Director Spike Jonze’s commercial for French luxury label Kenzo is true to his iconoclast style.
The recently released short film (nearly four minutes long) for the brand’s Kenzo World perfume takes the typical tropes of fragrance ads — a knockout female, a stunning dress and an enviable soiree — and goes in a fascinating yet quirky direction, thanks to a pair of dancing shoes.
Bored to tears — literally — “Leftovers” actress Margaret Qualley (Andie MacDowell’s daughter) stars as a beauty who bolts out of a ceremony and lets loose throughout the venue.
Clad in a striking green dress, she dances wildly, fires off laser beams from her fingertips, gets into a fistfight with a gentleman, and defies gravity by torpedoing through the air into a floral arrangement — all while wearing black heels.
The video’s costume director Heidi Bivens tells Footwear News that she designed the bespoke shoes for the shoot, as well as a customized flat version for its final scene, in which Qualley hops and jumps before performing a spectacular aerial maneuver.
“We originally planned to use existing shoes from the Kenzo archive, but they proved to be too difficult to do all the dance stunts in,” Bivens explained. “We tried different heel heights and ended up with 2.5 inches based on Margaret’s comfort. We had pairs with suede soles, and others with rubber soles so that she had options to dance in depending on the [carpet or marble] surface.”
The film features a lot of gold background lighting that’s contrasted by Qualley’s billowing green gown. To make the black shoes stand out, Bivens added some delicate treatments.
“The dress has edge with the choice of grass-green color and modern architectural details,” Bivens explained, “So I chose to contrast those elements by adding a feminine bow at the ankle, balancing the toughness with the sweet.”
Bivens said that she felt “blessed” to collaborate with Jonze, who has directed the acclaimed dramas “Being John Malkovich” and “Her,” as well as Fatboy Slim’s music video for “Weapon of Choice,” which starred Christopher Walken performing bizarre dance routines. “He’s the ultimate,” she said. “He is one of the leading visionaries of our time.”
Bivens added that the creative synchronicity was enriched by Kenzo’s creative director (in partnership with Carol Lim) Humberto Leon’s friendship with Jonze: “Spike and Humberto are best friends, so the collaboration was a family affair, which included the extremely talented K.K. Barrett, [the production designer] who has worked with Spike since ‘Being John Malkovich.’ “