M.I.A. Scores Kenzo at Paris Fashion Week

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This past Sunday saw Kenzo’s Fall 2013 presentation for Paris Fashion Week, a young, fresh collection inspired by Indian and Nepalese religious architecture and aesthetics. Building on the strength and commercial success of Spring 2013’s “Jungle Fever” motif, Kenzo again slams this season out of the park—bridging East and West with remarkably executed prints and textures styled simply and cleanly.

2011 saw Carol Lim and Humberto Leon assume the dual roles of Kenzo’s creative directors, but Lim and Leon’s past 10 years have been spent growing Opening Ceremony, the cult global lifestyle retailer the pair founded in 2002. Lim and Leon’s operative business model for curating Opening Ceremony’s products and cultural influence is simple, but genius: discover and develop the best young designers from across the world by traveling to a new country each year and immersing themselves completely in the market, discovering design talent and dope food organically.

Lim and Leon back the brands they carry with all they have—affording unknown designers the world over the space and support to flourish in the American market. In addition to the novelty and uniqueness of this global exchange, OC has achieved a dedicated following through its creative collaborations with friends—a Where the Wild Things Are capsule collection with Spike Jonze, a recurring partnership (now in its 5th year) with Chloe Sevigny, and archival reissues with Vision Streetwear, DKNY, Pendelton, and many more.

So what is this even doing on a music blog? OC doesn’t merely collaborate with pals on products—Lim and Leon get by with a little help from their friends all across the map. OCNN (Opening Ceremony New News), the brand’s blog, captures the intersectionality of New York’s creative scene in its entirety. Music, visual arts, television, food, whatever, all inform fashion, and OC does an amazing job sharing its friend’s projects with its customers. Enter M.I.A. The notorious Tamil-British spitfire launched a clothing collaboration with OC in 2009, and again worked with Lim and Leon for Kenzo’s most recent efforts. This time, however, M.I.A worked on the show’s runway soundtrack, following in the footsteps of DJ duo NGUZUNGUZU, as well as The xx’s wonder-boy producer Jamie xx.

The eight-minute “Matangi Mix”, most likely a mini smathering of tracks from upcoming album Matangi, opens with tribal drumming and moves into heavy synth loops—bridging similar sounds from the 37-year-old’s 2007 smash Kala with a progressive hip hop logic. The mix refashions Bollywood samples with killer kick drums in a much cleaner mode than her most recent effort Maya. M.I.A.’s verse on the mix considers themes well known to those familiar with her body of work: agency, political corruption, and dissatisfaction with Western ideals. While the mix is mostly instrumental, she takes a moment to spit: “OK, I got this/ I’m thankful for my hands, cuz it’s a good thrower/ I’m thankful for my body, cuz it’s a f***ing banger/ I’m thankful for my mouth, cuz it’s a real screwer/ but most of all I’m thankful for my power!”

M.I.A again shows her unique ability to reconsider sonic influences from across the globe in a new hybrid hip-hop—crafting a transnational sound all her own. It’s no wonder that someone so in tune with a multiplicity of culture and custom breeds such success with Lim and Leon’s projects. If the mix and the show are any indication of what to expect from both forces in the future, we’re in for a bright one.

Listen to the mix here!

-Emily Manning

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