movie theater in Paris. Photo: Courtesy 

Pulp Fiction meets Twin Peaks in Gregg Araki’s stylized short Here Now, in which hip L.A. couples intertwine in a dive bar to debate love, loss, and religion while wearing key pieces from Kenzo’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection. The ad campaign – conceived by Araki as an extension of his acclaimed ’90s “Teenage Apocalypse” trilogy: Totally F***ed Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere – at sunset on Friday night in a makeshift outdoor movie theater in Paris’s Jardin d’Acclimatation. It was the first of many events to take place this week as editors arrive ahead of the haute couture shows.  

Fans of New Queer Cinema’s cult auteur perched on rows of deck chairs and red, pink and orange pouffes to watch the six-minute short, which opens with a love scene of sorts: a libidinous couple - played by Nicole LaLiberte and Jake Weary - their mouths clamped either side of a greasy hamburger. Completing the rising-star cast are Jane Levy, Jacob Artist, Grace Victoria Cox and Avan Jogia. “His work is wicked, I’m obsessed with it,” enthused model Lily McMenamy, through braces. “My first boyfriend, when I was 16, we’d sit in his bed and watch The Doom Generation – it kind of formed my idealistic vision of teenage-hood and cool-hood. I love the quote ‘Wake up and smell the cappuccino’…” Sipping a beer at the theater-side barbecue, Yoann Lemoine aka director Woodkid spoke of the “sense of freedom, craziness and controversy” he associates with Araki’s work: “It’s a reference, they’re generational films.”

“I feel like I’m very happily back in high school,” smiled Rufus Wainwright, surveying the food trucks, pots of striped straws, and colored bins stacked with ice and beers. He confessed that Araki’s work, indeed the whole teen subculture, wasn’t his usual genre: “It’s something I connect with but, like novels, I tend to like dead people’s work in the world of film. I’m kind of a black-and-white addict,” said the singer-songwriter, who’s gearing up for the opening of his opera, Prima Donna, later this month “at the Acropolis in Athens. I’m working with Francesco Vezzoli – he’s done a film for it starring Cindy Sherman.”


Kenzo’s Humberto Leon and Carol Kim with Gregg Araki (center). Photo: Courtesy

At a press preview of the film earlier in the day, Araki spoke of sharing a sensibility, spirit and aesthetic with Kenzo, despite having never before worked on a fashion-related project. “The collaboration didn’t feel like a weird shotgun marriage of two things that didn’t go together,” said the director. “I don’t really know fashion very well but I think there are very few labels that would be such a good fit with my movies.”

Kenzo’s creative directors, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon spoke about the influence of Araki’s films, and the L.A. subcultures they portrayed, on their work. “We are lucky to have experienced this idea of subcultures and these kids who form identities in groups in the suburbs in order to unify, because they didn’t have the internet back then,” said Leon. “They banded together – whether it was through music or film or the way they dressed or a color they loved – and there’s something really authentic about it.”

“We lived through it, Carol and I grew up pre-internet,” Leon continued, “so when we’re talking about skater kids it’s not just us looking at magazines. The idea of authenticity, of speaking to both the cult of Gregg and also to a person who might not know who Gregg is, is interesting for us. Here Now couldn’t be more different from other fashion films out there and that’s exciting – this has an actual script and a specific storyline that will engage you.”

“We both grew up in the suburbs,” added Lim, who also strongly connected with the Here Now soundtrack, featuring “Slowdive, Cocteau Twins, Jesus and Mary Chain, bands that I loved and idolized.” “[Araki’s] films captured a world that you could relate to but that was slightly unattainable. You wanted to be one of those characters. When you look at Here Now there’s still that feeling you can identify and it feels very modern. You wanted to be part of that world – and I think you still do.”

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