Kenzo: Nigo debuts with flowers and finesse
This Paris menswear season’s big debut was by Nigo at Kenzo on Sunday morning, and the Japanese cult designer’s first collection for the Japanese-born house was certainly made with finesse and a floral flourish.
Flowers at the heart of this brand, most memorably in the popular mind with Kenzo Flower, whose signature carnation appeared throughout this show.
Staged just down the street from Kenzo headquarters, inside Paris prettiest passage, the 199-year-old Galerie Vivienne, the show attracted a large mob of fashion fans and Instagram freaks. Who went into an overdrive when Kanye West and Nigo’s design partner Pharrell Williams arrived, even if by now the pair seem like LVMH rent-a-rappers, seeing as they attend so many of the conglomerate’s shows.
A further feeding frenzy occurred inside the gallery, as paparazzi scrambled for shots of the celebs, and security staff fought to clear the runway. In a generous gesture, Nigo provided all guests with a new red-and-white logo blanket, which most people needed. Despite the bitter cold, and even wearing a PPF8 mask, one could still discern the sweet smell of ganja as the audience calmed down and the first looks appeared.
Nigo smartly played on all the classic themes of Kenzo. Kicking off with fab plaid blanket coats for girls and guys in a co-ed show. Before showing scores of florals; from naive print denim and scarves; funky blue carnation bovver boots; and utterly charming silk gilets for cool, young ladies.
Best of all he captured the way the founder managed to incorporate Japanese sensibility with Parisian style, like pinning faux military medals on multiple medals. The city’s most charming military medal store just happens to be 100 yards away in Palais Royale.
The playful tradition of Kenzo Takada was also maintained in series of cool stencil prints of fashion sketches, and all manner of great berets, from golfer to grand artist, to dandy military.
Nigo joined Kenzo with a sterling reputation, thanks to his insider urban marque A Bathing Ape. He has also made collab’ collections with Fendi and Louis Vuitton, flagship LVMH brands. It was Nigo who introduced Virgil Abloh to Michael Burke, leading to Abloh’s eventual appointment at Vuitton. And, in effect, Nigo was the first DJ to launch a credible fashion marque, and thus the precursor of a whole movement.
Nigo’s predecessors at Kenzo had been criticized for reducing it to a tiger print brand, the big cat was so ubiquitous on sweatshirts. But the new designer at least took the tiger somewhere new with couture-like baseball jackets and chunky après-ski sweaters.
The house of Kenzo was once reputed for its tailoring, a tradition lost in the past decade. So, it was admirable to see Nigo send out natty Prince of Wales, plaid and chalk-stripe suits. That said, quite why he then hid most of them under mini kimonos was fairly dumb. Moreover, a whole series of bulbous padded parka – an appalling trend on many catwalks this season - were an aesthetic-rights offence.
That said, this was a powerful first display from Nigo, who riffed on the DNA even as he added his own DJ twist. Perhaps not a home run, but a great start nonetheless.
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