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’Kiko in Heaven Mizuhara’ by Alex Leese heaven marc jacobs
'Kiko in Heaven'Photography Alexandra Leese

Kiko Mizuhara tastes the moon in Alex Leese’s intimate new zine

The Dazed 100 photographer captured the model in her Tokyo hometown, as part of a new collaboration with Marc Jacobs’ Heaven line

Since launching just over two years ago, Marc Jacobs’ bratty little sister line Heaven has become a bona fide Gen Z favourite, building a global community of talents riding the foaming crest of youth culture.

With the likes of Bladee, Doja Cat, Pink Pantheress, and Charli XCX all starring in past Heaven campaigns, Jacobs and right-hand woman Ava Nirui are also intent on tapping rising creatives within their many projects. Just last year, the two enlisted Elisa Sue Young Park to work on a zine called Just Like Heaven, which featured DJ Enya Umanzor, and now, former Dazed 100 photographer Alexandra Leese has been called upon to create her very own publication for the brand.

Entitled Kiko in Heaven, the zine stars model and actress Kiko Mizuhara as Leese’s muse. Encapsulating the delicate, intimate nature of the photographer’s aesthetic, the images were shot at Mizuhara’s home in Tokyo and in numerous surrounding locations including Shibuya, Shinjuku, and at her friend’s beach house in a seaside town called Izu. “The themes I often explore are humanity, beauty, the body, the gaze, and sensuality,” says Leese speaking on the series, with the zine capturing exactly that.

Alongside Leese’s photos, Mizuhara wrote a small, heartfelt journal entry in Japanese which reads: “Something I'm feeling now. If you want to love somebody, love yourself first. Only you can hear the voice of your heart. It’s important to trust your gut feeling. We are magical beings. Let all of our lives be very special ones! If you treat others with kindness, you'll be treated the same.” Perhaps most importantly of all, though, the zine includes stickers.

In celebration of its launch, we spoke to Leese about her creative process, working with Kiko, and what heaven means to her.

Hey Alexandra! What was your starting point and inspiration for the zine?

Alexandra Leese: I fell in love with this book of model and actress Mikako Ichikawa by Takashi Homma. I started to think about all the photographers I admire and certain images, zines, or books I love of theirs. They are usually stories of their muses and their everyday surroundings. The images are beautifully raw and intimate, with the occasional humour or surrealness. I loved the idea of working with someone like Kiko, who often embodies so many different characters for her job, and creating images that felt relatable, authentic, and celebrating her just as she is.

Why did you choose Kiko to be the centre of your zine?

Alexandra Leese: Because it's Kiko! 

How did you two meet?

Alexandra Leese: We hadn’t met prior to shooting the zine, but she very sweetly invited me to stay with her to collaborate on the project. We had a lot of fun.

Could you talk us through the process of creating the zine?

Alexandra Leese: It was a very docu-style way of working. We went to her favourite places, met her friends explored the city, hung out at home with her cat Ciccio, and I captured her and the surroundings as we went. The process felt organic, and we left room for spontaneity and creativity. We were constantly bouncing ideas off each other. She’s very creative and we were often on the same page. It felt easy collaborating with her.

In terms of the design of the zine, I worked with art director Jamie Reid. I am really into all the details he added to make it feel special, like the holographic sticker and the pull-out poster. Heaven is the dream client – they gave us a lot of creative control.

The images are so wonderfully authentic, how did you approach the shoot? Was it all shot in one day or are they candids from a period of time?

Alexandra Leese: We shot this over four days. It was our intention that it felt authentic as possible, which is why we didn’t over-plan it. We made sure to stay as true to Kiko and her life as possible.

What emotion did you hope to convey through the images?

Alexandra Leese: I wanted it to be a celebration of Kiko, femininity, authenticity, and beauty in the everyday.

How did you go about selecting the Heaven pieces to include in the images?

Alexandra Leese: Kiko selected her favourite pieces, and we worked together on pairing the looks to the locations.

Lastly, what is your idea of Heaven?

Alexandra Leese: A big bowl of noodles and my cat. Also feeling a sense of inner peace. The world’s chaotic out there!

Head here to grab your copy of the zine, which launches October 25.