TêTE à TêTE: RAPHAEL GIANELLI MERIANO

Raphaël has been following the KENZO shows, camera in tow, for two months now. He directed a short documentary "Above the sky and beyond", in January, following the mens collection Fall/Winter 2013 through the clouds of London, Paris, Milan and Florence.

This time, he changed the formal appearance of the making of and showed us what no one saw during the last show: the hidden Samaritaine, in the mysterious video Humberto and Carol at la Samaritaine. He explains us how...

 

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What is the concept of the video?
La Samaritaine is a magnificent location and as I rediscovered it, I wanted to present a different perspective from what the visitor discovers for the first time as they walk in: a reverse angle shot from the bottom of the atrium. A bird’s eye view. I wanted to keep continuity with the portraits of Humberto and Carol done in January for the collection Homme but I wanted to capture something other than a portrait. A little like the extension of a dream. It’s like traveling in a place that could be an inspirational meeting point of Humberto and Carol. La Samaritaine is the place where Humberto and Carol, the KENZO collection and the public all come together.


How did it come about?
When KENZO asked me to make a video in the legendary La Samaritaine for the collection, I went to the location and it immediately reminded me of a visual effect used in the pop-up books by Robert Sabuda: the rabbit hole in "Alice in Wonderland". What I always loved in this vision of Alice is the way the reader is positioned above the pop-up rabbit hole and is the one who triggers the effect. Applying this to La Samaritaine put the central viewpoint above the atrium.


Did you remember La Samaritaine when it was open?
I had very few memories of La Samaritaine. I had gone a few times when it was still open but I wasn’t very interested in department stores at the time. It is only very recently that I saw the interior and the terrace again, filmed by Leos Carax for his "Holy Motors". I can say that I really discovered this amazing place on my first visit for the KENZO video.

 

Since the opening of the season, you have been filming during the fashion shows. What is your perception of the KENZO brand?
When you film the peripheral aspects of the collections, and not the clothes themselves, the trick is to find a path, a way that leads into the collection and to the designers through the video. I like to work with what is real, in the sense of what is actually there when I do the shoot. That is why we follow Humberto in the first video; he is the one who leads us to the collection. That put us at the heart of the process that was developing the fashion show.
For this video I wanted to maintain a certain distance, which the venue made possible. I didn’t want to show the collection until almost the very end. At the same time, I wanted to stay in touch with the designers, so this is where the idea of the interview at the beginning came from. Then the camera and the location lead us to the fashion show. This process enabled me to discover the Kenzo brand for myself, like visiting the new territory. I took a path and on a detour, I discovered what I have filmed through Humberto and Carol, their interviews, the way they work, the collection itself and the KENZO brand. For me, KENZO is a journey in space but above all in time: this mix between Humberto’s and Carol’s visions and a brand that has existed for several decades.


You often have an almost intimate access to designers during these film shoots. How would you describe Carol and Humberto?
Humberto and Carol were always very available to take part in the filming of the two videos. Always ready to try something else, they are very open to new ideas. They trusted me when I shadowed them last December and January. I am not a journalist, so I film what speaks to me, I don’t try to push the limits of intimacy and I think that in the context of our collaboration, this is a decisive factor for our mutual trust. I would add that they care about everything, no matter how small, and as a result, they make everything easy.

 

How do you think they have developed the brand over the last three seasons?
What I like about Kenzo is this mix between revisiting the classics and the early days of the brand and this is filtered by Humberto and Carol, who are in the avant-garde of what is happening in fashion today. It is a process that every designer is confronted with. This certainly is an approach that has brought KENZO closer to us.

 

www.raphaelgianellimeriano.com