Kenzo Fall/ Winter 2021: Homage to a colorful founder
Few designers left such an indelible mark in fashion as Kenzo Takada, who passed away six months ago, leading his latest successor Felipe Oliveira Baptista to design a collection that felt like a collaborative effort with the founder of the brand.
A Fall/ Winter 2021 collection unveiled on Friday afternoon Paris time, and accompanied by the latest Kenzo seasonal newspaper, with which Oliveira Baptista has marked his tenure at the house.
The designer’s starting point was watching all the recently restored videos of Kenzo shows from 1978 to 1985; the garments' very movements opening up a new perspective into Kenzo’s world for Felipe.
“Everything seemed so organic and effortless, sensual and emotional. In a way, very much the contrary of what so much fashion has become: formulated, safe and predictable,” explained Felipe.
Though the actual 10-minute show video, shot in the Cirque d’Hiver of Paris, began with five nomadic figures marching around a three-meter diameter white disc, a symbol of the lockdown, or confinement as the French term it, which we have all had to endure.
Before the cast suddenly exploded into ecstasy, throwing off their blanket coats and scarves so big they had pockets to reveal a great high-color mash-up of prints; beach stripes; tropical birds; hortensias, gold chains, cocktail glasses and tulips.
In creating the collection, Felipe put together several of the founder’s archive looks with some of his own contemporary ideas and then photographed, collaged, cut and pasted everything into a novel new statement. All his innovations cut into rich flowing shapes and multiple parkas, capes and trenches made in techy fabrics and finishes.
He also mingled in plenty of great clubbing clothes; from bolero-shaped Memphis Belle shearling jackets to organic-looking mesh tops and shirts. And one had to love the sketched outlines of the ever bespectacled Kenzo drawn onto mammoth hoodies.
Throughout his cast dance giddily; too much so. A reminder that while models can look beautiful, they don’t necessarily dance beautifully.
All told, a very fine, and very Kenzo collection, which surely would have pleased Monsieur Takada, an inveterate party animal and possibly the greatest bon vivant in fashion. Two decades before he died, Kenzo sold out very profitably to LVMH, allowing him to enjoy the most opulent and comfortable of retirements.
“Although confined in Paris, between home and work, we travelled in our minds, creativity as a form of antidote to our current situation. Creation as our new elixir. Going places, always. The magic and beauty of travel, a tribute to nomad peoples and minds,” opined Felipe Baptista in a self-penned editorial within the latest issue of his Kenzo newspaper.
A skillfully assembled selection of images that included Hans Feurer 1975 and 1983 Kenzo campaigns; Robert Thuillier shots of a farmer on a mule in the Algarve, from the designer’s native Portugal; collages and scraps of wallpaper and kicking fabric all contained in an 84-page newspaper made of 100% recycled French paper. Its back page an Andy Warhol Polaroid of the smiling Kenzo.
“Kenzo stood for freedom, joy, diversity, love of nature and creating harmony out of contrasts…. A visceral yearning for life. A visceral lust for freedom; Kenzo Takada always,” wrote Felipe.
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