All eyes were on Kenzo's Spring 2018 show, in which creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon sent 83 models of Asian descent down the runway in colorful patterns and prints in order to honour the brand's Japanese heritage.
The moment, inspired in part by muses Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and model Sayoko Yamaguchi, served as the launching pad for Kenzo's newest creative project: a film called Yo! My Saint. Debuting today, the nine-minute long film mixes elements of music, fashion, and art, directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and with music by Yeah Yeah Yeahs front woman Karen O.
'Humberto and I are technically the producers,' Lim explained in a statement. 'The beautiful part about this is it's two women that decided to make this film together. It's an amazing artistic endeavour and a conversation between two women. A female musician and a female director. That's kind of the starting point of this.'
The film stars musician Alex Zhang Hungtai (formerly known as Dirty Beaches) and Game of Thrones actress Jessica Henwick. Also featured is Japanese model Kiko Mizuhara, who has been seen on the catwalks of Marc Jacobs and Chanel, as well as in campaigns for Opening Ceremony. Yo! My Saint features all three donning pieces from the Kenzo Spring 2018 collection.
Amirpour, known best for her feature film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, both directed the project and helped write the storyline with Karen O. Musician Michael Kiwanuka, whose song 'Cold Little Heart' served as the theme for Big Little Lies, sang in a duet with Karen O for the track.
'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,' Karen O said. 'For the music, 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 begins with a photographer (played by Hungtai) fixed on his model muse, played by Henwick. The second half of the film then careens into a dreamy, fluorescent-lit scene set in a karaoke bar, featuring Mizuhara, before the song peters out on a serene, quiet note.
'I wasn't thinking of it as, "Oh, I'm just gonna write a song,"' Karen O said. 'I was thinking of it more as like, I'm gonna write a piece with different sections and that would take you on this emotional journey. They didn't necessarily feel like they had to belong together, but there's also this cohesiveness between them.'
The film project is part of a larger initiative by Kenzo to pay homage to its Japanese roots, according to its designers. '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.'
Kenzo's Yo! My Saint debuts today online.