Kenzo has a history of turning its fashion campaigns into short films directed by people at the forefront of the industry, including Spike Jonze and Carrie Brownstein. For Spring/Summer 2017, Kenzo creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim wisely tapped Kahlil Joseph, the man behind Beyonce’s stunning and acclaimed visual album Lemonade, who has worked with the brand before.
Music is my Mistress has the requisite drool-inducing Kenzo wardrobe, gorgeous cinematography and impeccable casting (including Tracee Ellis Ross, Jesse Williams, and Kelsey Lu) as in previous projects. But it’s slightly longer and a bit more serious in tone — a rumination on creating meaningful art within a system that may or may not be ready to hear you. It relies on drawn-out silences, bursts of music, and subtitles to chronicle one man’s journey to find a beautiful missing woman who is described as “African royalty.”
Thanks to a cast and crew comprised almost entirely of people of color, interspersed quotes from Senegalese film director Djibril Diop Mambéty, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to the Trump administration’s so-called “travel ban” the film functions as an homage to being both creative and a minority in this moment in time. Despite its pensive demeanor, it’s not without moments of humor — for example, a green title screen in the beginning of the film dubs it R-rated for “strong language and overt depictions of Blackness throughout.”
We’ve long appreciated Kenzo for using their campaigns as an opportunity to create not another commercial, but an artwork that can stand alone on its own merits. And we love them even more now for providing an example of a fashion brand not only dutifully accepting but openly championing diversity.