PFW: KENZO F/W 2014

While Indianapolis and much of the Midwestern US is dealing with ice and snow this morning, Paris was an almost balmy, by comparison, 54 and sunny. Sunshine means squinted eyes and lots of sunglasses as Saturday night’s partiers made their way dockside for Kenzo’s fall/winter 2014 show. Creative directors  Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are known for taking care of their customers and this morning was no different as Kenzo branded coffee and caramel popcorn greeted those who entered. Looking back, though, one might see the coffee and popcorn as bait for entrance into this David Lynch-designed experience that is almost certainly to cause a couple of nightmares later.

“The whole world is wild at heart and weird on top,” was what the designers’ notes said and from that was launched a very colorful and dramatic line of clothes that are likely to keep conversations lively in cafes around Paris for at least a couple of days, which is an eternity in fashion time. Set against Lynch’s surreal-to-the-point-of-frightening set and music (yes, he wrote the music as well), Lim and Leon presented a line of print-heavy clothes that mix the trim and fit with sparks of volume to create silhouettes that are familiar in their individual pieces, but new in the way they’ve been styled together. Several of the pants and tuxedo-styled jackets are very finely tailored to stay close to the body. At times, some of the suits almost come off as formal. Juxtaposed against that look, however, are voluminous overcoats, tunics, and bell-shaped skirts with enough structure to them as to push their own way through a crowd. Next to rib knit column dresses came biker jackets with their collars exaggerated. There’s also touches of quilting and unique wraps on some of the over coats.

Perhaps the most unique touch, what some people are referring to as spikes, is the 3D bead work on some of the latter pieces. These rows of beads stand out from the garment like an endless line of translucent Toblerone, their triangle shapes perhaps emphasizing the need for some personal space. While the bead effect is not too terribly large, it is prominent enough to give one pause before giving the wearer a hug for which they may not have asked.

Prints are a wild and weird mix of broken glass and abstract tool designs, which fits well with Lynch’s strange world. Done in bold colors that have been given names with Twin Peaks references such as Wild Lula Lime, Midnight Dorothy, and Laur Lilac, the prints are impossible to miss, even with one’s eyes closed. The images become instantly burned into one’s retinas so that the effect is inescapable. Wearing one of these pieces guarantees that one is going to be noticed and remembered.

Now, flash forward six months, if you will, to when these styles hit stores, presumably without the David Lynch-inspired display. Get away from the hype and the drama, and there are a lot of these pieces one is likely to find wearable. On their own, the looks are actually quite attractive. I would back off some of the claims I’ve seen of these being work appropriate, but the separates especially can be nicely integrated with one’s existing wardrobe.

How cool was this morning’s show? Well, consider that the label’s publicity shy founder, Takada Kenzo, actually showed up for this one and sat on the front row, something he hasn’t made a habit of doing. When asked afterward what he thought of the collection, he smiled and said, “It was very nice.” Given his reputation for frankness, that’s quite a compliment. You’ll want to be sure and check out this Kenzo line when it hits stores this fall.

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