Ask Yourself: Why Wasn't Your Mom Chosen For This Kenzo Campaign?

Photo: Courtesy of Kenzo.
When we first caught glimpse of Kenzo's spring 2019 campaign — shot by the supreme David LaChapelle, it should be noted — we were overcome with joy. Diversity! Smiles! Movement! This is what fashion should look like. But then, we noticed its standout star: Wendy Leon, the mother of Humberto Leon. With Carol Lim, Humberto has built the Opening Ceremony empire from the ground up and, in 2011, assumed co-creative director roles at French label Kenzo. In their latest campaign, we see a the brand's spring 2019 collection come to life.
"The minute [David] started to talk to us about this, it felt just exciting and it felt really like he understood the brand," Leon said in a press release. "Carol and I, from the beginning, we’ve always really wanted to push any imagery or anything else that is different than all the other brands. I feel like David really got that and gave us something that was his own and felt really aligned with us." LaChapelle repurposed photographs from his other works, mostly shot in Maui, where the photographer has resided for the past 11 years, as mural-like backdrops.
The campaign is similar to most fashion advertisements in that it depicts a surreal space that juxtaposes suburbia, nature, and urbanity – a very-necessary, energizing respite from politically charged fashion imagery, an idea Leon, Lim, and LaChapelle were on the same page about. The multi-generational cast is comprised of models and local creatives, like dancers, musicians, and students (which is typical of any Opening Ceremony show), many of them modeling for the first time ever. But, as you'll see in the slideshow ahead, it's Mama Leon who is the centerpiece.
"We’ve seen so many people slumped over and looking so sad in their really expensive clothing," LaChapelle explained of his decision to photograph Leon. "I really grabbed her. It wasn’t like, 'Oh, let me put the designer’s mom in it trying to make everyone happy.' It really was just, 'Oh my gosh, can I use you in a photograph? You look so good.' She radiates. She’s such a presence and so beautiful... I just wanted her in the photograph because she looked incredible as a model. She’s kind of a star." And just like that, in Kenzo's spring 2019 campaign, a star was born.

More from Designers

R29 Original Series