The Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy: Chapter Four


For Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the Californian creative directors of Japanese-Parisian label Kenzo, Gregg Araki is “a director of our generation.” As teens, Leon and Lim fell in love with Araki’s “Teenage Apocalypse” trilogy, a pulp-y, hyper-stylized collection of films about disaffected youth featuring Totally Fucked Up (1993), The Doom Generation (1995), and Nowhere (1997). Now considered an important part of the New Queer Cinema movement of the early 1990s, all three films star James Duval (albeit as three different characters). The remaining cast-members include a mix of young newcomers (a 22-year-old Rose McGowan in Doom; a 23-year-old Ryan Phillippe in Nowhere), established teen actors (Christina Applegate, 21 Jump Street’s Dustin Nguyen), and cult figures of the day (underage porn star-turned-actress Traci Lords; dancer, makeup artist, Madonna BFF, and general New York City cool girl Debi Mazar).

“I wanted to be friends with all of [the characters],” recalls Lim of the films. “But that’s the great thing about it; when you watch the films, it creates this alternate but still identifiable reality that you want to be a part of,” she continues.

“Visually, they’re so stimulating, everyone looks so cool,” explains Leon. “It was almost the best version of you stylistically.”

For Kenzo’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection, Lim and Leon reached out to Araki to create an original short as a sort of sequel to the trilogy, almost 20 years on. The duo had met the director once at a film festival in Thailand about four years ago. “We just reached out, blindly,” says Leon. “Thank God Gregg had remembered that we did meet that one time.” Araki agreed to make the film—his first fashion film—and Here Now was born. Released today, the film replicates the original trilogy’s wide-ranging cast, with Jane Levy (Suburgatory), Avan Jogia (Victorious), and Jacob Artist (Glee), starring alongside lesser-known actors like River Phoenix lookalike Jake Weary. Set to a classic Araki shoegaze soundtrack (Slowdive’s “When the Sun Hits,”) Here Now begins with two lustful teenagers sharing a hamburger, like a sexed-up John Waters version of Lady and the Tramp.  The dialogue is throwback West Coast pop: “Is it possible to be so sad that your brain melts?” asks one character. “Alyssa, do us a favor and get some heavy shock treatment,” says another.

“I think this season the clothes match the psychedelic kaleidoscopic viewpoint of the [original] movies,” says Araki of his decision to take on the project.  “If it wasn’t Kenzo, and there was some inappropriate house, I don’t know if I would have done it.”