Le Renard Bleu, the latest film by Partel Oliva for Kenzo, takes a new collaboration between musicians Midori Takada and Lafawndah as ground zero for recovering a crucial myth for uncertain times: the blue fox.
As transmitted by Takada, the fox appears in both ancient Dogon and Japanese folktales as the trickster archetype; belonging both to the heavens and to the earth, the fox is the agent of chaotic good, shaking the world up when its energy has become stagnant. Above all else, the fox is famous for its cunning nature.
The music of Le Renard Bleu originated in Takada’s preoccupation with the legend of the fox; after constructing a vivid instrumental composition dramatizing the spirit animal’s journeys, Lafawndah responded – in her inimitable mix of fairytale and undertow — with lyrics capturing a dialogue between her and the fox himself. Finally, Partel Oliva imagined a contemporary cinematic frame for the myth of the fox to re-appear, creating a hybrid of choreography and narrative around Takada and Lafawndah’s performance of their joint composition.
Bleu marks the first new music released by Midori Takada in nearly twenty years; it would be difficult to overstate the importance of her return to the public eye. Her first solo record, 1983’s Through the Looking Glass, has been rediscovered and heralded as a lost classic; its influence continues to permeate and inspire a new generation entranced by its lucid beauty and sensual patience. In the ensuing years, Takada-san has worked closely with theater group the Suzuki Company of Toga on productions of Electra and King Lear, an experience, she says, that allowed her to pursue “a unity of music, body and space.” Recent live solo performances have evinced the depths of her exploration of all three.
Returning to film in Japan for the third time, Partel Oliva’s moving image work (Club Ark Eternal, The Pike and the Shield) has set the standard for and revolutionized the fashion art film. Their deployment of original music, dance, and a highly stylized mise en scène coalesces here in the casting of Los Angeles krump artist Qwenga as the eponymous fox, stalking the halls of the ancient Noh theater in which Takada and Lafawndah’s performance takes place.
The pregnant, ghostly atmosphere of Le Renard Bleu is underscored by the evocative prints and cuts of Kenzo’s Spring 2018 collection; the uncanny choir of girls that cooly observe Takada and Lafawndah in the film are draped in tiger and bamboo prints cut to futuristic silhouettes, while Takada — a longtime admirer of the house — dons a vintage Kenzo kimono. A fitting close of the circle, then: decades ago, Takada adorned herself in Kenzo for her first solo performance.