ARTICLE PATRIK SANDBERG
PHOTOGRAPHY ALFREDO PIOLA / ALFREDO PIOLA
KENZO SETS THE TONE FOR SPRING BY ENLISTING THE SIGNATURE SOUNDS AND STYLE OF DEVONTÉ HYNES
The swiftness with which Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have revitalized the Kenzo brand has been impressive. Then again, appealing to the young, wayfaring consumer with an eclectic combination of utilitarian ingenuity and urgent aesthetic relevance has become the Opening Ceremony creators’ stock-in-trade. For their Spring 2013 show, the designers extended their prescience to the soundtrack by tapping songwriter-producer Devonté Hynes, aka Blood Orange, to do the music. Their instincts were spot-on: in the months that followed, Hynes produced one of the sleeper pop hits of the year in Sky Ferreira’s “Everything is Embarrassing,” and released a shimmering EP with collaborator Solange Knowles, entitled True. Dubbing their latest outing “Kenzo Jungle Japan,” Lim and Leon debuted an energetic complement to their womenswear, a new take on urban safari that serves as an homage to the original DNA of the brand—Jungle Jap was the name of Kenzo Takada’s first store, opened in Paris in 1970. The clothes, consisting of layered prints and graphic text, felt electric. The music, sung and performed live by Hynes, was an effervescent experiment in pop and R&B. Here, the designers speak to the musician about merging expressions and his mornings with Michael Jackson.
CAROL LIM & HUMBERTO LEON We were so excited to work with you on the Kenzo show. What made you decide to do it?
DEVONTÉ HYNES I really love and respect Kenzo. I also really loved the idea of creating a piece of music along with a show that was happening—soundtracking something that people will only experience by being there at the show in Paris, and aiding their eyes. It’s something I think about a lot, settings of places people hear music, so on that side of things also I was very keen to do this.
CL & HL What was your inspiration for the music?
DH Seeing what was influencing the collection was a huge source of inspiration for me, especially as you seemed to be drawing from things that aesthetically I tend to look to anyway.
CL & HL Was this your first time composing music for a fashion show? Were you surprised by anything? For example, we have heard musicians say that they are always surprised by the tempo necessary to keep up with the models’ walking.
DH This was my first time. Before I’d only ever supplied music to designers. It was awesome to get to write something new. Tempo and pacing was a new thing for me to think about.
CL & HL What is your favorite song to dance to now?
DH I’m in love with “Kiss You” by One Direction. It’s actually flawless. And “MIA” by Omarion.
CL & HL Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
DH I have so many. I go about three times a week!
CL & HL What is the first thing you think about when you wake up?
DH Michael Jackson, usually.
CL & HL We heard somewhere that you have synesthesia, meaning that you can literally hear colors and see music. Is that true? Did the Kenzo collection awaken any specific kinds of sounds for you?
DH Yeah, I mean, it’s all the time. The show was really fun for me, in the sense that because I was controlling the sound I could match it visually so that nothing was too jarring in my eyes.
CL & HL We are so excited about our friend Solange—she was the one that introduced us to you—and her new EP, which features your production and songwriting. What was it like working together?
DH It was a dream. She’s the best person to collaborate with, we work very naturally together, so it’s always such a joy! I’m so happy with the EP results.
CL & HL We know that you are a huge Jean-Paul Goude fan, especially his work with Grace Jones. He has worked with us on Kenzo campaigns, and was at the show as well. Did you get to meet him? Any impressions?
DH I did and I died! I tried to keep it cool, but then Humberto blew my cover about how crazy obsessive I am!