Hennessy / Akria

Brittany Lawler

Chicago was full of life on Wednesday, September 21. Hennessy, the number one selling cognac in the world, announced their collaboration with the world-renowned graphic artist, KAWS at an exclusive dinner hosted by Blackbird restaurant. Directly following dinner guests were invited to TZAR nightclub, to celebrate the launched of Belvedere Vodka’s special edition Red, where half of the proceeds went towards “The Global Fund to Help Eliminate AIDS in Afria.” Wednesday marked the day Hennessy made its Chicago début, with the brand’s first customized collaborative project in 2011 and Belvedere Vodka’s Red special, as well as AKIRA’s fall fashion show

Hennessy produced 420,000 numbered bottles with KAWS' signature artwork. Walking into the dinning room guests were greeted by models parading around in full bodypaint, which was inspired by KAWS’ artwork, as well as complementing the graphics on the Hennessy bottles. His designs use vibrant colors with urban shapes and textures. The combination of KAWS’ contemporary design with traditional liquor was a successful blend of fine art with commercial imagery and a successful maneuver of popular media iconography. While The teamwork with the New York native provides a new interpretation of cognac.

This will be taken a step further come October; where Hennessy will be utilizing “gorilla marketing” by stenciling promotions on the sidewalks throughout Chicago.

“Hennessy is a brand that not only prides itself on presenting the world with a quality variant, but also on creating out-of-the-box partnerships that heighten our consumer’s experience,” said Rodney Williams, SVP of Business for Hennessy. As a way to connect with consumers KAWS crafted a message that was placed on the back of the bottle; "Friends work music art. It's important to find the right blend."

Blackbird had Chief Mixologist, Lynn House, created six cocktails with Hennessy’s limited edition. The drinks used seasonal ingredients, including fresh mint from House’s very own garden. Blackbird treated guest to a private dining room including a four-course dinner created by Chef de Cuisine David Posey. Each dish incorporated the theme of the night—Hennessy. Although, Posey admits that working with Hennessy was new to him—in spite of the challenge he was able to create a menu that combined earthy and sweet flavors.

Thankfully, Posey was up to the challenge creating dishing like a butternut squash soup with roasted ham and Hennessy V.S. whipped cream and a fermented black bean agnolotti with roasted cauliflower, pea vines, wasabi and of course Hennessy.

The night continued with more dramatics and vibrant colors. AKIRA utilized the lively scenery of TZAR and the space’s striking appearance to create a bold fashion show. The up- beat and heavy bass music created an infectious atmosphere, where people couldn’t stop themselves from staring.

TZAR’s Ultra Lounge housed a variety of people, from all parts of the city. The artistic style of the fashion show was a great complement to Belvedere Vodka’s special edition. Models were strutting down the runway, wearing this season’s most popular trends. You can expect layers, patterns mixed with textures and bold colors blended with earthy neutrals—teal and mustard will be a popular combination this fall.

If every Wednesday night turns out to be half as entertaining, Chicagoans may need to brace themselves.