Whenever I’m bored, I start day-dreaming about all the weird things I think I can do with my mind,” Humberto Leon, one half of the creative duo behind Kenzo.
Specifically, the designer wishes he could train his brain to do some 300 things that are all in the same vein as making a man fall over if he catcalls a woman. Call him an escapist or an idealist but, rather than keep these Matilda-style mind tricks to himself, Leon has made a film about them.
Kenzo fans will have long appreciated the platform the brand has given to aspiring filmmakers. Leon and his business partner Carol Lim have given creators from Carrie Brownstein and Natasha Lyonne the opportunity to make their directorial debuts with the brand’s backing, and now, Leon has turned the spotlight on himself.
The Everything, Leon’s first personal foray into film, celebrates Kenzo’s autumn/winter 2018 collection and La Collection Memento N°3 within the realms of a family drama. Except it’s a fashion film (duh!) and, accordingly, the narrative is acted out by Milla Jovovich, who plays the mother of the unusual brood, and Alexandra Shipp, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Sasha Frolova, Regina Hall and Jay Ellis, who moonlight as the teenagers.
“The collaboration with the cast was probably one of the most exciting [partnerships] I have ever done, because I sat down with each actor and really talked about their unique characterisation,” Leon shares.
“And I honestly feel like I’ve never worked on something as 360 as this before. The collection that’s shown in the film was influenced by films, so there’s been a meta journey throughout the whole process.”
Yet, design and directing have not presented as many parallels as Leon assumed. He has also been surprised by his own procrastination.
“I’m so detail-orientated and used to making clothes, working on campaigns and planning online marketing. But learning all the aspects of film production, from editing to sound to colour correction, is super labour intensive. You never know when it’s actually finished,” he laughs. “The Everything had a rollercoaster of different cuts, but I love the flow of how it goes now.”
Leon is certainly downplaying his skills behind the screen, but his grasp of popular media is second nature to him as a creator. “Kenzo has always been deeply involved in culture,” he muses. “We love using fashion as a medium, because we know that it can seep into different art forms. We blur the lines between fashion, music and art through storytelling
Film, however, is the “ultimate storytelling vehicle” for him because it’s democratic. “I like that you don’t have to care about fashion to watch my film and be entertained,” he notes. “Obviously the fashion community is an influential one, but I love coming into things outside of the industry.”
Has Leon got the director’s bug? Of course not! The self-deprecating man of the hour’s inclusive business mantras and desire to collaborate with “iconic” people he admires means he’ll never say never though.
“The list of people I’d love to collaborate with is probably longer than my lifetime, and this was really fun, so, who knows, I might work on a fun indie film.” Watch this space, but make sure you watch The Everything first.