If you see me in real life, you would know that I’m not a fashion plate. I wear clothes that are 10 seasons behind and are available at Kmart and Old Navy. The only high-fashion things I own are two Coach handbags and a Ralph Lauren hand towel, all from retail outlets. I leave the beauty advice to talented Gia Mazur and her Hey Beautiful blog, and I stay in my cinematic lane.
However, when movies, beauty and fashion collide, I begin to fangirl immediately. This is coming from a huge fan of MTV’s “House of Style,” VH-1’s “FashionTelevision” and CNN’s “Style with Elsa Klensch” in the 1990s. I could identify Versace from Dolce & Gabbana, Prada from Calvin Klein, and Anna Sui from Betsey Johnson. Could I afford the fashions? No, I could barely afford the cable bill that brought these names to my television set. But as the 1980s and ‘90s brought in the supermodel era with Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Tyra Banks, movie stars were becoming covergirls on Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The 2000s brought in the triple threat — you had to sing, act and model.
The fashion industry followed suit, creating short films for their collections and magazines making personalities more accessible. In the era of the Instagram model and YouTube discoveries, both are catching up, letting fashion and labels star in music videos, movies and interviews. This is not much different from Hollywood’s golden age of the 1950s and ‘60s, when models like Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, Eartha Kitt and Jayne Mansfield graced the silver screen. These days, it’s Cara Delevingne, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman and Angelina Jolie.
With spring collections coming and going across the runaways in recent weeks and awards season approaching, fashion is in high demand for movie stars and models alike. Instagram is lit up with front-row snaps and backstage pictures, and YouTube videos are popping up. When the two powerful forces collide it’s downright magical.
KENZO, a Paris-based luxury house by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, has released several short films with established and emerging film directors to showcase its latest designs. In summer 2016, director Spike Jonze (“Being John Malkovich,” “Her”) delivered a kinetic short featuring actress Margaret Qualley (“The Nice Guys,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”) for the brand’s fragrance KENZO World. The same year, actors Mahershala Ali (“Moonlight,” “Green Book”) and Natasha Lyonne (“Slums of Beverly Hills,” “Orange is the New Black”) starred in “The Realest Real.” Directed by Carrie Brownstein (“Portlandia”), it’s a short that looks at the impact of social media as if it was a real place. Acclaimed director Sean Baker (“The Florida Project”) also directed “Snowbird” with Abbey Lee (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Neon Demon”) and shot on iPhones like his celebrated film, “Tangerine.”
This year, KENZO enlisted Ana Lily Amirpour (“A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night,” “The Bad Batch”) to direct its spring/summer 2018 film “Yo! My Saint.” Jessica Henwick (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Game of Thrones”) is the Muse to musician/singer Alex Zhang Hungtai’s Artist in a cross between “Blow-Up” and “Lost in Translation.” Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman Karen O, an Oscar-nominated songwriter for “Her,” and Michael Kiwanuka (“Little Big Lies” theme song”) provide the central music.
The brand’s largest cinematic campaign was released earlier this month with “The Everything.” KENZO co-creative director Humberto Leon makes his directing debut with this nearly 30-minute story starring model-turned-actress Milla Jovovich (“Resident Evil,” “He Got Game”) as Georgie, the mother of an eclectic collection of teenagers with special powers. Jay Ellis (“Insecure”) is her boyfriend, Steven, and Regina Hall (“Girls Trip,” “The Hate U Give”) is family friend Mimi. The teens are like the X-Men with talents that bring changes to their bodies. Alexandra Shipp (“X-Men: Apocalypse,” “X-Men: Dark Phoenix”) is Rose, with the ability to swap shoes and socks; Sasha Frovloa (“Red Sparrow”) can do wonders with her fingernails as Shelley, and Kodi Smit-McPhee (“The Road,” “X-Men: Apocalypse”) has a thing for styling hair as Bobby.
The awkwardness of being different, living in a huge family and going through high school are all throughout this lovely short that’s sprinkled with beautiful fall fashions. Rose wants to score brand-new kicks; Shelley needs the courage to approach her crush, Frankie (Ekaterina Samsonov of “You Were Never Really There” and “Wonderstruck”), and Bobby is trying to find himself. And every great teen movie must have a school dance and an embarrassing parent, and this one delivers. Grimes’ “Oblivion” has a perfect place as the song that brings out the best of the teens on the dance floor. Yes, it’s an infomercial for very expensive clothes, but the storylines, actors and risks this piece takes make “The Everything” something that is beyond its fabric and consumerism. Watch for Jonze’s cameo as the principal.
Watch all the short films mentioned in this YouTube playlist:
Prada released a David Lynchian promotional video this summer starring model Amanda Murphy, actress Sarah Paulson (“American Horror Story” “Carol”) and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner Violet Chachki for Prada Neon Dream. The logo-heavy short takes place in Las Vegas with Paulson playing multiple roles, her signature acting style. She’s a bellhop, a show companion, and a roller-skating waitress. Chachki leads an army of Marilyn Monroe impersonators while Murphy shows off the designer threads and accessories. Auteurs Pedro Almodóvar (“The Skin I Live In,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown”) and Wes Anderson (“Rushmore, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”) have previously collaborated with the Italian fashion house.
See Prada clips below in this YouTube playlist: