TêTE à TêTE WITH KIRCHKNOPF + GRAMBOW - Kenzine, the Kenzo official blog

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Toni Halonen is the Finnish designer who has illuminated this season's KENZOPEDIA with the vivid colours of his digital paintbox. We caught up with him to find out what makes him tick...

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KENZINE: Which was your favorite letter to illustrate? Why?
Toni Halonen: This far my favorite has been letter ‘I’. It was fun to mix KENZO's aesthetics with elements from iconography.

K: Which word would you like to hear used more?
T.H.: Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas. Thats the longest word in the Finnish language. It translates as ‘airplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student’. I would love to see someone pull that one off in a casual conversation.

 

K: How did you approach your designs?
T.H.: Well how it usually goes is that I read the brief and try to come up with some ideas without much of success. Then when I am doing something completely different the idea strikes me. I drop everything else, pick up my stylus and start sketching.

K: What values or aesthetic elements do you share with KENZO?
T.H.: Bright colors, twisted humor, hand-sketched rawness. I never had to ‘work’ on doing something KENZO. It came quite naturally.

K: What's your KENZO spirit animal? Tiger or Fish?
T.H.: Tiger. It’s actually my Japanese Zodiac sight.

K: Describe yourself in one sentence.
T.H.: Cool cat living up north, trying to make a living.

 

K: What is your favorite thing to draw?
T.H.: I would love to do more abstract works. That’s definitely something I want to concentrate more on future.

K: Your favorite font?
T.H.: Only one?! That’s like asking a DJ for his favorite song. My song could be Phil Collins in the air tonight and the font has to be Futura (the old version) even though I don't use it much anymore.

K: If you were stranded on a desert island, what could you not live without?
T.H.: My record collection

K: If you were a color in a paint box, which would you be and why?
T.H.: Maybe a crazy multicolored one. Like those multicolored pens that you had when you were a child. And when you pushed out all the colors at the same time you could draw some crazy stuff.

K: What was the last gift you received?
T.H.: I was playing records in St. Petersburg and got some great vinyl singles from the local record boss, Kirill. Unfortunately after playing the whole night and some russian vodka they mystically disappeared…

K: KENZO is all about traveling, which city or place most inspires you?
T.H.: I have to say even that I love travelling, my home city Helsinki is the most inspiring place for me.

K: Your next dream travel destination?
T.H.: I would love to visit Marrakech in Morroco, and  check out The Majorelle Garden. I also love Morroccan carpets. There's some beautiful rawness in those from which we can all learn something.

K: If you hadn't become a graphic artist, you would have been a...
T.H.: I already changed career once. I used to study architecture before following my heart and ventured into graphic arts. So don't make me go through that again! :)

TOILETPAPER strikes again this season and creates a second campaign for KENZO tinted with their very own sense of humour and  surrealism.

They explain how they came up with those unique images...
 

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KENZINE: The Fall/Winter campaign 2013 was an outright success and many people suggested it was one of the strongest of the year… Not bad for a first campaign as a team! According to you, what does it take to create a great campaign and make a difference?

Toiletpaper team: Toiletpaper images are made of simple images: it’s something you can easily describe during a dinner with friends, but without being able to completely explain that uncanny feeling it creates in your stomach. Same thing for the campaign: it probably worked well because of its way of treating the familiar as unfamiliar and vice versa.


K: what are the key elements you need when you create a campaign for KENZO?

TP: We’re not sure if there are key elements, because every change is good for creativity, and every habit is probably not. We believe that KENZO is a brand that fits our ideas and our vision of beauty like a glove. It's as simple as this.

 

K: The first time you shot for KENZO, the set was a bit crazy with the two horses, the kittens and Humberto’s mask... This time, was it more serious?

TP: As we said before, we like to change a lot from time to time… It had nothing to do with seriousness, since those huge plastic fishes were like a punch in the eye of tastefulness, weren't they?

 

K: What was the initial brief from Carol and Humberto?

TP: It’s a strange feeling: it is really hard to recall how it started when the work is finished… We probably talked about monastery and Orient, and some music also… But in the end, during the shooting brainstorming continues independently from where it started, as a Chinese whisper.

K: What was the inspiration? A bit of Hokusai? Film Noir? Mythology? Surrealism?

TP: If you want to come with a good recipe, you need to mix together a lot of ingredients, but none of them should cover the others. Just remember that in our dishes what looks tasty and yummy usually is also lethal.. Try it at your own risk!

 

K: Did you start with drawings, mood boards, collages?

TP: Basically mood boards and collages, but we must admit that the hardest side of working with us is probably that you’ll never know what to expect until you’re on shooting phase: that’s the moment where great ideas spring like frogs in a pond.

 

K: Who does what inside the TOILETPAPER team during the photo shoot?

TP: There are some phases of the work while we discuss all together, these sharing moments are fundamental for the shooting phase. Then naturally we begin to outline the roles more and more. Maurizio, is a kind of a deus ex machina who always manages to keep the right distance from the images, to criticize them in a neutral manner. Pierpaolo has this ability to improvise and reinvent, changing a comma or a whole set, even things that were already established. Micol is the aesthetic eye, and she knows how to tip the balance in the final stage of the number, when the cake is done and the decoration on top is missing. In any case, the territories do not have clear boundaries, and the invasion is more than welcome, because there are no fixed rules.

 

K: How was it like to shoot kids this time, do they allow more creativity, more craziness, more energy?

TP:  We are like children too, so the feeling was not very different from what we usually get during the set.

K: How was it like to work with Devon and Paul?
TP: They were great, it’s not so easy to find people who play your game by your rules!

 

K: You have influenced lots of different artists/photographers/designers, who influences you?

TP: A lot of artist, photographers and designers! And some very normal people as well: we are like sponges with legs: we go around, see things that affect our imagination and absorb them… That’s why it’s not so easy to go back to the influencers.

 

K: What is the best advice you have ever been given?

TP: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

 

K: A  secret you could share with us about the shooting?

TP: We brought the fish back home and keep it in an inflatable pool. It’s still there in our office

 

K: What are your favorite pieces from the Spring/Summer collection and why?

TP: We liked everything so much we couldn’t make a choice, really!


K: What do you share with KENZO in terms of values, in terms of aesthetic?

TP: We both are colorful and do not take ourselves too seriously… That’s the secret to stay mentally young and creative.


K: Why is it important to be irreverent?

TP: Because otherwise you’re already dead.

California is the inspiration of our Spring/Summer collections and Carol and Humberto’s home state. We interviewed some inspiring friends to define the essence of the golden state, and Carrie Brownstein was definitely one of them!  Carrie became known as a guitarist and vocalist in band Sleater-Kinney in the early 90s and she is currently co-starring with Fred Armisen in Portlandia. Today, she shares her thoughts on the West Coast culture and music scene. 

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KENZINE: You were born in Seattle, according to you, what were the cultural specificities that made the West Coast the birthplace of American counter cultures?

Carrie Brownstein: I think the West Coast has always embodied an outlier status. Even from a migratory standpoint, the west is about pioneering, reaching the edge. But what's next, what do you do when you reach the ocean? You have to find new edges, break new boundaries. In the rear view mirror is the rest of America; on the West Coast you have the luxury of looking back, borrowing or being inspired from what is behind you, but also fucking up or messing with what didn't. It's about innovation. There is also a landscape to internalize out West: rugged, vast, the desert and the forest, vibrant colors and oppressive grays. If you combine all of that external variety into a person, someone sensitive like an artist or a scientist, what you get are freaks and freakiness, and I mean that in the best way possible.


K: How would you describe the differences between Northern and Southern California?

C.B.: Southern California is defined by exposure and Northern California by concealment. So, in SC you get people either basking in or aiming for exposure, you get art, music and novels that deal with the effects of over-exposure, what it feels like to live in a place that is a signifier as much as it is a geographical locale. But also, artistically and communally, there is the urge to create shelter, to carve out pockets of stillness and quiet. When I think of that I think of surfing or Summer goths, or punk rock, or underground restaurant culture, or skateboarders, people putting these figurative umbrellas up over the spotlight, shadows to live in and be inspired by. And up in NC, the mainstream grew out from the fringe. Those who were hiding out were found, were accepted: queer culture, pot-growers, radical thinkers, tech nerds. So, up north the trajectory is an outward journey, while in the southern part of the state it's a journey inward. What a weird, cool tension. 


K: Another important theme for KENZO this season is overfishing and that leads us to the important causes to fight for... In the 90s, you plaid a big part in the riot grrrl movement which started in Olympia, can you tell our readers (especially the youngest) what it was about and which values you were fighting for, as women but also as musicians?

C.B.: I think women wanted to carve out a space for ourselves in the music scene. At the time, the punk and indie scenes were very male-dominated, there weren't as many women playing in bands, there was a very distinct and gendered line in music. What defined music and the notion of a "rock star" was maleness. To be a musician who happened to be female was to not just be outside the scene, but to be outside of music itself, as if music wasn't intrinsic to being female, as if it wasn't innately owned. So, a lot of women felt like they had to claim music, and to do so, they had to rewrite the rules. Bands like Bikini Kill, Heavens to Betsy and Bratmobile sang about the experiences of femaleness, which were of course the only experiences they knew. And they did it in a way that was bold and fearless, they really galvanized the narrative, inserted their own stories and perspectives into the lineage of songwriting. They cleared a space so that subsequent bands could sing about whatever they wanted, could dismantle the notion of music or sounds as belonging to a single gender. My band, Sleater-Kinney, came along at the tail end of this. And I am so grateful that the space had already been fought for. We really just wanted to be considered a band, free to define ourselves however we wanted.


K: How did you make the music scene or even the world change?

C.B.: Hard to tell. All I know is that I look around and see so much amazing art--from fashion to film to music--that seems to draw from some of those 90s and 2000s musical moments, that sort of unequivocal line-in-the-sand feel, everything at stake. Except what's wonderful now is the aim for accessibility. So much about having to fight for something is that you greet the world with a punch, with a fist. You're on the defense, having to define who you are by everything you're not. Whereas now there is a sense that the strength is representational, there is an inviting quality to art right now, a sense of participation and generosity.


K: In 2009, you worked on the soundtrack of the documentary film ‘!Women Art Revolution’ by Lynn Hershman Leeson, do you still consider yourself as a riot grrrl or a feminist?

C.B.: I consider myself a feminist. And I just read these lines in the new Lorrie Moore short story collection that really sum up how I feel about feminism: "As a feminist you mustn't blame the other woman," a neighbor told her. "As a feminist I request that you no longer speak to me," Kit replied. Basically, I'm not interested in using feminism as a way of making other women feel bad. And I like the idea that men can be feminists. They can. It's merely one lens of many through which to view the world and phenomena.

 

K: The fourth season of Portlandia has an impressive list of guests, could you reveal us something fun that happened to any of them when you were shooting?

C.B.: Steve Buscemi and I were filming the end of a very epic sketch called 'Celery'. We play husband and wife who are on a yacht, sailing off into the sunset (well, more like sailing off on a river under the grey Portland skies). We went about 100 yards and hit a sandbar and we both nearly went overboard. I wouldn't exactly say we make the show very safe for our guest stars, but we do make it fun. Steve had a great time, it's always an honor to work with him, he' so brilliant. We really do feel lucky that so many musicians and actors want to come up to Portland and work with us.

 

Carrie wears our K jacket and a blouse from the resort collection.

With a Spring-Summer Collection for 2014 borne of a maelstrom of oceanic inspirations, we have made it our joint mission to assist in the fight against marine pollution, overfishing and destruction of marine life, through partnering with one of the strongest teams of conservationists today: BLUEBLUE’s mission statement is the active and effective protection of 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020, delivered through a network of marine reserves and private sector led solutions in the sea. We aked co-founder of Blue - Chris Gorell Barnes - to talk about the foundation, the dangers of overfishing and the future.

 

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KENZINE: Could you explain to us what The Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) is and who is behind it?
Chris Gorell Barnes: Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE) is a UK registered charity set up in 2010 by some of the team behind the award winning documentary film 'The End of the Line'. The team being Charles Clover, BLUE’s Chairman who wrote the book and both George Duffield and myself, Chris Gorell Barnes, BLUE’s Co-founders and Trustees. BLUE aims to significantly help fix the largest solvable problem on our planet - the crisis in our oceans - by protecting 10% of the world’s oceans by 2020. When BLUE began its work only 1% of the world’s oceans were protected. It has since dramatically increased, but still only 2.8% is protected.

 

K: What are the dangers of overfishing?
C.G.B.: It is difficult to know where to start as the impacts of overfishing can and are having such a powerful knock-on effect on some of the most critical ecosystems on our planet – ecosystems that don’t just support marine life but also in turn are of fundamental importance to human existence. Obviously, commercial fishing can lead to the extinction of certain key species if left unmanaged. The resulting impacts of dwindling fish stocks are then felt by those millions of people worldwide whose livelihoods and ability to feed their families are directly reliant on the sea, and eventually by extension the rest of the global population too. One billion people rely on fish and seafood as their main source of protein and 200 million people depend on fishing for their livelihoods. A world without fish is simply inconceivable. Then there are all the complex scientific impacts of overfishing to the many other species that are part of the same complex ecosystems, from corals to the algae that helps absorb up to 50% of global carbon dioxide emissions, more than the Amazon rainforests in fact. If overfishing is allowed to continue at its present rate, the long-term consequences for all of us could be ultimately catastrophic.

 

K: Dangers of overfishing are not only limited to the oceans but the environment as a whole. Could you tell us a bit more about the interdependence relationships between marine, terrestrial and space environments?
C.G.B.: Put simply, the oceans produce over half of the oxygen we breathe and currently absorb over half the CO2 generated by human activity. You don’t have to be a scientist to see how serious the implications for all land-based life could be if these crucial oceanic ‘life support systems’ are allowed to slip into terminal decline.  Healthy oceans can form a buffer against acidification.

 

K: From an economical stand point, about 200 million people financially depend on fishing. How could we reconcile economic need and environmental impact?
C.G.B.: You are right that millions of people worldwide are either directly or indirectly reliant on fishing for their income. And of course it would not be right to introduce policies that leave these people jobless and unable to feed their families.  Almost always better management of the fish stocks would actually provide a higher economic return, as an economic study BLUE has done on the Atlantic Bluefin tuna has demonstrated.  The secret, as enlightened organisations like BLUE are demonstrating, is to introduce quota systems and marine protected areas (MPAs) that involve the fishermen directly in their management, removing the “Us-verses-Them” mentality that has seen previous attempts at fisheries management fall short. At the same time, national governments need to be firmer in their dealings with commercial fishing lobbyists, to ensure legislation balances commercial, social and environmental imperatives more effectively than is sadly the case at present in many places.

 

K: As of today there are many endangered fish species: is it possible to find a list somewhere?
C.G.B.: From a consumer’s point of view, reliable sources would come from online fish rating guides set by either the Marine Conservation Society fishonline in UK, Monterey Bay Seafood Watch in US or WWF seafood guides in other countries. The guides allow consumers to check which species of fish are ok to eat or which you need to avoid. If you want to find out which restaurants are making efforts to conserve wild fish stocks  in UK, France, Spain, US, Belgium and Switzerland then visit our sister company fish2fork.com.

 

K: Bluefin Tuna is so rare today that certain pieces are estimated at over a million dollar on certain markets. How did it become possible?
C.G.B.: Really it’s just a simple case of supply and demand. Bluefin tuna were plentiful not that long ago but as fishing technology has evolved, the odds are hugely stacked in the fishermen’s favor and the tuna no longer have much of a chance. At the same time, the demand from countries like Japan and various high-end restaurants worldwide that should know better by now has seen Bluefin become almost the ‘foie gras of the sea’ – ethically indefensible, increasingly rare and priced accordingly. There has been some improvement in the management of the Atlantic Bluefin tuna, precisely because of the campaign around our film, but there has yet to be full recovery and other, related species in the Pacific are in a dire state. Think of a world where similar supply and demand issues mean that ‘everyday’ species like cod and sea bass cost the same as Bluefin tuna – this is part of the scenario BLUE and its allies are working hard to avoid.

 

K: Asia is one of the most impacted areas by overfishing even though its population depends a lot on fish proteins. Isn't it a paradox?
C.G.B.: Well, it’s actually the perfect example of how we can’t expect to take unlimited amounts of fish from the ocean on an endless basis. There has to be balance. People need to understand that if they are going to continue to rely on fish as a mainstay of their diets, their fish stocks need to be managed accordingly and they should also explore alternative species aside from their staples like tuna. Farmed fish is obviously another important part of the equation and certainly not without its issues, either.

 

K: It would be unthinkable to find meat of endangered species in our plates such as rhinoceros or tiger. However, we do find a lot of endangered species of fish on the menus of many restaurants. Is overfishing still an unknown topic?
C.G.B.: The Rhino point is a good analogy – eating a Bluefin tuna is in many ways no better than eating a rare land animal. Part of the problem is a stubborn resistance by many high-end restaurant and hotel chains to remove these critically-endangered species from their menus. At the same time, greater public education is needed. People should feel as much empathy with a Bluefin tuna, shark or sea bass as they do with a veal calf or foie gras goose. There will always be a depressing minority who will carry out consuming endangered species regardless but we also see signs that public opinion is increasingly starting to shift in favour of protection for the more at-risk fish species. Ultimately these chefs need to ask themselves whether they would be comfortable serving gorilla or elephant steaks and, if not, why is it okay to advertise Bluefin tuna or shark on their menus?

 

K: One of your main goal is to protect the marine life by creating protected areas in the oceans. How does it work?
C.G.B.: BLUE’s entire model is focused on the importance of creating greater numbers of marine protected areas (MPAs) or reserves – areas under formal legal protection from certain forms of fishing or, in some cases, any fishing at all, as well as creating other conservation partnerships in the sea. There is a strong body of scientific research that demonstrates the potential of marine reserves to help reverse the current general decline in ocean health and fish stocks. When BLUE was founded in 2010, just one per cent of the world’s total ocean surface was under protection. Today that figure stands at 2.8 per cent but through our work and that of our peers, we want to see at least 10 per cent of total global ocean under active and effective protection by 2020. By targeting primarily foundations, high-net-worth individuals and corporates we are also engaging those with the funds available to make a genuine difference quickly.

 

K: In order to protect oceans, one of the solutions we found was farming. Today it is criticized for many reasons. Could you explain why this practice is very harmful for the marine life?
C.G.B.: This is a complex issue even by conservation standards. Obviously fish farms can offer a sustainable source of fish if managed effectively. However they can also be very detrimental to the health of their own fish and surrounding ecosystems if not managed appropriately. So I think it’s safe to say that the jury is still out. That said, as with farming on land, there are many examples of small-scale fish farms that are doing things right and we would obviously support these examples as part of the solution to the current ocean crisis.

 

K: Everybody can do a little something in order to protect the oceans. Could you give us tips that can have a big impact in the long run?
C.G.B.: The best thing individual consumers can do is to scrutinize the fish they eat more closely – specifically, what is the species, where was it caught and what fishing method was used? Look out for on-pack sustainable certification labels such as ‘MSC’ (Marine Stewardship Council for certifying sustainable seafood) avoid any brands/products that don’t demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Also scrutinize the menus at your favorite restaurants and lobby the owner/chef if you spot anything that looks like it contravenes accepted guidelines for fish sustainability – stocking Bluefin tuna or other critically endangered species, for example, or not displaying any commitment to marine conservation. Again, there are some real good guys out there but the vast majority still has work to do.

 

K: How were you approached by KENZO and what was your reaction?
C.G.B.: Carol and Humberto from KENZO approached BLUE proactively because they were looking for a charity partner that reflected their own beliefs and what we had to say really struck a chord with them. They explained the reason they chose us out of hundreds of other marine conservation charities was because we were actually doing something about the issue, instead of just talking about it. Our charity has been partly responsible for a significant rise in the total percentage of global ocean currently protected.
We were absolutely thrilled. We always wanted to be cutting edge and innovative and with the help of inspirational extraordinary brands like KENZO and our other existing partners Orlebar Brown and Crème de La Mer, we are able to get our message across to a wider audience in ways that appeal directly to them.

 

K: Could you explain us the key elements of your partnership with KENZO?
C.G.B.: Our partnership with KENZO is based fundamentally on our shared passion of the ocean, being aware of the crisis in our oceans and wanting to do something to solve it. I believe our partnership with KENZO has proven how global fashion brands can communicate and really drive positive change. Not only are KENZO supporting BLUE with donated funds but they are taking a proactive role in helping spread awareness of overfishing on a global scale. This can only be a positive thing.

 

K: Before this partnership, what were you visions about fashion and what did you know about KENZO?
C.G.B.: We had operated cause-related partnerships with other fashion and lifestyle brands before, such as Orlebar Brown and Crème De La Mer. Obviously we were very much aware of KENZO as a global label but this represented a great new opportunity for BLUE in terms of the profile of our corporate partners.

 

K: Brands were in the target of environmentalists for a long time and today they become spokesperson for causes they care very much about. How do you analyze it? 
C.G.B.: I think enlightened companies in all industries are increasingly conscious that they have to demonstrate a commitment to a greater social and environmental purpose and corporate citizenship in order to protect their license to operate. This is more true in this era of social media than ever before and also, with public trust in business at something of an all-time low, there is a higher demand for “doing good” and transparency in all areas. So I think the smarter and more forward-looking brands are realizing they can use their profile and commercial power to deliver progress on critical issues like the environment by partnering with credible charities like BLUE. Without a meaningful purpose a brand won’t thrive.

 

K: 'No Fish No Nothing' is the catchphrase found by Carol and Humberto to sum up the stake and the seriousness of the situation. It is also a line inspired by the foundation. How do you feel about it?
C.G.B.: We are obviously delighted to be afforded such a prestigious and high-profile platform by a brand of KENZO’s stature. It will bring a whole new audience to our campaign whilst also demonstrating the depth of Carol and Humberto’s commitment to environmental issues. BLUE will of course benefit, as will KENZO. But the most important beneficiary will be the ocean.

 

K: What are you favorite pieces of the line (see the line for women and men)?
C.G.B.: I think the sweatshirts really stand out for me – they are beautiful and striking to look at, whilst also raising awareness of our cause in an unexpected manner. We couldn’t be happier with how Carol and Humberto’s designs have turned out. It really is an honor for a charity like BLUE to see our emblem alongside the cult KENZO logo but we mustn’t forget that ultimately this is all about saving the seas, an issue even more important than high fashion!

 

K: What change will this partnership with KENZO allow in 2014? 
C.G.B.: This is our first big collaborative launch with KENZO and we all hope for a big success of our BLUE capsule collection ‘No Fish, No Nothing’, from which KENZO are generously donating a % of sales from the sweatshirts and t-shirts directly to BLUE. Even without being able to gauge the success of the monies raised from the collection, I can confidently say that this partnership will have a huge positive impact on spreading awareness of overfishing – and the broader crisis in the oceans - and hopefully bringing around change in people’s perceptions towards our largest public resource, our oceans.
 

Time for an interview with the Ukrainian photographers Synchrodogs who made for us a "Spread Of The Week" story around our ribbons pieces. Tania and Roman, explain the meaning of their name as well as little stories about the influence of Ukraine in what they do. Enjoy.

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KENZINE: Where does your name Synchrodogs come from?
SYNCHRODOGS: We feel some animalistic spirit in us and rather canine, in our behavior in particular. That’s where the word “dogs” come from. At the same time we both are very alike in what we think is beautiful and what's ugly, our tastes and perceptions are “synchronized” to some extent. Those two elements put together are “Synchrodogs” and characterized us quite well.


K: Could you tell us about your background?
S: We both are Ukrainians, self-taught in photography and art. Graduating from technical universities, Tania was supposed to work in some library or archive, Roman should have done some robot automation. Luckily we were both introduced to photography by friends and it also strongly encouraged us to start!

 

K: How did you two meet and started working together?
S: As we are naturally from two different cities, 8 hours by train from each other, we are grateful that Internet made our meeting possible. In 2008 we both had accounts on some super old school photography website and started exchanging with each other. We were making photographs separately for a year before we met, so we were more or less at the same stage of 'ambitious beginners'.

 

K: Synchrodogs is a duo, who does what?
S: Both of us do everything. Firstly we develop ideas, then we try to make better ideas out of them. After that we create props and find locations where we can shoot. In between those we also talk about technics, like framing and composition. In our duo nobody is a model and we are both are photographers, though we often use ourselves to make a shot. For us it is often easier to play with our own body, rather than explaining our expectations to a model, so that the shots look as planned. But we mostly use this approach working on personal projects.

 

K: Do you also have solo projects? Or do you work with other people?
S: No, there is no art of Tania Shcheglova or Roman Noven, we do everything under the alias of Synchrodogs.

 

K: Is Ukraine a source of inspiration? Kenzo Takada was very influenced by slav cultures in the 80s. Is there a folkloric dimension in your work?
S: For us Ukraine is still a very tribal country, with all its primeval lifestyles mixed up with a slight post-soviet union feeling. People want to look fashionable but since they have no money and don’t read international fashion magazine they have to be inventive to take the most glamorous advantage of their small budget. This creates an absolutely unique background for us to live in, where every girl next door girl is wearing golden high heels just going to buy some bread in a shop. A clear example of this authentic fashion can be seen in our Misha Koptev project.

 

K: How would you explain the concept behind your Spread of the Week editorial?
S: The main concept for this shooting was to use sewing materials like bows, patches and fabrics, ribbons and brooches, to create those styles that would go in line with the KENZO Fall/Winter 2013 collection.

 

K: You put your models in abstract situations and poses. How would you define your relationship with the human body in general?
S: In our personal art projects the role of human is diminished, the person is something abstract, something that exists only in the context of nature, something that interact in the context of universe. In commercial shootings we prefer the model to remain less glamorous, more emotive, sometimes even awkward.

 

K: Where does your obsession for shooting nudes by frozen lakes or forests in winter come from?
S: We don’t have some exact obsession with forests, but it’s true that many of our personal projects are nature related, like the 'Animalism, Naturalism' series. We have to admit that we do love spending time outside the cities, with no people and no buildings around.

 

K: What would be your top 5 places in Ukraine to visit?
S: 1) Carpathian mountains with its snowy peaks.
2) Crimean Peninsula with its wild nature, sea and heaven garden in Yalta.
3) Lviv with its historical buildings and tiny streets.
4) Kiev with its capital status.
5) Luhansk with its deepest ukrainian ghetto.

Hans Feurer is a pillar of fashion photography. For fifty years, he's been travelling around the world, capturing the beauty of strong women in natural light. Yesterday in London, we organised a book signing with him for the launch of his first monograph "Exotic Eye" (Damiani). He accepted to answer a few questions about his work and fashion photography today.

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KENZINE: With the publication of your monograph “Exotic Eye”, images from early 1980s Kenzo campaigns are back out there. Can you tell us how your long-term collaboration with Kenzo Takada came about?
Hans Feurer: I was impressed with Kenzo Takada’s sensibility and “multi-ethnic” openness from his very first collection. The fact that he mixed African, Hindu, Japanese and Chinese features in his collection. That tolerance and generosity towards all world cultures. I was impressed with that right away, I loved his work from the start. I wanted to follow all his collections, all his shows. When Kenzo Takada asked me to do a campaign for his label, he gave me carte blanche. I don’t think there was any agency or team in charge of advertising at that time. He had no set concept in mind. Just a budget. So with the help of an amazing stylist named Françoise Havan, we decided to head someplace with a girl to experiment. From the start I wanted to do close ups (and Kenzo Takada gave me free reign there) of eyes and materials. So that was the direction we took. And we did it time and again, with wonderful models like Sayoko and Iman. It was ideal.
I’ve traveled a lot, I spent years in Africa, India and South America, and I always noticed how women, even in the fields, would be incredibly well dressed, much more feminine, with extraordinary colors everywhere. Today things have changed. Africans are trying to look like Europeans. Even Indians want to dress like Parisians.
In photography too, times have changed and it’s all very polished now. You rarely see ethnic features in magazine shoots or campaigns. The models all look the same. Their personality is erased. Or shall we say other personality types come through. But seeing people’s reactions to the publication of my book, I think there’s been a hugely enthusiastic response to using colors, so I think there’s a place for that kind of photography again.

K: You are often described as a pioneer of street styling. How do you feel today about street looks and the surge of fashion blogs?
H. F.: I’ve always tried to photograph women in real life, to give a sense of truth to street poses, so it’s true that I could be described as a street photography artist. But I don’t really have an opinion on those blogs, I don’t look at them. The virtual world is my enemy. I’m a big fan of the sensual, the human. I don’t have much interest in the digital or virtual world.

 

K: Why are you releasing this book now?
H. F.: I’d never released a book until now because I’ve always found that the majority of print books don’t do justice to the photos, and very few photos deserve to feature in a book. And then there were far too many books. But many of my shoots for Vogue and for English magazine Nova in the 1970s and 1980s had a flavor or particular idea, which went on to inspire many well-known photographers, and I wanted to show where and how some of these ideas came about.

 

K: Can you describe your work in a few words?
H. F.: I try to project dreams and desires. To show how a woman could look or wants to look.

 

K: What is your next destination?
H. F.: England for the signing in London, then Russia to do a shoot on the Olympics, and Kenya for a fishing vacation in between.

 

 

Portrait by Max Vadukul.

Photographs by Hans Feurer.

 

A couple of months ago, we asked Viktor Hachmang to develop some images and illustrate a whole alphabet for us: 26 words to define our brand called the Kenzopedia. He came back with an incredible diversity of designs. 

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KENZINE: You created the 26 letters of our alphabet in a very Kenzo style. What was your favorite letter to design?
Viktor Hachmang: I actually had a lot of fun with the letters D (for Delfina Delettrez) and J (for Jean-Paul Goude). Because these letters signified the works of other artists, I had to meet them halfway so to speak. This meant I had to delve a bit deeper into their bodies of work to find out things I could use in my own drawings, which I think was a lot of fun.


K: In general, what is your favorite letter and why?
V. H.: From a visual standpoint, my favorite letter has to be the Z. I think there's something very beautiful in the contrasting angles and the central diagonal.


K: Did you become an expert in crossword puzzle after staging so much the letters?
V. H.: It did feel like a puzzle for some letters. I wanted to obscure the main letterform as much as possible, so the viewer would find out at second glance that the letter is actually hidden inside the drawing. This did prove to be hard on some letters…


K: Is there an alphabet that inspires you particularly?
V. H.: I actually really like Takenobu Igarashi's typographic works and alphabets. He has his own very distinct technical, constructive and three-dimensional approach to letterforms, which I think is very beautiful. My G and the X drawings are tributes to Igarashi's works.


K: Do you prefer working on letters or numbers?
V. H.: I'm actually very bad at handling numbers (not really the maths type), so I'd have to say letters.


K: What anagram can we do with your name?
V. H.: I quite like 'Caving Hark Moth'.


K: What is your favorite wordplay?
V. H.: I like this palindrome: "A Toyota! Race fast... safe car: a Toyota".


K: What is your favorite word?
V. H.: Yes.


K: What is the most inspiring city?
V. H.: I actually really like walking around my hometown The Hague in The Netherlands. I ended up here by accident and grew to love the strange mix of architecture. There are some stunning art deco buildings, a few prime examples of New Objectivity architecture and some great post-modern icons.


K: What is the biggest influence on your work?
V. H.: Comics are a big source of inspiration – especially the work by French 'Clear Line' wizard Pierre Clement. I think his 'Les Souris' and 'Tralalajahal' series are very poetic and powerful. I also really like designers/illustrators Barney Bubbles, George Hardie and other artists from NTA Studios from the 1970s. I'm always in awe of the expert draftsmanship and the handling of patterns by artists of the Japanese ukiyo-e tradition.


K: What is your favorite font?
V. H.: I don't really have a favorite font, I always think a font should convey a message and it should complement the style of design or illustration. It's not just a question of aesthetics. But if I'd have to pick one, I think I'd have to go for Gill Sans. I like the fact that it's very recognizable, yet modest and understated, traditional and modern at the same time.


K: Your least favorite?
V. H.: I really hate fonts that are "the hip new thing". They seem to pop up simultaneously in every poster by third rate graphic designers trying to be cool and "on trend". At the moment it's those modernist sans serifs, with round lower case a's. I hate them even more when stretched vertically.


K: Do your nightmares involve bad designs and Comic sans MS?
V. H.: I actually don't really dislike Comic Sans, certainly not with a passion. Thankfully I don't have a lot of nightmares, but if I do I'm mostly haunted by things unrelated to graphic design.


K: And what do we see in your dreams?
V. H.: As I child I actually had a very strange recurring dream of a woman playing with baby blocks. If someone can tell me what this means, I'd love to hear it.

We met Charlie a month ago in Paris on one of the very last warm days of summer. A quick catch instantly very friendly and promising... One week after he was shooting the last "Spread of the week" section for us...

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KENZINE: You were born in the US, you studied Japanese and Korean in UK and you now split your time between Paris and New York City.  Do you feel like a citizen of the world?

Charlie Engman: I feel like a citizen of the airport security line! But without sounding so glib, what I really mean is: there are definitely still physical and cultural boundaries. I am actually very grateful that I live in a time when it's easy enough to move around as much as I do, but it's still not so easy that I take it for granted. I still feel like I have a home that I can return to.

 

K: Are Asian cultures a big source of influence for your work?

C. E.: I think Asian cultures are a big influence in my life in general. I developed close connections with Asia when I was quite young, but not so young that I didn't already have something to compare it to. It's very similar to the airport situation - I know where I'm from, but I'm not stuck there.

 

K: You did not study photography. How did you learn and what motivated you to become a photographer?

C. E.: I started taking pictures in university while I was studying Japanese and Korean. I was always doing my own little half-finished art projects, and the accessibility of photography was very attractive during my busy busy school years. I loved that you could push a button and instantly retain an idea. It was a rather irresponsible way to approach photography perhaps, but it's the gosh darn truth! But again, it's this same phenomenon: nowadays there is really a very low bar to entry to photography - we almost all have camera phones - and yet photography is elusive. It's approachable but still respects a lot of energy - there is something very compelling to me in this.

 

K: For you, what distinguishes fashion photography from other kinds of photography?

C. E.: I am very generous in this regard. I think any photographic imagery that contains a malleable material and some functional styling thereof can be considered as a fashion photograph. Essentially, everything. It's the context, of course. To me, if it's given the right treatment, a picture of a trash bag is totally a fashion picture - that's an obvious example even!

 

K: You’re mainly known as a fashion photographer, do you also show more personnal work as well?

C. E.: So for me, I don't draw so many distinctions. My work is all just a big fetish-fest of materials and gestures. I like to make things for and with other people, and I have had the great fortune of collaborating with a lot of fashion brands and magazines, and of course with collaboration comes compromise, so much of my work adheres to more traditional notions of fashion photography. Recently, I have returned to my personal practices a bit more, and I'm working on several of my own projects as well. Look out for them!

 

K: Who would be the fashion photographers you love or who would inspire you?

C. E.: I am partial to photographers whose photographs use fashion and not the other way around, if that makes any sense. People like Jason Evans and Roe Ethridge, and some younger photographers like Jamie Hawkesworth and Tyrone Lebon, for example.


K: You shot a story for us, what was the brief given to you and what is the concept behind those photographs?

C. E.: The brief was wonderfully free! The idea was to feature the criss-cross pieces and eye evil pattern pieces from the fall collection, and that was about as specific as the brief got. I gathered materials that had angular lines similar to the criss cross looks and that also could have a conceptual wink to idea of an eyeball print. Mirrors, TVs, glass plates… The rest I left up to the spontaneity of the shoot. I used Ataui Deng, who is overflowing with playfulness and positive energy, so we just had a lot of fun together. She has great skin and no hair, so it was a refreshingly personal shoot - no hair, no make up, no stylist, just me and her goofing around in my studio!


K: Models are really key in your work. Do you rather like a model with a big personality or a beautiful face and body?

C. E.: I can go both ways. Beauty aside, if someone has a really compelling face or body, I'm there no matter how boring he or she is. Like I said, I'm a material girl, I'm not a photojournalist. Still, it is a partnership, and it's important for the model to give something back to the camera. Most of what makes a compelling face or body is how its owner uses it.

 

K: Let's talk technical now, do you use the same equipment for most of your shoots or do you like to try and experiment as well?

C. E.: I am always experimenting with my imagery, of course, so whatever tools I need to create the image at hand, those are the tools I'm using. You can do a lot with a decent camera and one or two lights, but sometimes you need something else.


K: What is a perfect fashion image for you?

C. E.: A perfect fashion photograph is convincing. I better believe it!

 

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…

Last week, we published a story by KIRCHKNOPF + GRAMBOW on the KENZO x NEW ERA collaboration of the seasonToday is your chance to know more about this very creative young German studio.

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KENZINE: How would you describe your aesthetic?
KIRCHKNOPF + GRAMBOW: fact fucks fiction


K: What or who has influenced you over the years (photographer, music, tv, cinema, cities, etc.)?
K+G: Everything we see, do and experience is adding to our continuous live feed and may leave its impression. But for sure the more fundamental these influences break into your life the more you´ll probably have to deal with them.


K: What's the story of this girl samouraï who inspired you for the shoot?
K+G: To quote the "Hagakure", "The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong. (...) One should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. It is matter of being determined and having the spirit to break right through to the other side." And as the book continues "It is good to carry some powdered rouge in one´s sleeve. It may happen that when one is sobering up or waking from sleep, a samurai´s complexion may be poor. At such a time it is good to take out and apply some powdered rouge." It's never a bad thing to wear a good looking armor!


K: Can you talk about your model? There is something very rough, very tough about her.
K+G: We were running across Tamy and were immediatley taken by her contradictory qualities, appearing both heroic and sensitive, weak and strong. We love her yearning attitude and her ability to oscillate between assumed opposites.


K: Are you influenced a lot by Asian culture?
K+G: One night in Tokyo, we had this get together with the producer, the SFX suitmaker and the stuntman of the latest series of Godzilla movies which we adore. They revealed us this one fundamental truth about asian culture and the soul of godzilla, which we deeply soaked up that night together with a lot of warm sake.


K: Which pictorial references did you have in mind for this story?
K+G: In this case particularly, we’ve been thinking a lot about ancient japanese color woodcuts and lacquer painting masterpieces, japanese fetishism concerning patterns and texture and about immaculate surfaces, in a mechanical and digital sense likewise. And as the new era basecaps originally made their way via HipHop to us and we were listening to RZA´s Album Afro Samurai while shooting, there´s probably also a certain Hip Hop ingredient in it.


K: Why do you think the eye is such a recurrent symbol today?
K+G: Maybe because we human beings are based mainly on our visual perception. What we see is what we know, is what we trust. Ever since humankind seems to be tempted to have a all seeing, protecting and all knowing eye or prism.


K: KENZO is all about travelling, what is your favourite city and why?
K+G: We love Berlin for it being our homebase, Asian Istanbul for friends, Lahmacun and Raki, Saigon also for genious food, its moped racetracks, it´s vibrant haze and Sao Paulo for it´s sweat and sweet dirt.


K: Where would you like to travel if you could go anywhere now?
K+G: "2001"'s Star Gate or "Solaris". Besides, earth loses its photographic appeal by the minute. Until you guys at KENZO are designing a globe-sized basecap... But to be earnest: we don´t see that happening any time soon. Except the ghost of Buckminster Fuller swings in your office and drops a blueprint of the thing.


K: What are your projects for the upcoming season?
K+G: Until that happens we´ll take it with the words of Alphaville and get "Big In Japan".