Tête à Tête - Kenzine, the Kenzo official blog

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Mathilde Agius is a young photographer based in Zürich. She shot our Monster editorial story. We got a close-up snapshot of her and discussed 'Where the wild things are', the ECAL school of photography and coconut sambol...

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KENZINE: Could you introduce yourself and say a few words about your style?
Mathilde Agius: My name is Mathilde and I am 26 years old. My style is a bit “coucou”.


 
K: Did some artists in particular influence your work?
M. A.: I got my first photography book when I was 12. It was a horizontal format monograph by Swiss artist Urs Lüthi, published in 1978. On its cover, there are two polaroids, one of a globe and the other one of the topless artist blowing a bubble with gum. I think that Lüthi’s tone and humor made a lasting impression on me, and that the question of how to make something beautiful, sensitive and funny at the same time is central in my work.


 
K: You just made a series of photographs around the MONSTER print for KENZO blog, can you tell us a bit more about it?
M. A.: The idea behind the series was to tackle the mechanical and fragmented aspect of the MONSTER print, with repetitions, errors and twists in the rhythms. I tried to create a character that was at the same time sensual and strict, allowing these two aspects of the KENZO woman to relate.


 
K: You know that the 2014 Fall/Winter collection was inspired by David Lynch’s works. Are you, like Carol and Humberto, a Twin Peaks or Mulholland Drive fan? Did his movies influence your work?
M. A.:  Isabella Rosselini is absolutely stunning in Blue Velvet. I admire the way David Lynch depicts female characters: their complexity, their weaknesses, their strength, and of course their madness.    


 
K: If I mention the word “monster”, what does it evoke for you? A particular creature? A fear? A specific anxiety?
M. A.: I instinctively think about the protagonists of a book I loved when I was a kid, 'Where the Wild Things Are', by Maurice Sendak. It is the story of a boy who dresses up as a wolf to cause mischief, before being punished and sent to his room where he meets other monsters.  

 

K: How would you define the strangeness that characterizes KENZO today?
M. A.: Electric, fluorescent, like a broken neon whose light flickers.


 
K: How did you express this idea in your series?
M. A.: The superimpositions of images are like a form of flickering.

 

K: You chose to work with Marie and Masha, who are very different. How would define the KENZO woman and what could bring these two personalities together?
M. A.: The KENZO woman is determined and rigorous, while being sensual. She’s also a bit fierce. Masha and Marie each possess these qualities in their own way.

 

K: What is your favorite item of the Fall/Winter collection?
M. A.: This sleeveless vest with zips because of its hypnoti-zip power.

K: It seems that the photographers that went to ECAL are apart from other photographers nowadays. In your opinion, what is it that you learn at ECAL that afterwards sets you apart from the photographers that went to school in France or England for example?

M. A.: ECAL has the means to invite a very interesting range of experts from different fields while being affordable to everyone. The technical infrastructure of the school is also exceptional.



K: Like you, a lot of young photographers want to go back to film-based photography. What does it add to your work?
M. A.: In my view, the film format, or more exactly the chemistry it contains characterizes photography. The magic process of light materializing on a physical medium fascinates me. It is a great surprise every time I discover my negatives.



K: Give me 5 places that one should absolutely go and see in Switzerland?
M. A.: There are a lot of magic places in Switzerland. Just to mention two of them, I would name my hometown Geneva where the sky always seems different and dramatic because of its geographic location. And the area between Vevey and Montreux from where you can see the reflection of the Alps in the Léman lake.
 

 
K: The song that would best illustrate your series?
M.A.: Makigami Koichi - Egoe


K: A color?
M.A.: A dark turquoise very close to blue and whose exact hue could not really be defined


K: A smell?
M.A.: A mixture of coriander and hairspray


K: A feeling?
M.A.: The surprise when you dip your feet into the cold seawater.


K: A dish?
M.A.: A coconut sambol.
 

Discover some of Mathilde Agius' images below and for more information visit her website.

Novembre Magazine Spring/Summer 2014.

 
Novembre Magazine Spring/Summer 2014.

Dorade Magazine in collaboration with Reto Schmid.

Original Design and styling Ugo Pecoraio.

John Armleder for Kaleidoscope Spring/Summer 2014.

Fatima Al Qadiri is an artist, musician and composer working in New York. She composed the soundtrack for our Men's Fall/Winter 2014 show and her track Szechuan, from her album Asiatisch, is the sound heard on our FALL 2014 experience. KENZINE had the pleasure of chatting to her about Asiatisch and her collaborations with KENZO.

 

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KENZINE: Besides your solo career under your own name you have many different projects, including AYSHAY and collaborations with Visionist; lately, you started Future Brown with J-Cush and Nguzunguzu, who also created a soundtrack for KENZO in 2012. Do you find that constant dialogue and collaboration with other artists is important to evolving your music?

FATIMA AL QADIRI: Collaborations occur naturally, I don't overthink the process. Although Future Brown in particular is an evolution because of the number of artists involved in the project.  


K: Can you tell us about how you approached the mix for the KENZO men’s Fall/Winter 2014 show, composed with some of your music from your album Desert Strike?

F.A.Q.: It was a conversation with Carol and Humberto in person that decided which tracks were used. Really swift and to the point - my favorite kind of approach. 


K: The KENZO Fall/Winter collections draw on the mystery of the Pacific-Northwest states of the U.S.: Lynch’s Twin Peaks, the distorted light you find there and things not being what they seem. Is that a part of the country you are familiar with?

F.A.Q.: The only part of the West Coast I've been to is L.A. But Twin Peaks is a global cult favorite so it's an ongoing reference for artists.

 

K: Your song Szechuan from your latest album Asiatisch is the soundtrack to the KENZO Fall 2014 3D video experience. Carol and Humberto’s latest Sprint/Summer 2015 collection for KENZO take an outsider’s view of Parisian culture; would you the say the same about your view on China for Asiatisch? Where did you find the references for your imagined China, and how did the album start?

F.A.Q.: Yes, I would say it's an outsider's view of China, but maybe add that it's a colonial and post-colonial mutant. My references are everything the Western media has fed me about China, plus its historic fungus. The album started by accident when I didn't follow exact instructions given to me by the artists Shanzai Biennial on a nonsense-Mandarin acapella of Nothing Compares 2 U. 


K: At KENZO, a worldly curiosity influences every part of what we do. Your music seamlessly captures that same curiosity. I imagine you travel a lot but do you find that the internet can be the ultimate portal to other cultures?

F.A.Q.: The internet is an immediate portal to other cultures without the sensual
aspect, the juiciest part.

 

K: The city that most inspires you?

F.A.Q.: New York.

 

K: Describe yourself in a sentence.

F.A.Q.: Operating on predictive patterns.   

 

K: What was the last thing you saw, heard, felt or saw that moved you?

F.A.Q.: Going to Dia Beacon. It has the combination atmosphere of spa and crematorium. A holistic horror.

Julien Ceccaldi is the French-Canadian illustrator and graphic novelist who created the signs of the KENZODIAC. KENZINE catches up with him to hear more about his work and for travel tips from Montréal.

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KENZINE : What is your star sign, and how does it define you ?

Julien Ceccaldi : Like Conchita Wurst and Charles Manson, I have the sun in Scorpio with Taurus rising (two polar opposites). This combination makes for satanic power, moral endurance and a whole load of self-love.

 

K : Which sign did you enjoy drawing the most ?

J.C.I had a laugh drawing Leo’s hand: it’s talon-like, but it also takes inspiration from Lady Gaga’s Monster Claw, the symbol of her fandom. I am also quite proud of how the water turned out in the logo, and the Pisces and Aquarius signs.


K : Do you find that the style of Manga suits the KENZO woman somehow ?

J.C. : KENZO as a brand reflects a pop mentality that you find in Manga. For instance, the Hokusai wave influences in the Spring/Summer 2014 collection made me think of a short story by Shôhei Kusonoki. It’s an interior monologue coming from a vase abandoned in a stream, and the water runs at different paces, in all directions across the page.


K : Where do your inspirations come from and is there a continual idea you try to project through your work?

J.C. : For my comic strips, I take snippets of conversations from here and there - in a café or in Youtube videos for example – all situations in which one hopes to be in control of the image they're projecting. Everyone struggles trying to best represent themselves, and  it's even more of a challenge to have others accept this image.


K : At KENZO, travel informs everything we do. What are your favourite destinations around the world?

J.C. : Everything becomes clear in my head each time my private jet lands in Los Angeles. I love Biarritz, especially in the winter. I never realized how much I loved the beach until this summer, but then let’s remember that Scorpio is a water sign...

 

K : You live in Montreal, can you recommend some places to visit?

J.C. : The Drawn & Quarterly bookstore (211 Bernard Ouest) has to be at the top of my list. There you can find the great graphic novels from the publishing house of the same name, but that's far from it all. Just across the street there is La Lumière du Mile-End, a tiny little vegan restaurant. I am a major glutton when it comes to the pastries from a bakery called Maestro, just a five minute walk down the street. Once the sun goes down, I try to be wherever DJ Babi Audi is playing.

 

K : For Autumn/Winter 2014, the ouevre and femme fatales of David Lynch were amongst the core inspirations. Who are your artistic heroines?

J.C. : In the graphic novel Brother, Dear Brother (by Ryoko Ikeda) and in the animated series of the same name, the character Fukiko-sama is the Queen Bee of her school. She is elegant, haughty, frosty and authoritative, but under her mask of pride she mourns a childhood love that lasted but a week. The boy in question was her older brother’s friend, who read her a Shakesperean sonnet he was studying for school. She says to have experienced a lifetime's worth of love in one summer. I am also fascinated by Catherine Breillat’s heroines, who often live by the same “all or nothing” creed, except they don’t impose such paralyzing self-restraint on themselves. On the contrary, their grace comes from the way they reject the idea that love and bodies are quantifiable.


K : Which KENZO icon are you most drawn to, the Tiger, the Eye or the Fish ?

J.C. :I would have to say the Eye, because like any other fan of Manga I have filled pages and pages of eyes – not faces, not even noses, but just the eyes – enormous and filled with reflections.
 

The KENZO Fall/Winter 2014 campaign by Toiletpaper is being revealed this week! Kenzine interviewed Maurizio Cattelan, Pierpaolo Ferrari and Micol Talso about the latest campaign and what the shoot was like. 

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Kenzine: In this campaign, there's a lot of breaking and entering going on; an interesting dynamic of covetousness, you could say. What can you offer on that?
Toiletpaper: Best things always come when you really go out to get them, it's the basic rule for success...and of course, entering where you haven't been invited is far more interesting!

 

Kenzine: What was your favorite prop from the set?
Toiletpaper: The 24 carats diamond!

 

Kenzine: Which elements of this KENZO collection really lit your fire?
Toiletpaper: The acid yellows and greens, and there's something creepy but attractive about the new prints on the sweaters...we can't help thinking that they could be used for a reworking of the film Psycho.

Kenzine: What music did you play on the set, and more importantly, who gets to choose?

Toiletpaper: As long as it synchs with the flash, any music could work and any dj has the right to play in the studio!

 

Kenzine: What was the last thing that you saw, read, heard or felt that moved you?
ToiletpaperHal 9000 singing, while slowing down: "Dai-sy, dai-sy, give me your answer true. I'm half cra-zy, o-ver the love of you. It won't be a sty-lish mar-riage, I can't a-fford a car-riage. But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle - built - for - two". Totally tear-jerking.

 

Kenzine: Now let’s play a game of word association. Write down the first thing that comes into you heard when you think of each word below.

Toiletpaper:

Leg - Banana
Neon - Violet
Paris - Bed
Routine - Sleep work pray dance
Hashtag - Next
Twilight - Blur
Eye brow - Sandwich
Feast - Hat
Forest - Peace
Forever - Love
KENZO - Forever

 

 

The KENZO campaign will be weird, unexpected and revealed in full on Friday, In the meantime, you can watch the teaser video here, and we will be posting a series of exclusive Toiletpaper GIFs all through the week! Don't hesitate to join us in sharing and posting the GIFs everywhere!

KENZO had the pleasure of collaborating with Seattle-based Hip Hop collective Shabazz Palaces on our Spring/Summer 2014 mood video, directed by Kahlil Joseph. We caught up with the legend that is Ishmael Butler, who leads the group, to muse on California, Kahlil and making music.    

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KENZINE: Can you tell us a bit about Shabazz Palaces and your collaborators in the group?

Ishmael Butler: Shabazz collaborators are the black constellationaires themselves; Fly Guy Dai, Cat and Stas, Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Nep Sidhu, OCNotes, Blood, Thadillac, Kahlil and so forth and so on. We further along the spaceways; we come in the name of WE, flossing game and jewelry, untamed and poised.


K: You have worked with Kahlil Joseph before, on your video for 'Black Up'. Tell us about your creative relationship.
I.B.: Kahlil is like Lester Young or Charlie Parker; his improvisations destined to become new rules, he asks himself unanswerable questions. He goes about explaining things 500 ways at once. Like a relentless basketball player, he is looking constantly for an opening - a lane, a back door cut to the alley hoop. The ball is an idea; the rim a portal to infinity. He is on offense forever. Winking knowingly at beauty; confirming their understanding of one another.


K: You were signed to Seattle-based SubPop records, and are now doing A&R for them yourself. How are you finding that?
I.B.: We are a music cult bent on world domination: our principals are music, donuts weed and humping. My initiation was tedious and temporally brutal (19 hours) but when I awoke in my cubicle, forest animals with human faces smiled from an orange sky upon me and I received a Mudhoney  t-shirt.  Oh and my pants were unzipped.

 

K: California is the home state of KENZO creative directors Carol and Humberto, and served as the umbrella influence for the KENZO Spring/Summer 2014 collections: a paradoxical place where huge sprawling cities are fenced in by mountains, ancient forests and the ocean. Which elements of California fascinate you most?
I.B.: The sun. Its seductive and rejuvenative power.  The blanket of light and warmth it lays across peoples’ psychology.  Its endless autocades and the daily ritual of burning smog.  The coastline and the vast ocean lapping at its edges.  The women.

 

K: Have you ever visited Paris? What did you think?
I.B.: I think I have lived in Paris in some life. I am comfortable there and familiar and when I arrive in the city, a former self is awakened so I cannot remain inside.

 

K: What was the last thing you saw, heard, felt or saw that moved you?
I.B.: My daughter over the phone say "hey dad".
 

The outdoor concerts proposed by the Stage of the Art collective during the festival of Hyères were among the highlights of the weekend. Once back in Paris, KENZINE caught up with founder and director Laurence Alvart to reflect on Stage of the Art's contribution for the 2014 festival. 

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Photo by Filep Motwary.

 

Kenzine: Could you describe in your own words what Stage of the Art is all about ?


Laurence Alvart: Stage of the Art is a creative company dedicated to musical curation, and what we do is build synergies between music and other domains such as fashion, contemporary art, and cinema. 


K: How did the collaboration between Stage of the Art and the Hyères festival start?


L.A.: We have always enjoyed following the progress of the festival at Hyères. Our collaboration started for the 2011 edition, following a delightful meeting with Jean-Pierre Blanc, the founder and director of the festival.  Our aim is to bring a little extra something to the festival experience, to provide a sort of musical break between talks, meetings, jury deliberations or fashion shows. We at Stage of the Art are driven by the same passion that is at the heart of the festival at Hyères: we love heading out to discover young talents to nurture and to showcase.

Above: Jaako Eino Kalevi wears the KENZO waves trench; portrait by Giasco Bertoli.

 

K: Chlöe Howl, Jakko Eino Kalevi and C.A.R. were the artists invited at the festival of Hyères this year. How did you choose them?

 

L.A.: We choose our artists by following our intuition; it’s really about the right feeling.  We try to unearth emerging talent who we feel are just on the cusp of greatness, working with our partners Red Bull Studios Paris. In the past three years, we are really proud to have presented Connan Mockassin; The Shoes with a surprise appearance by Woodkid – a total unknown at that time!; The Citizens; Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs; Eugene McGuinness, and Perez, whom we discovered in 2012 and now has his own creative residency at the Villa Noailles.  We also try to pick artists that the people attending the festival will love and who we believe will bring some magic to the fabulous environment of the Villa Noailles and its gardens. That was exactly what happened this year with our three artists, whom we are very proud of. Chloé Howl illuminated the opening of the festival on the Friday night, Jaako Eino Kalevi gave a magnificent performance in the sun-drenched hanging garden and C.A.R. bewitched the audience on the final evening.


K: The Hyères festival provides a moment of relief for people who work in the creative industries, when they can meet, exchange and converse in a different environment. Would you agree?

 

L.A.: Yes I would, it’s a place where it’s much easier to meet and to talk to people whom you might never dream of getting hold of in Paris. It’s also an event where the focus is on young talent – the competing designers and photographers- and that offers a different, refreshing kind of perspective.  It is this spirit of discovery that makes the festival such a success and it is why so many people like to come back year after year. Everybody is relaxed and open, which offers a lot of opportunity. On a personal level, while we spend a lot of the time preparing the concerts, the festival still brings us new ideas, new projects and new people.
 

Left: C.A.R. at the Villa Noailles by Filep Motwary.

 

K: Did you have the opportunity to see the collections of the designers competing for the Grand Prix?

 

L.A.: Yes, and we fostered our own favourites; our creative crushes were for Yulia Yefimtchuk and Coralie Mirabelle. And the laureate (Kenta Matsushige) was exceptionally talented! Every year we are so impressed by the talent and their work, which is always incredibly accomplished and professional. There were really beautiful collections this year…

 

K: What did you enjoy the most during the 2014 edition of the festival at Hyères ?

 

L.A.: I absolutely loved Marc Turlan’s ephemeral exhibition of new works, and of course the KENZO FOREVER, NO? exhibition. I adored the music: the three concerts were very moving for us, and each was very different. We would like to thank KENZO for dressing our beautiful Finish artist Jaakko and his band.


 

Above: Jean-Pierre Blanc, wearing KENZO, enjoys a concert in the hanging garden of the Villa Noailles. Photo by Filep Motwary.

 

K: What is the latest thing you have seen, heard, read or felt that inspired or stimulated you ?


L.A.: At Stage of the Art we are fortunate to be inspired daily, but here are our recent favourites:


 - The latest album from Damon Albarn, an artist who has always known how to reinvent himself and be absolutely of the moment. His collaborations and projects are always inspiring to us!


 - Christopher Wool’s exhibition at the Guggenheim in New York.


 - Marc Turlan’s recent works, which were previewed during the 29th International Festival of fashion and photography at Hyères.


 - CERVICHE restaurant in London (thanks to Guillaume S. for the recommendation!), and the generally refreshing creative ambiance that one can enjoy in London or New York.

During the festival of Hyères, KENZINE hung out with KENZO collaborator Charlie Engman in the Naples-yellow stairwell of the Villa Noailles, where he had just put the finishing touches to his exhibition, La Romaine.

 

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KENZINE: Jean-Pierre Blanc invited you to create a photo series in the recently abandoned Villa Romaine, in Hyères. Tell us about your first thoughts on the project.


Charlie Engman: This work occupies a rather different space from my other work. I don’t normally work this way where the project has a very specific narrative and historical aspect, but I was intrigued. When I was invited by the festival to come and check out La Romaine they really gave me carte blanche, saying “you have this house, you can do anything you want even if it’s just using a tiny corner”. I had no obligation to present the house. But it was just so loud, there was so much going on, even without all the furniture and trappings, and so it inevitably became part of the narrative process.  


K: La Romaine is an enormous mansion on the hill above Hyères, just like the Villa Noailles. Tell us about your impressions of it?


C.H.: La Romaine was built by an individual who had the intention of erecting the modern Versailles. He precised in his will that is was donated to a charitable foundation who then in turn sold everything they could sell, leaving the shell of the house in a strange state, which is how I found it. All my models are local people from Hyères. There is this very opulent atmosphere within the house, but it has a very outdated quality about it. I suppose the presentation of the fruit in my photographs suggests that too. For me La Romaine was a baroque failure, and there was a reference for me there. I also got the impression that it had been a very weird gay bachelor pad; it has some very sensual Greek motifs – there is an uncomfortable, forced homosexuality about it.

K: What kind of energy is there in La Romaine?


C.H.: I have a very ambivalent relationship with La Romaine. I have to admit I personally found it quite disgusting, and that has positive and negative outcomes for me as a photographer because of course disgusting can be quite exciting. I found the fact that it had been stripped by the foundation, and the fact that the owner had deigned to gift it to the foundation in the first place both quite disturbing. The building itself was in a really bad way; there was mold everywhere and it was really hard to breath in the basement for instance. No one is taking care of this place. It’s unheimlich.


K: Your exhibition is on display at Villa Noailles in this very long and narrow yellow-painted stairwell leading up to the hanging garden. Did the exhibition space inform the way you approached this project?


C.H.:  When I approach a show, I usually take quite a formalist approach to the installation. I wouldn't say the exhibition space informed much of the work itself, but when it came to mounting the work, of course the stair's inevitable progression of up and down and the closeness of the left and right walls (and their stucco texture and strange yellow color!) had a huge impact on the mounting of the work. It's very physical and intimate. So I would stand on the step and feel it out: ‘this should actually be printed much smaller, this bigger…this needs to be framed, and this needs some bling… (pointing to a gold chandelier earring attached to a photo). Actually these were left over in my props bucket from the shoot. I thought they went very well with the motif on this door here…(pointing to an image of a door with gold moulding).

 

K: Are props something you bring from your fashion photography?


C.E.: I don’t have a relationship to photography-as-documentary, because I think that comes with a lot of baggage. Of course you have to deal with reality; it’s an essential component that has to be confronted. For me play is an important thing, and so is engaging the camera as an active participant in the photograph. I am much more interested in directly putting my hand into the image rather than capturing a ‘pure’, unadulterated moment at a distance. So perhaps the bag of props on hand is a good metaphor for my work.

K: What do you like most about the Hyères festival?


C.E.: To me it’s the energy.  There’s so much generosity and excitement. Often with these things you hear “carte blanche…” but that offer is always tempered with issues of ego, and of political economics. Here, I was really trusted and given total respect and freedom. The Villa Noailles is just bursting with positivity. There is no ‘no’. Every kind of thought I had was given a consideration. I think how Jean-Pierre Blanc has built up the festival is incredible: the way he has engaged people coming into his orbit, latching onto people who are really trying to communicate something. The generosity and conviction is overwhelming.
 

KENZINE interviewed Carol and Humberto at the Hyères festival on the eve of the launch of the exhibition: KENZO FOREVER, NO?

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KENZINE: Humberto, Carol, you are presidents of this year’s fashion jury for the Grand Prix of Hyères. What does that mean to you?

 

Humberto: It’s really exciting, we are here not only representing KENZO but also Opening Ceremony, and it is so exciting to be part of this process: meeting not only all these young designers but young photographers, and being able to have one-on-one interactions with them.

Carol: Being able to hear the stories of these young designers as they present their collections is special, because it is a completely different feeling than discovering a collection by looking through a lookbook or seeing a few isolated pieces.


K: What are you most looking forward to over this weekend in Hyères?


C: So much! We were shown all ten collections by the designers today, being able to work with our jury who we selected is also very exciting, and seeing all the other aspects of the festival like the photography competition and the exhibitions, and of course the opportunity to meet all the people who travel from all over the world to be here.
H: It’s our first time here, along with all our jury members, and we are really enjoying being part of this festival tradition – the Hyères festival that Jean-Pierre Blanc has established over the past 29 years.


K: What advice do you have to give the ten finalists, as well as any other designers out there?


H: I would encourage any young designer to think about the full picture. The design process and the preparation for presenting a collection are incredibly exciting, but they should also consider what is going to happen after that; whether it be pursuing a commercial endeavor, or whether they want to  look for a job within another house.
C: I would also advise them to stay informed. There is so much happening around the world, it is important that your story is unique to you. Curiosity really helps you to do that.


K: The jury you have gathered around you is incredibly diverse in terms of their fields of expertise. Is this how you see fashion design, as existing within a broader cultural dialogue?


H: We decided to bring quite an eclectic group to the judging table because we feel that the most interesting thing about fashion is the conversation, it’s about the community we have built around us, and we definitely don’t think that good critique has to come from an exclusively ‘fashion’ perspective. From arts, music, travel, films…there is no limit to the things or the people that inspire us and to be frank, everything we work on is a personal conversation with each other or with somebody we’re working with.


K: Tell us about the KENZO FOREVER, NO? exhibition. Here we can see pairs of archive looks set up opposite looks from your own collections on rotating platforms. From cloud and fish prints, to ribbon work and colour-blocking, these are house codes that were established by Kenzo Takada – are they very important for you?


H: Yes, They are. When Carol and I came to KENZO, we interpreted the house in our own way. We felt that Kenzo made a difference to the world, and this exhibition is really about showing the some of the fundamental elements of the KENZO brand and reflecting them with what they mean to us and to KENZO today.
C: Seeing the two side-by side, it’s also amazing to see how innovative and revolutionary Kenzo Takada was for his time when he was working in the ‘70s and ‘80s. More than anything, setting up the binaries the way we have here is not for the purpose of looking back, but to reinforce the D.N.A. of the house and show how we are constantly looking forward.
H: Innovation and technology is really important in our process. I am always focused on the future and what the future means, and that’s how we are going to take KENZO forward.


KENZO FOREVER, NO? will be open to the public at the Villa Noailles, Hyères until the 29th May.


Villa Noailles
Montée de Noailles
83400 Hyères

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!

 

Discover Toni's work bellow :

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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.