4th March, 2013    Text Trey Taylor   

Kenzo wanted a viral video. The kind that harlem shakes its way into the subconscious of the mainstream. A hit. Something ‘jungle fever’ viral. There was only one man who ticked all the boxes: Mat Maitland. The Mat Maitland who left school at fifteen years old. The Mat Maitland who has since worked with Michael Jackson, Goldfrapp, Beck, Mark Ronson, Basement Jaxx, and most recently, fashion favourite Kenzo.

With a roster of clients that star-studded, it would be next to impossible to cherry pick any standouts. “I’m really happy with the Kenzo video but I’m also proud of some of the projects I’ve done at Big Active Design, such as Beck’s The Information or Goldfrapp’s Black Cherry,” Maitland tells us. “They kind of mark big moments in my career. Working with Beck was a highlight as he has a clear understanding of visual arts. He was great to collaborate with, as is Alison Goldfrapp. Both have an acute sense of what they like.”

Maitland’s intrinsically ‘pop’ flavour is what caught the eyes of Kenzo creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. Growing up in the ‘80s during the age of pop art, psychedelia wasn’t hard to come by. “I’m still fascinated by the films and the pop landscape of my teenage years, from Michael Jackson and Prince (two of my greatest obsessions) to Spielberg and Warhol. In the ‘80s, everything seemed larger than life and potent. The idiom of those days appeared to be more epic and fully charged.”

Having worked with the King of Pop himself, these influences weren’t difficult to translate into something Kenzo could wrap their heads around. “The film’s visual legacy stemmed from the collection itself. Its essence needed to match the imaginary landscape set by Carol and Humberto as creative directors. It also represents an extension of my illustrative work, which was why Kenzo approached me originally. I guess I wanted to use the jungle theme as a starting point but I was intent on giving it a more surreal and eye-popping intensity.”

This intensity provides a base for the video’s virility. Its Tropicana colour scheme quenches even the thirst of a parched minimalist. Nearing fifty thousand plays, Mat can only attribute the growing success to one thing: “The viral aspect exists mainly because the brand has a lot of followers in the fashion world and this in turn has had a sort of online interest-triggering effect,” Mat says. “I like the idea of people around the world being able to discover something and communicate their appreciation online. The Internet has made fashion more democratic!” Fashion can be a jungle, but Mat Maitland’s video for Kenzo gives us something to beat our chests about.