It’s official Nigo has taken over the reins from Felipe Oliveira Baptista as KENZO‘s Creative Director. He debuted a collection titled, “REAL-TO-WEAR.” NIGO’s Fall/ Winter Women’s and Men’s Show with a star-studded FROW. The house also made history as he is the first Japanese designer to head the house since its founder Kenzo Takada.
Pharrell Williams was here, wearing some cute diamond- and emerald-edged sunglasses he’d designed for Tiffany. Alongside him Kanye West and Julia Fox doubled up in double denim (hers by Daniel Roseberry at Schiap). Pusha T, Shygirl, J Balvin, Gunna, Big Matthew, Sik-k, and Tyler, the Creator were in the FROW. This made for an extremely strong crowd at a Sunday morning show that effectively marked the end of this Omicron-quieted season. We all need some fresh fashion in our lives. Mask or no masks.
In part, they were here for the house of Kenzo. All of them (and us) were seated in the beautiful but chilly (and suddenly weed-fumed) Galerie Vivienne. It was here in 1970 that a small gallery unit with cheap rent was snapped up by 31-year-old Kenzo Takada, who had arrived circuitously from Tokyo five years previously with the dream to emulate Yves Saint Laurent and become a fashion designer.
KENZO FALL 2022 Collection
Shortly after moving in and painting the interior after Rousseau, Kenzo threw his first show here under the name Jungle Jap (which he changed once discovering the pejorative weight of ‘Jap’ in the US). The collection was cut and sewn and painted with fabrics brought from a Montmartre market.
As Kenzo later recalled: “I was looking for some kind of identity as an outsider, so I wanted to bring something very Japanese into it, and that meant textiles with a lot of colour and pattern.”
By 1993, when he sold his company for $80 million to what would become LVMH, Kenzo had developed that formula to become one of the most beloved and distinct designers operating in Paris. He sadly passed away in late 2020 after being laid low by Covid, but had continued to work on new projects— including a really excellent retrospective book of sketches and photography—until shortly before.
Let’s drop some tea: for the last few seasons, Kenzo has been kind of blah. Yes, the entire world had Kenzo-coded tiger sweatshirts produced under the excellent Carol Lim and Humberto Leon. In Paris, it went from cool to hot to played out. But since their time here ended in 2019 the house is boring and now it has the street creed it needs to stay alive in the rebirth error of streetwear, with logo accessories to lettermen jackets to suits. And yes we also see the baggy jean making a comeback this season.
KENZO FALL 2022 Collection
Back in 1970 (the year Nigo was born) Takada presented his first fashion show in the Galerie Vivienne on the backdrop of his new shop, Jungle Jap. Five decades later, Nigo makes his own debut for KENZO in the same arcade, “envisioning it as a tunnel toward the future and beyond the borders of fashion.” We can see he is paying homage to the year the label was born and the year he was born.
Rather than developing a collection that is wholly street or luxurious, Nigo has taken a different path, taking the Kenzo story as his point of departure. Speaking to Vogue recently he explained,
“Seeing the complete Kenzo archive, especially the early pieces from the ’70s, has kind of changed my perception about the entirety of the brand. Previously my perception of it was based very much in the 1980s designer fashion boom that I experienced when I was young in Japan.”
Combing the KENZO archives, he came across pieces he had never seen before. His approach to the FW22 show showed a heightened study of pieces over looks, with Souvenir bomber jackets inspired by those historically commissioned in kimono fabrics by the American occupying forces in Japan and Nylon aviation jackets lined in shearling which continue the military theme.
The presentation today saw the BAPE founder define his vision for the luxury fashion house: “a meeting between the Maison’s heritage and his own contemporary codes.” Takeda’s three-button jacket enters into a dialogue with Nigo’s affinity for the subversive sartorialism of British subcultures. Meanwhile, sturdy coverall jackets and workwear emblazoned with the archival Poppy Print reflect Nigo’s idea of “impractical workwear.”
The show soundtrack features an exclusive preview of the designer’s upcoming album I Know Nigo with contributions from A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, Pharrell Williams, Pusha T, Teriyaki Boyz, Tyler, the Creator and Lil Uzi Vert.
Do what do you think? Hot or Not?