Kenzo creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are making both fashion videos and the fashion calendar work for them.
On Friday night, Day 2 of New York Fashion Week, Leon and Lim debuted their sixth campaign film for the brand, titled “The Everything,” with three back-to-back screenings — the first, a press conference that concluded with a panel featuring the cast, including Milla Jovovich and “Insecure” actor Jay Ellis.
Since fall 2017, they’ve shown their women’s collection on the menswear runway — in Paris, in January and June. While most designers are updating their schedules to show collections closer to the time the clothes hit stores, Leon and Lim debut their women’s collections even earlier than recommended by the official CFDA fashion calendar: NYFW Spring 2019 is in swing, Kenzo showed women’s spring 2019 in June. But they have carved out a see-now-buy-now moment, debuting films tied to seasonal collections at screening parties during New York Fashion Week. The featured styles are from current collections, immediately available for purchase.
The “fashion film” strategy has been widely criticized for the discrepancy between the cost to produce them (reportedly $500,000 to $1 million) and the lack of return by way of views and sales. That could play into why Leon doesn’t consider “The Everything” a fashion film.
“In [fashion films] that have been done, we always ask, ‘Why is there so little narrative?’” he said during the press conference. “They’re usually beautiful and cool — maybe someone’s dancing — but the story is very vague, imaginative. Here, the story comes first, and the clothes are really secondary. It does blur lines.”
It’s also a 25-minute minute film, while fashion brands usually keep them brief — three minutes, six minutes tops. “I’m all about breaking the rules,” he said, following the conference.
It’s served him well. According to LVMH’s earnings report for 2017, which showed a revenue increase of 13 percent in year-over-year (the conglomerate does not break out sales numbers for individual brands), Kenzo was among fashion brands that “made good progress.”
The film marks the writing and directorial debut of Leon, who said it was shot over three-and-a-half days.
Leon said he’d been concepting the story — centered on a very large family, each member of which has a “silly” superpower — for a good ten years before deciding to run with it. “I wanted it to be a family or teen movie, “ he said. “High school is such a coming-of-age period, and I wanted this family drama to come into play.”
Trailers were released on Kenzo’s Instagram and YouTube prior to Friday’s premiere, and kenzo.com launched a landing page where people could enter their email address to see the film several hours before the debut. Leon said Kenzo is updating its rollout of the video this season — most notably, there will be street ads with sound in select areas.
It will also be translated for social media, the Kenzo website, in-store video and even product. The featured fall 2018 looks are easily shoppable through a section on the site labeled “The Everything Capsule.”
“Kenzo’s the first client we ever worked with this way, across a content and a communications relationship,” said Brian Phillips, president and creative director of Framework and Black Frame, which worked with Leon and Lim. “But knowing the genesis and the backstory of content, and having those relationships, it means we can deliver better results when it’s time to communicate.”