H&M distributes the lookbook for its designer collaborations a week in advance, so the clothes that are part of the high-low designer collaborations are never a surprise by the time the company hosts its fashion show-slash- entertainment extravaganza for the press. But there’s still always something big, campy, outrageous and audacious, like Anna Della Russo’s fashion shower or Olivier Rousteing and the Backstreet Boys for last year’s Balmain.
This time, the entertainment, fashion and art were all elevated to the same level for Kenzo x H&M. That should not surprise anyone familiar with the parties at play. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim’s creative ability to intersect marketing and retail at Opening Ceremony basically got them the job at Kenzo. They have done wildly impressive things, not least of which was staging a play in lieu of a fashion show on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House. With the mega-resources of H&M at their disposal, they didn’t skimp.
Jean Paul Goude directed the whole thing and for those too young to really know him beyond Kim Kardashian’s “Break the Internet” Paper magazine cover, he is a true visionary. The show opened with a set of syncopated beat boxers and a horn band moving in sync to “Express Yourself” as vignettes of dancers came out in the Kenzo x H&M clothing moving to the beat of Goude’s drum. They wriggled their fingers, moved their hands, kicked, stepped and moved in deliberate choreographed unison to demonstrate something huge: The power of self-expression. The clothes underscored it — purple and leopard print leggings, bombers, floral printed peasant dresses that fanned with a spin, patchwork denim and weirdo pinafore dresses — and took on an imaginative, inclusionary power when everyone was moving in unison in them, showing the audience how to wear something weird, loud and proud, while giving them a show.
The whole ensemble of beat boxers, dancers/models and marching band players felt like fun and joy. You can buy everything beginning Nov. 3 but for this chance to express yourself, you really had to be there.
And those who were there came ready to express, in the way only a Leon and Lim party mandates. Lupita Nyong’o danced with Iman and a press-shy Chance the Rapper, who was fresh off his appearance at the White House State Dinner. In the front row perch, Sienna Miller and Spike Jonze stuck out in their very un-Kenzo ensembles of beige and gray – otherwise, the celeb contingent had hit the H&M showroom hard earlier in the day. Halsey, Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, Joe Jonas and Elizabeth Olsen all came decked out in the brand.
“This feels very me, very bubble-gum but also kind of hard, which I like,” Charli XCX said of the look she chose, a pink-lined black jacket. “And I really love an animal print. And a legging. And a sock-shoe. That s–t’s genius.”
The pop starlet admitted that most of her bargain shopping was done in consignment stores rather than fast fashion ones like H&M. “A lot of vintage discount deals,” she said. “I got a good jail suit orange romper – is that what you call it? Very comfortable.”
Pregnant Leigh Lezark opted for the other end of the spectrum from Charli’s shearling jacket. “I love the flowiness, and now I have a big belly, so it’s very easy to fit,” she said of her chosen printed caftan. “With this weather, it’s like 90 degrees out – so it’s perfect.”
Like Charli, Rainey Qualley had also opted for the sock-shoe. “They’re very much like a sock – but with high heels,” she said of her pink footwear. “This jacket is super dope because it’s reversible.”
Qualley attended sans sister Margaret, who appeared in Kenzo’s recent digital sensation of a fragrance ad. “I’m very proud of her for that,” Qualley said of the “dope” campaign. “I wish she were here but she’s in France filming.”
After the show guests were quickly offered Peroni beer and popcorn; tufts were strewn about on a center elevated platform where the previous VIPs sprawled – although the surrounding action was so much more tempting that Jonas was seen ditching the exclusive pen for the crowd.
“Is anyone going home to watch the debate?” wondered a socially-minded guest, picking confetti out of her hair. The true ravers didn’t seem to care that it was an evening hinging upon political history, nor that it was a measly school night nor, even, that Ice Cube had taken to the stage, close to 9:30. No, the Kenzo demographic was more than content to thrash to “You Can Do It” beneath a voltage of lighting usually reserved for a 3 a.m. Saturday at the club.
“Let’s do this s–t!” Ice Cube instructed the crowd, before a cry to “get down, get down, roll your panties down.” The ever-polite rapper capped things off with a shout out to “my man, Kenzo.”