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Carrie Brownstein Tackles Bizarre World of Social Media Fandom In New Kenzo Film

The "Portlandia" star pulled double duty for Kenzo and Opening Ceremony designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon this week.

It's been a big week for Carol Lim and Huberto Leon, the dynamic duo behind New York's Opening Ceremony and Paris-based Kenzo. On Sunday night, they got fashion people laughing and thinking with a pageant-style show that featured their famous friends commenting on hot-button political issues and lots of model heckling by genius hosts Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. On Monday, the duo announced the cast of their upcoming Kenzo x H&M campaign (Chloe Sevigny, Iman, Chance the Rapper). And on Monday night, Brownstein continued her promotional tour with friends Lim and Leon, premiering a short film she wrote and directed for Kenzo's fall 2016 collection.

"I was always a fan of theirs," Brownstein told us during the event at Metrograph in New York's Lower East Side. "I was always interested in where they were taking Opening Ceremony and Kenzo as creative directors, I just always felt like they had a relationship to the real world." The actress/comedian/musician/author/director remembered an event in Los Angeles that she attended where "there was literally female skateboarders skating across the banquet tables with, like, painfully loud punk music playing... I felt a kindred spirit with them."

The cast of "The Realest Real" with Brownstein, Lim and Leon. Photo: Kenzo

The cast of "The Realest Real" with Brownstein, Lim and Leon. Photo: Kenzo

She was already working on the film when Lim and Leon asked if she would be one of the speakers at the Opening Ceremony pageant, before they got the idea to ask Brownstein if she and Armisen would host. "I’m very trusting of their vision and I’m honestly just here to help them with that; it’s really fun to collaborate with people who I think are brilliant." When I complimented her model heckling, she emphasized that it was a directive from Lim and Leon. "I didn't want to have a woman who isn’t able to speak just heckled but at the same time, I felt like it was a repartee."

For "The Realest Real," Brownstein's debut fashion film (which you can watch above), the direction from Lim and Leon was minimal. They brought Brownstein to Paris to see the collection and explain their inspiration: obsessive fandom. Kenzo has a tradition of putting out fashion films that are less fashion, more film. "For us it’s about creating a body of work that I think Carrie was really excited to do, and that she considers something in her body of work that she’s proud to put on her list of other amazing accomplishments," explained Lim.

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"I was trying to run more things by them," said Brownstein. "I respect them as artists; I see them as very interesting and forward-thinking creators and very inventive and innovative, so I didn't want to divorce the film from their aesthetic; but at the same time, they gave me the leeway to create a narrative film, which is, I didn't realize, but a little bit rare in fashion."

Brownstein, Leon and Lim. Photo: Kenzo

Brownstein, Leon and Lim. Photo: Kenzo

"The Realest Real" brings to life the type of obsessive fandom that seems to only exist on social media, pointing out the ridiculousness of writing "Mom" and "Marry me" to people who have no idea who you are. The unsurprisingly cool cast includes Natasha Lyonne, Rowan Blanchard, Kim Gordon, Mahershala Ali of "House of Cards" and gorgeous model-turned-actress Laura Harrier, all of whom wear Kenzo fall 2016, of course. However, fashion is not the focal point of the six-minute film, and someone not looking at it as a "fashion film" might only notice that the cast seems very well-dressed.

For the designers, it's fine if the entertainment overshadows the clothing a little bit. "If you can create a film where [the clothing] feels integrated and you remember the humor and context of everything that's happening, that to us is the win, not like, 'oh, I remember that that’s the fall/winter '16 runway collection,'" said Lim. The designers' fashion week philosophy reflects a larger trend (of which they can be considered early adapters) of prioritizing the experience over actual clothes, and they make a good point: the people who need to see the clothes up close will get a chance, which is the case for just about every designer. "Whether you went to this show or a re-see, there are obviously [other] opportunities to see [the actual clothes]."

Lim says we can expect some more entertainment in the next couple of months surrounding Kenzo's upcoming H&M collaboration, so watch this space. 

Homepage photo: Kenzo

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