Kenzo and H&M are two brands known for populating their runways and print campaigns with diverse models. Therefore, it’s only natural that when the two fashion powerhouses came together to produce the Swedish retailer’s latest high-end collaboration, the campaign imagery would carry on both labels’ inclusive traditions.
And that it does. New York-based activist Amy Sall, founder of SUNU: Journal of African Affairs, Critical Thought + Aesthetics and transgender artist, poet and DJ Juliana Huxtable star in the first promos for Kenzo x H&M. Accompanying Amy and Juliana are Oko Ebombo, a musician and performance artist living in Paris, and Isamaya Ffrench, a makeup artist and member of the Theo Adams Company, a London-based performance collective.
Kenzo creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon hold that their casting decision was a nod to the label’s namesake and founder. In the 1970s, Japanese-French fashion designer Kenzo Takada, now acting Honorary President of the Asian Couture Federation, devoted himself to a very honest, raw presentation of streetwear. Leon and Lim describe their models as “people we admire, icons in their own fields, people who are influential beyond their fashion sensibility.” Apparently, there’s even more realness to come: “This is just the beginning,” said Leon of the lookbook stars in a recent interview with Vogue. “We really put our heart and soul into how it will look. We just love what they do.”
Another homage to Takada is the combination of colorful prints and fun textures present throughout the collection. Amy and Juliana stun in bright tiger-print jersey rollneck tops and matching high-waisted leggings, their arms swallowed by long black leather gloves that rep Kenzo and Paris in bold pink lettering. Lim and Leon finish off the models’ wild looks with jacquard knitted, cotton candy-colored tiger-sock shaft boots. And don’t get us started on Oko’s pastel blue tiger-print padded flip-flops.
At a glimpse, the collection unabashedly proclaims: “We are Kenzo x H&M, hear us roar.”