Natasha Lyonne Talks Collaborating with KENZO for her Directorial Debut

Natasha Lyonne Talks Collaborating with KENZO for her Directorial Debut

V sits down with Natasha Lyonne to talk about her directorial debut "Cabiria, Charity, Chastity," a short film in collaboration with KENZO.

V sits down with Natasha Lyonne to talk about her directorial debut "Cabiria, Charity, Chastity," a short film in collaboration with KENZO.

Text: Christina Cacouris

In keeping with their tradition of handing over the reins to a different director for each of their now-renowned fashion films, KENZO tapped Orange is the New Black star Natasha Lyonne to direct their latest, entitled "Cabiria, Charity, Chastity." With Maya Rudolph, Fred Armisen, and Macaulay Culkin, the all-star cast came together for a whimsical, glittery Surrealist film, with elements of Federico Fellini's La Strada and Bob Fosse's Sweet Charity (from which the titular character derives her name). The 11-minute short had its premiere last night at the Public Hotel, where Natasha and KENZO Creative Directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon sat down to talk about their collaboration.

V: Will fashion film ultimately replace still campaign imagery?

Carol: For us, we’ve always been a fan of cinema; I would consider them films first and foremost. For us it’s something we’ll continue to explore—we don’t even like to call them fashion films, because there’s a pretty free way that people will interpret the story. The clothes are almost secondary in many ways because it needs to fit with the characters.

Natasha: Seeing it now, finally, on the big screen, it’s such an incredible thing that you’re having people do [with these films]. It’s such a rare opportunity in the life, even for somebody who’s such a showbiz baby like myself; it’s so rare that the stakes don’t exist because it’s just about the art form. It’s just about: make something as radical as you can imagine it—whatever it is that’s inside you and just go for it. It’s a true artistic freedom. The world that Carol and Humberto have created allows for a freedom of expression that not many other places have anymore. Everything has become so homogenized, and assembly line propaganda is put on such a pedestal... Their world is one of the few places that really allows for that kind of sheer liberation and inspiration, something that I think is sorely lacking.

V: With this being your directorial debut, were you studying films you wanted to emulate or did you trust your instincts and do what felt natural and right?

Natasha: I definitely have spent a lifetime in the back of the film forum. To make something as an actor, it’s somebody else’s [vision] ultimately; it’s like a filter between you and the thing. You’re not quite given the opportunity to be given exposure to your own insides. Seeing this movie, it’s like I cracked open my skull, and I always knew that those images were hiding and lurking and that things were that weird in there, and now I have hard evidence to support my case. And the idea that it’s actually a safe space, it’s such a scary life to go out on a limb. The setup with KENZO there’s a support—the inside of your brains are going to be supported, not ridiculed, [which] bolsters your instinct to take further leaps.

Humberto: The coolest thing is that we really tried to make your vision come alive and be a big support system for whatever ideas you had, whatever you were channeling we were trying to make it.

Natasha: Yeah, it also really makes me want to make other things! You see how crazy it is to make things and show people. I remember when Carrie Brownstein made her movie [for KENZO] last year, I remember being really struck by how bold that is, that the very first thing she was going to make was going to be launched in such a big way. It’s terrifying when you think about it. You should make your first things in secret in your room, and show one friend. There’s also something really fun about that in a way. You’re taking big swings and making these big mistakes but it doesn’t really matter, that’s part of the joy of things.

Humberto: I think in partnering, one of the most exiting things that I saw on set was just the confidence that you had. If someone told me you had never made a movie, I never would have believed it. You had your director stance ready to go. It felt like you were a pro.

Natasha: It’s because Chloe [Sevigny] had bought me this Spike Lee baseball cap for my birthday! I wore that hat and had great confidence. Honestly, my heart was going to collapse in on itself, it was so devastatingly moving to experience that much love. It was very much a this-is-your-life moment. Everybody was my safe touchstone; the fact that they were showing up for me in this way and being full support for the strangest thing I could come up with, it was a really moving experience. That was part of the confidence was feeling that intense level of support. I respond better to positive reinforcement. When I’m being received with love it makes me want to grow like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors. I’m a lot like that plant. That love and that support kept emboldening me and my spirits. It was just amazing. Really the highlight of my creative life, without question. I'm hugely grateful.

"Cabiria, Charity, Chastity" is out now. Watch the film below or on KENZO.com.

Credits: IMAGES BY GETTY COURTESY OF KENZO

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