If you don’t know Ryan Heffington by name, you at least know his game-changing work. The L.A.-based choreographer’s eerie interpretive routine—expertly executed by then-11-year-old Maddie Ziegler—pushed Sia’s “Chandelier” video to be one of YouTube’s most viewed ever, and ultimately snagged him the MTV VMA for Best Choreography. He’s also shared his brand of beautiful yet off-putting routines with FKA Twigs, Florence Welch and Arcade Fire, delivering videos that stand out from the booty-popping, hip-thrusting pack.
Now, Heffington’s stirring up another genre: perfume ads. Kenzo’s commercial for its first fragrance, World, is not like any you’ve seen before. No frolicking in a flower field. No sexed-up undressing. Instead, it features actress-model-dancer Margaret Qualley excusing herself from a gala, not to run off with a lover but to get down with her bad self as she roams the empty halls.
The short film is directed by Spike Jonze, a longtime collaborator of designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim (he staged a play starring Jonah Hill for their Opening Ceremony spring 2015 fashion show). Qualley, the daughter of Andie MacDowell and model Paul Qualley, recently starred alongside Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe crime comedy The Nice Guys and makes spectacular use of her saucer-round eyes in HBO’s haunting HBO series, The Leftovers.
She’s captivating as she flings herself around the grandiose venue, dressed in an emerald gown and heels. In stark contrast to all that fanciness, Qualley’s dance moves are frenzied and seemingly out of control—something of a Heffington signature. Her eyes go a little wild at times, not unlike Ziegler’s in her “Chandelier” performance. It’s both unsettling and insanely mesmerizing—and such a refreshing take on the usual eaux escapades.