Interview - Kenzine, the Kenzo official blog

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Sight is the sense prized most of all by movie-makers, and the inclusion of the word “eye” in a film title is not without significance, often alluding to subtleness, double-crossing or recursion.

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 It is as if the producers wanted us to watch the movie twice, rather than letting us sit back and indulge in a lengthy tale. In an era when we are all under the surveillance of the electronic eyes of cameras phones, the question of eyes and what they see has never been more relevant.

Tokyo Eyes (Jean-Pierre Limosin, France, 1998) A hi-tech romantic stroll through Tokyo under the pretext of a police investigation. Cell phones are a breakthrough technology, devices are getting tinier by the minute, and miniature video cameras –and eyes– are everywhere…

The summer season at Kenzo will be all about the jungle and its exploration.
We have encountered psychedelic forests and unending rows of orchids, we have crossed paths with clouded leopards while dressed in Jungle Camo or Spotted Zebra. This time we have gone on a more scientific yet equally inspired journey, which we now desire to share with you...


Mokèlé Mbembé is a cryptozoology project (the scientific study of animals whose existence has not been proven), begun by Jérôme Raynaud, trained biologist and director of discovery documentaries (exploring topics such as animals, anthropology, travel, cultures, etc.), Michel Ballot, a self-taught researcher and key player in international cryptozoology (he has spent over 10 years researching the Mokélé-Mbembé) and the Comptoir Général, a space dedicated to ghetto art located on the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris. Together they plan to organize an expedition following the tracks of a mysterious African diplodocus... The animal is said to be the size of a forest elephant with a long neck ending in a serpent's head, a long tail and four legs with three-toed feet!


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KENZINE: Could you tell us about the project, how you met and the expedition team?

Jérôme Raynaud: In 2009, I got in touch with Michel Ballot to put together an expedition with access to ultra-modern technological resources in order to make significant progress in this research. We have already carried out several small-scale expeditions in the past few years. After discovering new evidence offering real scientific interest, we now aim to conduct a series of expeditions with greater technological resources. We lacked the financial means to plan a larger-scale expedition, including a team of scientists who could study this zoologically rich area that is totally unique. I then contacted the Comptoir Général, which wished to join in the adventure to help us reach new technical and financial partners. They also wanted to handle the public relations for this project and make their extraordinary space available to us, a space which is very well-suited to the project.

Le Comptoir Général: The collaboration began as the result of an encounter with Jérôme Raynaud, which came about through a mutual friend. We watched a six-minute video teaser, which was all it took to give us goosebumps, leave tears in our eyes and stir up an intense desire to take part in the adventure. In this story, the Comptoir Général is playing its usual role of a ghetto art museum and a proponent of off-road exploration. We are producing a film of the expedition, creating background documentation chronicling the rich literature on the subject that dates back a century, and we are also raising funds, support and sponsorship for the project. As with all of our projects, a physical exhibit has been designed for the project that is open to visitors daily at our Canal Saint-Martin space. In the future we hope to delve more thoroughly into the world of science, especially "amateur" research. Given the technological changes that have taken place in the past few years, it is highly probably that the major discoveries of tomorrow will be made by "budding" scientists. We hope to be an encouragement to them. We are convinced there are still so many things left to discover.

K: Could you briefly explain what cryptozoology is?

LCG: It is a "pseudoscience" that examines mythical and folkloric animals whose existence has not been proven. It is a discipline that unfortunately was increasingly neglected and ridiculed in the 20th century, the century during which everything that was considered foolish or dangerous was rationalized. In short, it’s a lost cause (just the way we like them) and a godsend for the Comptoir Général.
J. R.: Science estimates that there are currently between 8-30 million living species on our planet. Only 1.8 million have been officially identified by science. There are then between 6-28 million species left to discover. Every year, we discover 16,000 new species.
In the etymological sense of the word, cryptozoology is the study of animals that have not yet been formally identified by science. It is a term that was invented in the 1950s by Bernard Heuvelmans, a zoologist who passed away in 2001. This term is currently associated with many scientific hoaxes, or at the very least, many legends that are treated with varying degrees of seriousness and which are often seen as jokes. The Wildman, which the media commonly refers to as the Yeti, is a prime example. Although the topic is currently prone to ridicule, the mystery still remains, and several scientists who work at recognized institutions are convinced of his existence.

However, at its origin, this discipline is based on the same principles as conventional zoology. Most of the animal species that we know exist today were at one time or another unknown. They were discovered through testimonials from local populations or isolated tribes who know their environment better than anyone else, for the simple reason that their survival depends on this knowledge (knowledge of hunting, of animals to beware of, etc.).
The stories of how the gorilla, the okapi and Przewalski's horses were discovered are perfect examples: Whereas local populations had spoken of these animals for years, nobody wanted to believe them. It was only through the perseverance of convinced researchers that these animals were later discovered.

K: Could you describe the Mokèlé diplodocus for us? How can its survival be explained?
J. R.: The animal we are tracking is only considered to be a "diplodocus" because of the image that men have attributed to it ever since they first became aware of these testimonials, which date back more than three centuries. Testimonials gathered from local populations living in the Congo River basin generally agree on the fact that the animal is the size of a forest elephant (smaller than its savanna neighbor) and has a long neck that ends with a serpent's head, a long tongue and four legs with three-toed feet. Some also mention a backbone, while others describe a "horn" on its head, details that could illustrate sexual dimorphism.

However, some testimonies also speak of Mokélé as an animal resembling a triceratops, or an armor-plated rhinoceros (a species that is now extinct yet was found only in Asia). Thus, if the animal that these people have described for centuries was a species of forest rhinoceros, this would already be an extraordinary zoological discovery, because no rhino has ever been observed in this region of the world to date.
However, most of these testimonials (which have been collected in areas far enough from each other to prevent the populations from being able to join together and create a farce) generally describe an animal that has a long neck, is the size of an elephant and has a long tail. This description always points back to the only animal we know of with this physique, the diplodocus. However, just as both both bats and birds can fly yet are completely different species from an evolutionary standpoint, nothing prevents us from saying that this animal could be a hippopotamus with a long tail, a crocodile with a long neck, or a completely new species... Discovering which animal these populations have spoken of for such a long time is the primary objective of our expeditions.

K: How do you know that this journey isn't a lost cause?
LCG: It is a lost cause. However, lost causes aren't ever completely lost. Especially when you believe. We find that the world is in a rather paradoxical situation: what is neglected or rejected very often has immense value. The notions of "richness" and "poverty" should be completely rethought. The same applies to the idea of modernity, as well as to the idea of the colonizer/colonized. Values such as exoticism and traditionalism, which have unfortunately taken on a pejorative connotation, should be reappropriated. The world is moving and changing. The future is not what we have thought it to be. Many people consider Africa to be a "lost continent" and believe the future is in China and India. We are of a different opinion.
J. R.: This trip would be a lost cause if someone could look me in the eye and tell me confidently that there is nothing left to discover in our universe, and more specifically, on our planet. Scientists agree that there are currently several million undiscovered species on our planet. They discover 16,000 new specifies every year. This area is one of the most primitive yet one of the least explored on the planet, and is home to the greatest number of endemic species. In short, anyone who delves deep into this forest will be able to discover a new species, be it an insect, fish, rodent, amphibian or plant... Such a discovery, as small as it may seem to the general public, will always be an extraordinary discovery on the scale of life, science and humanity.

K: At Kenzo, the jungle is the theme of our Spring/Summer season. It is a very recurrent motif today, both in music and fashion. What does the jungle represent to you from a cultural and environmental point of view, as well as from a conceptual or mystical point of view?

LCG: Indeed, the tropical theme is very present in artistic circles. It's something that has been promoted for over ten years. We kind of feel like pioneers of this trend, especially when it comes to music. Etienne "DJ" Tron, one of the two founders of the Comptoir Général, is the first to have reintroduced this neo-tropicalism in 2003 with projects such as Radioclit, The Very Best and Secousse music nights and compilations, etc. This is very likely a follow-up to a few "cold" years during which we thought robots would take over the world, when we thought the future of art was going to be "electronic." Daft Punk’s album "Human After All" really resonated in a strong way. Organic sounds came back into style, along with earthiness and original trance...  Exoticism made a huge comeback after being denigrated for decades. What we appreciate about the jungle is the idea of balanced chaos, intense motion, mysteries, the unknown, the plant and animal world, something that is bigger than ourselves. It makes us want to explore.
J. R.: The jungle is also the environment that we come from, because we can now admit without shame that man is an animal that has become empowered. We have left this wild environment to which we never really were able to adapt. As weak, slow beings, we were never able to deal with dominant species, and were often prime objects of prey rather than fierce predators. This was true until the day we decided to use our brains rather than our muscles or teeth, and preferred to live in an environment we made in our own image. By mastering the art of hunting and agriculture, we took control and "tamed" nature. However, this occurred in a defined, controlled and sheltered environment, and eventually we became removed from the "wild" world to create a new "evolved" world. Time has since passed. However, this wild world still exists, but now these two worlds are as different as day and night since the jungle has become unlivable for the modern, evolved man. Finding yourself in the jungle is a fascinating sensation, similar to swimming in the ocean. Something in us remembers our past... and yet the fact this world is not our own and that we cannot survive here terrifies us.

Today, the jungle (as well as the deserts, savannas and mountains) fascinates us and touches for reasons of which we are not aware. We contemplate these landscapes and photograph them because we fear they will elude us, whereas in fact they touch the deepest part of our being. We don’t understand them anymore, yet they tell us something, like an echo of our former lives. There is nothing mystical or magical about the jungle; it simply speaks to those who are willing to listen.


K: What is ghetto art, and is it in fact the Comptoir Général's aim to stop its marginalization?

LCG: Ghetto art is a term that we still hesitate to use after many years of consideration. We talk more often now about "ghetto cultures."  It is about identifying any marginalized emerging culture phenomenon, anything born out of the shadows, without any resources; something that is neglected, abandoned, forgotten, misunderstood, etc. It can apply to any artistic sector, as well as religion, science, education and medicine. We believe that there are ghetto plants, medicines and beliefs, as well as ghetto architectural theories. It deals in large part with black culture. We are also surprised at the immense value of certain individuals or projects that society marginalizes. Music has opened our eyes to extremely vibrant local scenes (coupé décalé, baile funk, kuduro, ghetto house, grime, funana, etc.), and yet they are completely disregarded. If we want to preserve and make all of these cultures known, it should not be motivated by the feeling that they need us. Rap did not need our help to become the best-selling music genre in the world. We are the ones who need these cultures. We want first and foremost to give ourselves some help, whether it be our descendants, France, Europe, the West or the world. The world is in danger. It is in the process of reinventing itself, and we wish to harness this ghetto energy in support of creating a more sustainable and ethical future.


More information available at:
To support the project:

Ahead of his performance at our party with Purple Magazine to celebrate London Fashion Week tonight, Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange) spends five minutes with Kenzine! Born in Houston and raised in the UK, it is New York City that’s really roused the songwriter, producer and composer’s inspiration for the last five years. Working on songs for artists such as Florence and the Machine and The Chemical Brothers, Hynes often makes mixtapes in his Brooklyn apartment, listening to them whilst travelling around the city at nighttime.


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What is it about New York at night that you find so inspiring?
I'm a very nocturnal person and when I was writing the Coastal Grooves album, I was spending a lot of time running around at night, skating or riding my bike and going for long walks or frequenting tranny bars. I can write anywhere but this is the best city in the world.


Is there anything you would change about it?
New York has changed a lot since I have been here, but only in the way that every major Western city in the First World does. I don't complain about it like most people do. Shit happens and you just have to ride the shit waves, you know?

How different is it when you’re making music for yourself compared to making it for somebody else? You’re working with Solange Knowles right now.
It’s not different at all. When I write songs, I always want someone else to sing them so to me it's all the same. I'm not precious over the songs. If anything, me keeping them would hold them back.


Seeing as you are originally from the UK, what influences do you take from there?
I'm sure it has affected me, but I couldn't say how because all I’ve really known for the last five years is New York City.

How did music come into your life? I read somewhere that you began with playing the piano at age 7.
Well, my sister played piano and we were close and I always wanted to be around her, so I followed her to piano lessons. Then as I got older, I switched to cello, but the piano was how I got into playing music. Also at home, there would be a radio on in every room of the house and I’m sure that must have had some affect on me.


Do you need silence when working?
Oh no, I watch TV or movies when I write. There’s nothing that I really re-watch over and over, but I just put stuff on to watch while I work. The only time I do need silence is when I’m hungover!

In a freakishly cold warehouse in the shadow of the Olympic stadium in far eastern London, the crew shivered as a beautiful girl named Nadia punched the air over and over. Filmmaker Quentin Jones, coolly tomboyish in sneakers and a bomber jacket, leapt into the neon set and demonstrated a fighter’s stance: “A bit more like this.” The shoot for Quentin’s video for Kenzo’s pre-fall collection was a supercharged, inspiring day. We have been fans of Quentin’s collaged stop-motion films for a while now, and jumped at the chance to work with her on this piece. I asked Quentin a few questions as the film hits the web this week.

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Rory Satran: It was incredible on-set to see how precise you are. Every movement is accounted for. Was there anything on this shoot that was surprising or improvised?
Quentin Jones: Every shoot has some aspects that are spontaneous - they are usually the best bits, but you need to have planned everything else meticulously to allow yourself the freedom to play around outside of the necessary shots.


RS: Everyone wants to know the basics of exactly how you make your collaged, stop-motion films. Can you describe the process very briefly?
QJ: It involves a digital layering up of handmade moving elements and moving frames of the girl/subject. It is kind of like sewing together different visual ingredients over a timeline.


RS: Your Kenzo girl is super strong and independent. How did you conceive of her? How do you see the new Kenzo?
QJ: We wanted her to be elegant, but have a hardness about her - a bewitching fighter. I think this sort of female reflects the collection - it is sometimes beautiful and soft with feminine prints and sometimes quite sporty and tough. I thought it would be cool to drop her into an urban playground, and see her warming up and playing with hoops and other structures.


RS: The stylist on this project was the very talented Agata Belcen, who is a Cambridge classmate of yours. How do you work with Agata?
QJ: Agata and I are pretty seasoned at collaborating on films together now, from bouncing initial ideas around, to making storyboards together, and not treading on each others toes too much on set. She made up the idea of the ribbon gloves for this film, which looked amazing.

RS: How did your philosophy studies shape your work in film?
QJ: I suppose/hope it shapes the way I problem solve within my work. I like to think I have a quite an analytical mind, so face visual dilemmas as puzzles that can be solved.


RS: We shot in the shadow of the construction of the Olympic stadium. Are you excited or freaked out by the impending U.K. Olympics?
QJ: I haven't really thought about it much, maybe because I don't watch a great deal of television. It should be a really fun time to be in London though - for parties and general summer vibes.


RS: Fashion film is a new(ish) phenomenon that you are definitely riding the wave of. How can film augment a brand's vision? What are some fashion films you've admired recently?
QJ: I think film allows a brand to create a moment of escapism into a world of their vision and personality. If they are successful, the audience gets to experience what it means to 'live' that label from their desk or bed. They need to be entertaining to capture new audiences, and not just pretty moving images.
Two of my favourite fashion films are by Stephanie Di Giusto, and Barnaby Roper (both not recent though!)


RS: Where do you work? Describe the scene: music, snacks, staff, view?
QJ: I work in an old factory studio in Camden, London. We are on a mezzanine level over another office, and our space is full of old props and scraps of illustration. I would say it looks more like an art space than one for film making. We eat peanut butter M+Ms, while over-dosing on Earl Grey tea. My assistant and old friend Kamila has much better taste than me in music so I force her to make us studio playlists...otherwise I punish her with 90s nostalgia on loop.

RS: What's next for QJ?
QJ: As usual most things are secrets until they come out - but for me personally I want each project to be new/distinct, and at least exciting for me to work on.... because then they stand a chance of being cool for everyone else.

On Tuesday night Robyn performed at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England, kicking off her tour with Coldplay, where she will be sporting Kenzo! After the show we asked Robyn’s stylist and choreographer, and creator of the website, Decida, some questions about the show and her work with Robyn.

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Why don’t you start off by introducing yourself to our Kenzine readers. You seem to be quite polyfacetic: the dance, the styling, the art directing, the charm; it clearly all converges in your internet presence.

I'm a net-native stereotypophobe, a transnational 2FACED1 based in Stockholm! Like the huge pop culture nerd I am, I'm trying to understand as much as possible about it and how it affects the modern day identity. I'm interested in clothing as an identity cursor, as symbols, as a part of a context. I prefer to work in different media and I’ve got a certain style and way of seeing things that is possible to communicate through these different avenues. Styling, Creative Direction and Choreography is just some of them.


So, how was the Robyn show the other day?
It was great! Ricoh Arena in Coventry, England, took about 40,000 Coldplay fans. The vibe is something extra special at these big arenas! Robyn was fierce as always, but it's different to perform in front of somebody else's audience compared to twelve thousand of her own die hard fans like the last show in Hollywood Bowl!


How did you and Robyn meet, and in which ways do you two collaborate today?
D: It’s a really organic way of collaborating, we have a lot in common and understand each other’s references. My main areas when working with her are Style and Stage Direction/Choreography but we talk about pretty much everything…!
Stockholm isn't that big, so we met via a mutual friend, Lojsan. Robyn wanted my opinion about how dance could be an integrated part of her then (2009) up-coming albums, the Body Talk trilogy, which was about to feature a lot of electronic dance music. We went for a three hour coffee and clicked.

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Asma Maroof and Daniel Pineda are Nguzunguzu, DJs and producers hailing not only from Los Angeles but also from that hyperactive corner of the global urban dancefloor where genres meld and proliferate. In their widely acclaimed mixes, mainstream R&B discovers its tropical roots, rap finds secret affinities with Caribbean zouk and Angolan kizomba, Chicago footwork gets into a surprise cipher with UK grime and musique concrète—it's pop at its most glorious. Their records, like "Timesup" released last summer by Fade To Mind, sound like the second coming of Timbaland for the YouTube rips generation.  They've offered a soundtrack of bass, noise and melody to our FW12 runway show, so we wanted to know them a little bit better. 

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You seem to appeal equally to the art crowd, the club-goers and the music nerds. What are your current favorite visual artist, DJ/producer and obscure track?

Fatima Al Qadiri and Subtranca are our favorite visual artists. 

DJs: Total Freedom and Kingdom!

I love this white label of Anita Baker's "Sweet Love" jungle mix



How did you go about assembling the amazing mix you did for the Kenzo FW12 show?        

A lot of catwalking around our apartment! No joke! Well, Humberto and Carol explained they wanted something really upbeat for the show, describing "interiors" as one of the inspirations, and attaching photos of the breathtaking space for the show. This was super inspiring, and we just went from there!


Can you tell us a bit about your band with Total Freedom and Kingdom? Is improv (still) a big part of your recording process? 

Yes definitely! That is how we all work together. We sync so well that alls we have to do is press record. 


Coming from Martinique, one of the birthplaces of zouk, I loved your "Perfect Lullaby" mix. Could you recommend a couple of zouk songs or remixes?  

Cool! U probably have a lot of great zouk tracks too! Hmm, a couple not on our mix are: Mariah Carey, Touch My Body (Phraze remix) and Rihanna, Rehab (Peejay remix).


Listening to your "Moments in Love" mixtape, I couldn't help thinking about those ragga comps with twenty guys jumping on the latest riddimDo you have a favorite version?

Hahah totally! I have this rip from MySpace that Kingdom gave me by this girl Katarina called "Break Up". It's my fav version at the moment.  


Do you have some new releases on the horizon? Some touring?

We are touring US now!!!! We have an EP release coming soon on Hippos in Tanks and also a follow up on Fade to Mind!!!! #2012