Kenzo has undergone a massive creative overhaul thanks in part to Opening Ceremony founders Carol Lim and Humberto Leon taking the helm two years ago. Reviving the long-standing fashion, accessories, and beauty house with youthful energy and an insouciant sense of cool, the brand now sets the bar for mismatched prints and tailored assaults of color. Not only have they set shows to live music or on multiple floors of a 1960s university building, they continue to push the boundaries of marketing with spirited fashion videos. The latest, for Kenzo’s Resort 2013 collection, is directed by Mat Maitland and features the DIY animation of artist Natalia Stuyk, who is known for her own brand of boldly graphic interactive imagery. She very kindly opened up to us about jungle prints, green screen, and the process of animating a fashion video.
How did you get your start as an animator?
I initially wanted to be an illustrator. It wasn’t until a friend of mine approached me to make his band a music video that I even considered animation. I went to Edinburgh College of Art to study Visual Communication and didn’t really pursue videos until about a year and a half ago, but now I can’t really imagine doing anything else—it’s such an endlessly exciting medium to work in.
How did you get involved with doing the animation for Kenzo?
Mat Maitland, the art director who was commissioned for the Kenzo video, got in touch with me after he saw my video for Roses Gabor. Since I used a lot of the green screen and compositing techniques he had been looking for, we met to chat about the project and the technical side of things and everything just seemed to fall comfortably into place. His work is so bold and visually stunning it was a breath of fresh air from the usual lo-fi projects I work on. I’d been wanting to work with the fashion industry for a while as I’ve always looked at fashion videos as a pool of inspiration. There’s an elegance about them you don’t really get in music videos.
What goes into animating a fashion video?
Going from working on music videos to working with such a massive fashion brand, there’s naturally a whole range of different guidelines and limitations in place. Mat already had a concrete idea of what he wanted to achieve but we went though a few iterations of the video before getting the pace and aesthetic right. Kenzo is such a strong brand and now that Carol and Humberto are Creative Directors they’re going through a pretty exciting transition, so it was important to adhere to that and do it justice. We aimed to honour that visually.
Did you have strict image parameters from Kenzo or a certain amount of freedom in choosing imagery?
In terms of the imagery we used, Mat’s illustrations already encompassed a lot of the themes associated with Kenzo, their clothes and prints fit seamlessly with his collages so the creative process felt quite organic. The team we worked with on the shoot, and Smith & Read who directed it, all helped a great deal in ensuring we had enough good footage to bring Mat’s illustrations to life. Mat described it as “the story as though dreamt by a wild cat—lucid snap shots of a neon jungle world that only make sense in a dream,” which is pretty spot on.
The collection has an intense jungle inspiration…
The jungle inspiration of the collection became the central theme for the development of the video. With so many exotic prints and mesmerizing color, it was only natural to expand that into a surreal extension of Mat’s illustrations that this otherworldly model could explore and interact with. I’d looked through Kenzo’s other fashion films, namely Quentin Jones’ work, but definitely wanted to try something a bit different to keep with Mat’s distinctive style. The animals were a visual response to Kenzo’s prints and a natural progression from the ‘Electric Jungle’ theme.
What can we look forward to next in regards to your own work?
I’m working on another project with Mat that’s in development and there are a few music videos at treatment stage. I’m also working towards more graphic and print-based work to give me some breathing space between the intensity of being immersed in videos all the time.