25 YEARS OF KIDS, TIMELESS REBELS
A quarter of a century after its launch, Kids continues to evoke the same feelings. Cheeky, transgressive and specially rude, what had started as the portrait of a generation ended up being a style reference that comes back at the same rhythm as fashion.
The cast was composed of teenagers with no experience in cinema, who sometimes played roles inspired by themselves. Harold Hunter, a skate prodigy who became mayor of the New York's skaters, attracted many of Washington Square Park's regular kids. Like Harold, many of those skaters appear in Kids with their real names. For the girls it was a little different. Chloë Sevigny became the protagonist almost at the last moment, but she already had some experience as a model and in Sonic Youth videos, while Rosario Dawson was discovered while singing at her house's door and her only public appearance had been in Sesame Street, a series miles away from the film's sub-world. They were two exceptions in a choral film in which everyone was clear about their points of reference.
The screenplay author was Harmony Korine, the only skater who dared to approach Larry Clark. A 50-year-old man filming a group of teenagers might have looked suspicious. Korine, a film student, knew who Larry Clark was and what he needed. There are many style references in the script, but very little data on the clothes. Larry Clark wanted to film following a documentary style, everything had to seem real and the lack of budget made the process easier. Most of the actors wore their own clothes, Dickies pants, Zoo York shirts, Converse Chuck Taylor and what is probably Supreme's first film appearance. Without any experience with skaters, the costume designer Kim Druce-Sava tried to keep up. Supreme was one of their affiliated brands and let them use material to be shown on the screen. The Supreme store was a short walk from Washington Square Park, the inspirational center of Kids. Part of the cast did not have a fixed address, so the production used to distribute beepers... or simply go to the Supreme store and wait there for the actors to appear.
Under Kim Marie Druce's supervision, Kids' style was based on functionality and was meant to be a fashionable response, but eventually became an unexpected trend for brands outside the skateboarding world. Chloë Sevigny went to X-Girl (the brand of Kim Gordon and Mike D) before becoming the muse of Prada. Rosario Dawson, the least connected to the skater universe, founded Studio 189, a brand very different from those seen in Kids. Harold Hunter and Justin Pierce were part of Zoo York, a skater brand that already had Jefferson Pang and Peter Bici, two fleeting appearances in Larry Clark's work. The protagonist Leo Fitzpatrick appeared in Supreme and Palace campaigns, while the screenwriter Harmony Korine directed those by Gucci. JW Anderson publicly declared his passion for Kids and for the work of Larry Clark, with whom he collaborated periodically. Even during the Kiris Van Assche era, Dior Homme commissioned a short film directed by Larry Clark in which skaters and models mixed together. Bems was inspired by Tulsa, Clark's first book, while Wacko Maria took the opposite path, offering him a book. To celebrate the film's 20th anniversary, XLarge launched a commemorative edition and Supreme teamed up with Comme des Garçons to remember Harold Hunter. Names and collabs aside, the extra baggy trousers, the loose T-shirts and Sevigny's hairstyle were copied to exhaustion. Moving away from fashion, a trained eye will see the details of Kids not only in the works of his disciple Harmony Korine, but also in those of Spike Jonze or Gus Van Sant's and of a new generation of directors.
Kids' style was truly the style of a youth. Fashion, a vampire of eternal youth, has transformed many of these trends into an urban standard. The clothes were in and out of fashion, but Kids left us with a timeless rebellion.