H&M has been keeping a tight lid on what its annual designer collaboration, which drops in a little over a month, actually looks like. We've gotten a few sneak peeks here and there of this year's collection, Kenzo-by-way-of-H&M, leading up to the November 3 launch. The most recent update? The fast-fashion retailer revealed that Jean-Paul Goude (who also shot Kim Kardashian's #BreakTheInternet Paper cover) was serving as the creative director for the collaboration's yet-to-be-revealed campaign. H&M reignited the fervor by teasing some of its high-profile campaign stars, such as fashion legend Iman, Vietnamese rapper Suboi, and Chance the Rapper, among others. Today the debut ad spot for Kenzo x H&M drops — and Refinery29 got an exclusive first look at the collaged campaign.
The first images feature Iman and Suboi, shot in motion, wearing the collab's brightly patterned duds. The ad mimics the effect of physical photographs being cut apart and then getting pieced together with tape. Leon and Lim have long been fans of Goude's work, so it makes sense that we're seeing one of the photographer's signatures factor into the collaboration. "Everything that I do starts with a drawing," the artist said of the spread's sketched nature. "I’ve always been fascinated by human proportions, especially women’s. Fashion artists have always outrageously exaggerated the silhouette of their models. I used to do it when I was an illustrator a long time ago; now I do it with photographs." He began cutting up transparencies without a specific visual goal in mind — and even though he says, "It felt like I was committing a sacrilege," it allowed him to see his own photographic interpretation of a fashion drawing. "It became my way of doing things: drawing with photographs in a rough, spontaneous way; an alternative to the earnestness of commercial fashion photography in general."
The ad aesthetic for these high-profile H&M collabs can vary a lot from designer to designer. Whereas Olivier Rousteing recruited his loyal Balmain Army to rep last year's pair-up, Kenzo and H&M wanted their campaign stars to be bold. "We wanted to feature talents whose personal style is more than just their looks, who stand for something and have a message and come from different places from all over the world," Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s head of design, told Refinery29.
Kenzo x H&M is about celebrating fashion for everyone, Johansson explained; it's "a collaboration that speaks to the whole world." So when it came time to suss out the talent that would represent the collection, they zeroed in on people "who have something interesting to say and who have strong personal style." Diversity was a big consideration for the retailer (as it has been in past marketing efforts). So Johansson hopes that the inaugural campaign's casting — paired with the dynamic visuals and, most importantly, the actual clothes — channels the energy of this partnership in "all of its creativity, fun, and love of fashion." We'll have to wait until October 17 for the rest of the ad spots to drop, but from what we've seen so far, it looks like that mission was accomplished.