Mat Maitland is the creative brain behind some of music’s most colorful and unique album campaigns, and now he is lending his pop art aesthetic to the ever-evolving world of fashion. Kenzo Creative Directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony reintroduced the jungle aesthetic back into the brand. Kenzo’s latest collection is a blend of neon leopard prints and safari inspired pieces.
However, the Big Active produced video for the collection is as, maybe more so, electrifying as the clothes themselves. Maitland transformed his pop art collage style into a video format, something that he was not initially commissioned to create. Just as Kenzo is in the process of a reboot, Maitland may have just heightened the creative standards for fashion films. Portable spoke to Maitland about his video for Kenzo’s 2013 Resort Collection.
Portable: You’ve created some of the most imaginative brand campaigns, what drew you to Kenzo?
Mat Maitland: I was aware that Kenzo was going through a rebrand with Humberto and Carol at the helm and thought that what they were doing was really exciting. I was initially approached to create some illustrations but then they suggested the idea of a film.
P: As an Art Director for musical campaigns such as Beck, Goldfrapp and Basement Jaxx, how does the transition from print material to viral video affect your process?
Mat Maitland: It’s the first time I’ve worked in this medium so it was thrilling to see my images come to life. Ultimately though, whether it be for print of film, it needs to project the right message and be faithful to the brand (or album). What I love about fashion and music is that even if essentially there is a product to sell there’s a lot of freedom to express ideas because the product is enhanced by the fantasy and therefore the creative process.
P: Your illustration style and Kenzo’s 2013 line are similar in aesthetic. How did you delve deeper into the psychedelic jungle?
Mat Maitland: Much like the collection itself I really wanted the film to be based on the jungle but to make it more surreal and colourful, as if seen through the eyes of Willy Wonka. The brand has such a great energy so this was also an important part of the film, the way we used flashes of solarized strobing and fast editing.
P: What tools and mediums did you use?
Mat Maitland: The model was shot on a green screen, then I created a whole portfolio of collage worlds, snapshots if you like, for the film which then suggested what we could do in each scene. Much like when I create a still image, there needs to be some room to be creative to not script it all out 100%. Natalia Stuyk (who did the animation) and I would then work on each section until we were happy.
P: While the clothes and background consistently shift shape, color and pattern, what inspired you to cast different hues and patterns on the model’s skin?
Mat Maitland: I imagined the model as though she was an inhabitant of this neon jungle, almost like an exotic animal, so I wanted the patterns to immerse her as well as the environment around her. Also, Kenzo had some amazing prints in the collection so it was a nice way of using these.
P: Much of your illustration is pop inspired, with colors and collage techniques that are reminiscent of 80′s/90′s style. How did you get started using this technique in your work?
Mat Maitland: It’s really hard to say, I guess so many things influence you, I have an insatiable appetite for pop culture and I guess the 80’s/90’s made the biggest impression on me because of my age. My illustrative career started after having created imagery for a few music campaigns such as Goldfrapp’s ‘Black Cherry’ album. It was a refreshing change from art directing other image makers.
P: The model in the video has a near catlike appearance and fluid movements, did you intend to incorporate her as more of an animal rather than person within the jungle?
Mat Maitland: Yes, that was the idea. We wanted Gana to be otherworldly and almost un-human, almost as if this jungle was on another planet.
P: Do you see yourself lending your talents to fashion more often in the future?
Mat Maitland: Definitely. I love working in fashion and tend to focus my imagery towards it.