Kenzo Goes Back to its Nomadic Roots Drawing on Kenzo Takada’s early years in France and his gradual discovery of French fashion, Felipe Oliveira Baptista showed a strong collection, which had a nomadic spirit
Speaking to an audience of faithful fans and selected press backstage, Felipe Oliveira Baptista spoke about the meaning behind his first collection for Kenzo. “It was this idea of a young Japanese man discovering France for the first time, realizing the promise and opportunities it could bring to his life.” The designer used outerwear as his main focus, envisaging his men and women as restless wanderers, sheltered by the clothes they wore. If protection is becoming a key theme in Paris, the designer was also interested in the idea of transformable garments, underlining their functionality and ease. Several coats were therefore reversible, while sportswear was gently pushed aside to give way to a more structured and elegant silhouette. Double-breasted coats were long and sharply tailored, while some of the trench coats and leather pieces came across as nods to the constructive genius of Claude Montana and Anne-Marie Beretta.
This late 1970s artsy feeling kept returning on some of the looks, such as tent-like dresses adorned with the brand’s signature tiger or quilted coats lined with speckled wool. The overall effect was protective, covered, sometimes strict -and not exactly sexy- but there was a cerebral sense of sensuality that felt right for the House and today’s world. After all, Oliveira Baptista knows French fashion inside out and his reinterpretation of certain iconic designers never felt retro or forced.
What the current Kenzo customer will certainly bond with was his clever use of revamped camouflage prints, which looked new and exciting, as well as a loose and generous silhouette. Still, the collection didn’t qualify as sportswear either, given the intricacy of some of its pieces and the refinement with which they were made. Some of the designer’s sense of detailing and deluxe fabrications came to the fore during the show, as well as his understanding of current gender binaries being quite obsolete: several pieces could be worn by men and women alike, hinting at emancipation, ease, equality and freedom.
This was a rather positive, boundaries-pushing and life-affirming message Kenzo Takada himself would surely approve of.
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