For its Fall-Winter 2019 advertising campaign, French fashion house KENZO embarks on a journey on the road less travelled. The artistic collaboration between the French fashion house and the storied pop photographer David LaChapelle shifts into a dramatic new focus. The results of this second creative partnership (KENZO and LaChapelle first collaborated for the house’s Spring-Summer 2019 campaign) are less like a traditional campaign and more like what might best be described as a series of postcards sent from the edge of imagination. Blurring the lines between high art, luxury advertising and the unavoidable wanderlust incited by modern social-media photography, KENZO’s Fall-Winter campaign asks its audience to take a double or even triple look before drawing conclusions.
At first glance, the unorthodox, densely layered images (and accompanying videos) echo the important cross-cultural conversations that are imprinted into KENZO’s roots since its foundation. In classic LaChapelle form, there is more to these photos than what meets the eye. One-of-a-kind works of “collage art”, the dichotomous images feature original fashion photography by LaChapelle superimposed over his rarely seen personal archive of vintage travel slides he has sourced for decades from his globetrotting adventures all over the world. It’s a provocative and intergenerational approach to image making that speaks to KENZO’s global sensibilities and conveys a new modern community of people traveling all over the world.
br>Highlights include the actress Logan Browning clad in Fall- Winter’s statement bright-pink tactical pieces happily showing off the resin bijoux “eye” clasp from the season’s Tali double flap bag. The figure of Browning is overlaid on top of a vintage image from the 1960s depicting an elderly woman sunbathing on retro outdoor lounge furniture. The striking image feels unplaceable, surreal, and new in startlingly camp ways. Another composite postcard-esque image depicts the young musician and model Selah Marley in a loosely constructed oxidized-green jumpsuit with a camera around her neck and one hand clutching the exaggerated bright orange shoulder straps of this season’s Tali bag. Placed seamlessly into a vignette composed from one of LaChapelle’s found archived photos depicting breathtaking natural splendour, Marley flashes a knowing grin that appears to celebrate the juxtaposition between artifice and luxury, and the real and the staged.
This postmodern sense of ambiguity is something LaChapelle has helped define since the salad days of his legendary career. Here, this method is employed to break from convention and disrupt the status quo. “I think that crossing cultures is a sensitive conversation because it’s often led by the one in power” Marley says. “Although I am one that finds traveling to be a spiritual experience, I also find it necessary to be sensitive to the culture that I choose to include myself in and be mindful that I am not invading spaces.”
The Fall-Winter 2019 campaign’s open dialogue between LaChapelle’s photography in 2019 and the treasure trove of his found images from bygone eras speaks to today’s era where nothing is quite what it seems, and the need for new spaces for shared communality. “We don’t exist in a vacuum; therefore, we must welcome in and seek out the beauty and strife of all people. Celebrating the intersections of cultures progresses us into a truly global community which we need in order to leave the world better than we found it” says Browning.