KENZO MENSWEAR SPRING SUMMER 2018
The Kenzo show Bryan Boy decided to skip. Big Mistake for an Asian Influencer. I want to talk about the MENSWEAR SPRING SUMMER 2018, show in PARIS. Yet. I want to talk about what other fashion editors are afraid to talk about. Something other than the clothes. The designers Carol Lim and Humberto Leon set out to be culturally appropriate and cast an entire show filled with Asian models, with black hair styles.
All models was entirely Asian, some coming from Japan, China, and Korea for the show. Which they shared with us was extremely hard to find that many Asian models. With the rise of K-Pop you would think this would not be that hard. I know some of the influencers like Bryanboy, wished he had not been heard telling another editor that he was skipping the show. He should have his influencer points taken away. Since all he talks about these day’s is sex and not fashion.
It was a modern take on the song “Everyone Was Kung Fu Fighting.” Like the designers I grew up on Kung Fu flicks and Wu-Tang. Everyone always talks about who can copy Asian and Black culture. I have to admit no one ever calls out Asians for acting Black or stealing our culture. Why cause they do it with love. As another shade of other, they embrace the culture so we give them a pass.
To me it was a real statement that they cast an entire show with asian models. The styling of the show was also very uptown New York City, you could see inspiration from the streets of Harlem to the Bronx, with a touch of Puffy Daddy, African Dandies, to the Puerto Rican and Dominican hotties that strut their stuff from Harlem to the Bronx. They even got the hair right, from dead straight to a little kink in it. It was all about color ideal for the rainbow of colored people.
It was a fashion spectacle, a play in two acts within the courtyard of a landmark school, scaled new heights. As in, during the interlude separating the men’s and womenswear, aerial dancers rappelled down the wall, each couple performing a vertiginous pas de deux meant to evoke an imagined meeting of two specific muses, Sayoko Yamaguchi and Ryuichi Sakamoto. She, an international supermodel closely connected to Kenzo Takada, who passed away in 2007; he, a contemporary musician whose compositions are simultaneously sensitive and synthetic.
Together, an Asian-inflected portrait merging past with present that motivated Carol Lim and Humberto Leon toward looks that were color-saturated, assertively styled, and downright spiffy. They celebrated youth culture past and present.
“We’ve gone political; we’ve addressed climate; we’ve gone on very topical things, and we wanted to almost step back and really have fun with this collection,” Leon explained.
“I think we use our platform so instinctively for different reasons, and we just wanted to use it for joy.”
As Act One began, guys crisscrossed the vast, patterned-tile courtyard sporting suits made distinctive by stacked pockets and chain ringed around the shoulder. Buttoned-up soon gave way to bold with high-waist, belted pants inspired by ’50s baseball trousers, which defined ultra-slim physiques that caught the eye even more than the vivid patterns supplied by Sakamoto himself. T-shirts fronted with album covers and sport jerseys declaring “Love will make a better you” spoke directly to those who expect the brand to keep turning out graphic, zeitgeist-y collectables. I am so happy they got back to design, aesthetic and style that only people of color can give.
Act Two depicted girls whose looks toggled between vintage and future thanks to deconstructed patchwork dresses and optical separates like frilled bike shorts that looked great under boxy, double-breasted blazers and oversized shirting. The palette had an air of Memphis movement; the attitude felt like the photos of Daido Moriyama. Perhaps mere coincidence, but the vertical-striped socks called to mind Daniel Buren’s famous marble columns in the Palais Royal, not far from the brand’s HQ. Surrounding the collections’ stated muses seemed myriad other references that combined and clashed to dynamic effect.
“We took a really directional casting this season,” said Leon, pointing out the diversity within the framework. This, he said, was their way of truly reflecting the muses as closely as possible.
And when the two collections came together at the end, the two expressions did, indeed, coalesce—but more tellingly, the sheer number of looks (83 in total) was an expression of commercial breadth. As the final show on the Paris men’s calendar, it was a grand finale for a very boring Mens Paris Fashion week. They finally gave us something new and something to talk about. I hope they read this, and know we got it.