Statuesque, jolty and possessed are not words usually associated with advertising a new fragrance, yet an elegant model in a grass-green evening gown charging around the backstage of an awards ceremony embraces exactly these in a new commercial by French luxury house Kenzo.
Spike Jonze, whose film repertoire includes 1999's Being John Malkovich and more recently 2013's Her, for which he won an Academy Award for his debut in original screenwriting, directed the unusual "music" video – and the internet is rejoicing in its originality.
Why is it causing such a fuss? Well, for starters it seems to be breaking down barriers when it comes to what’s feminine and sought after in scent. Forget being seduced by a male model or walking through a field of roses; dancer and actress Margaret Qualley looks like she’s having the time of her life and dancing like no one is watching, with moves that are abrupt, purposeful and sometimes robotic. The video was fittingly filmed at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in LA, the namesake of the cultural activist.
The choreography is bananas (Ryan Heffington from Sia’s Chandelier fame is at the helm) and the original track is by Sam Spiegel & Ape Drums featuring Assassin. After stepping out of the ceremony, Qualley starts her dance, picks a fight with a bystander and shoots laser beams from her fingertips, breaking vases and jumping on tables with abandon. It's not cute or ditzy but rather bold, real and strong – a far more realistic representation of the attitudes of the 2016 woman. Not once during the powerful 3-minute-46-second video do you feel like you’re being told to buy something – instead, the energy and charisma of the video embodies the brand philosophy by Kenzo’s artistic directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of “a world that celebrates freedom of expression, diversity and creativity”.
It culminates with Qualley diving into a giant, floral evil eye, begging the question whether this is what initially possessed her and lured her from her seat.
And so, perhaps, that’s why we love it. It’s bizarre, bold and unashamedly different from what we’ve seen before. Who wouldn’t want to capture the scent of someone – or something – that can dance like that?