Spike Jonze just directed an ad for Kenzo World, a new perfume for women, and it’ is bonkers. The fragrance was designed by master perfumer Francis Kurkdjian and, according to Kenzo, is “an unprecedented blend of peony, jasmine, and sparkling crystals of ambroxan®,” whatever “ambroxan®” is. To communicate this “unprecedented blend,” Jonze, choreographer Ryan Heffington and The Leftovers’ Margaret Qualley went to Los Angeles’ Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and tore the roof off the sucker. Scientists could probably describe Qualley’s moves, set to a track by Jonze’s brother Sam Spiegel and Ape Drums, but let’s just say they’re unexpected. Perfume ad or no, it’s a fine addition to Jonze’s already formidable collection of short films.
The building, a New Formalist masterpiece by Welton Becket, is on display nearly as much as the dancing: Qualley spiders along the mirrored walls, floats across stage, and does a “Happy Feet” routine on an end table outside the Founders’ Circle. The showstopper is a crane shot that follows her up the grand staircase, lets her cross into a close-up at the landing, slows down as she outruns the camera into a full-length shot for some dress-swinging madness, then floats dizzyingly backward while four Margaret Qualleys race upward into the Escherian space created by the building’s mirrors. Also, she shoots lasers from her fingers.
The video obviously owes more than a little to the Christopher Walken–starring “Weapon of Choice” music video Jonze directed for Fatboy Slim, which, come to think of it, is also built around Los Angeles architecture. (And what would “Sabotage” be without the Los Feliz Manor?) His new ad may not quite be on the level of “Pardon Our Dust,” “Lamp,” or “Doctors,” but it might be the best location work he’s done since Adaptation. Here’s hoping the perfume lives up to its ad.