PFW: KENZO S/S 2014

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I wake up on a Sunday morning I’m rarely in the mood to get out and travel any distance. Yet, Kenzo’s creative team, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon insisted that everyone not only get out of their comfortable hotel rooms, but travel to the Parisian suburbs, an area of town that doesn’t have the best reputation, to a relatively new, state-of-the-art film studio, Cite du Cinema. Fortunately, they were serving coffee right outside the door.

This is an immense facility with 60-foot high ceilings. The show takes place in the main hall. Scattered down the middle of the runway, seemingly haphazardly, are speakers. I’m expecting a very loud show. The show is running almost an hour late. I’m on my third cup of coffee.

Then, with a sound like thunder, water begins to fall from the ceiling at the far end of the runway. Those speakers in the middle of the floor suddenly come alive, not just with sound, but with water dancing up from them. One by one, models step onto pedestals behind the waterfall. then, in turn, come around the water to make their way down the catwalk. The effect was absolutely brilliant.

Kenzo is a youthful, sporty line looking to make a strong eco statement without getting all hostile and in your face. Both designers were raised in the LA area and admitted that geography influences their style choices. “We like the idea of fusing classic tailoring with beach living,” they said after the show.

First looks down the runway definitely grab that beach feeling, a black bandeau top over bagging calf-length pants with sparse white blocks for contrast. The minimalist pattern soon gives way to the collection’s dominant print, a cross hash that resembles heavy rain. We see it first in white on black, but it is at its best in blue on white, which is used frequently. A couple of fish-based designs are introduced mid-way, but they have a tendency to come off a bit busy, depending on the piece.

Silhouettes stay loose and flowing. There are plenty of sleeveless pieces with short skirts or shorts, and a good supply of over-sized jackets to compliment. Suit sets are belted, which is nice if one works in an office where snagging might be an issue. For a beach-originating collection, it is surprising how many pieces are office appropriate.

Winning, hands down, the popularity contest is this season’s Kenzo sweatshirt, a blue and white aqua design with the words, “No Fish, No Nothing” in large letters and other slogans such as “80% of all life is in the ocean” scattered around in smaller print. The label has partnered for this season with the ocean conservancy Blue Marine and proceeds from the sales of the sweatshirt will greatly benefit the charity.

I know I’m running long, but I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t mention the environmentally friendly technofabrics at use in this collection. Soft, wearable, looking a bit like neoprene but not, and then given a plastic-like cover in the final pieces so that they are genuinely appropriate for being caught out in the rain, these are the fabrics I hope we see in greater abundance over coming seasons. If fashion is to be ecologically sustainable, we must get away from fabrics involving high chemical processing that produces toxic runoff.

Kenzo was definitely worth getting up a bit early and making the extra effort. It is nice to know one can be ecologically aware and still look good at the same time.

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