PFW: KENZO S/S 2015

Sunday morning comes with a round of groans as the partying in Paris last night took its toll. Lines for coffee were long and, wouldn’t you know, the first show of the morning would be in a skating park all the way out in the Parisian suburbs. One has no choice but to get up and make the treck out there, though. Designing duo Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are too good to miss, and their presentations usually come with an environmental message.

Once one actually arrives at the distant location, getting the eyes open isn’t too difficult. Standing in the middle of all the concrete ramps and swoops are a set of giant LED screens. On the screens is a doll-like head set against a background of old radio equipment. A rather creepy sounding voice says, “There is no plan B,” over and over and over and … There’s nothing like being a bit creeped out to totally awaken one’s senses. Maybe that fourth cup of espresso wasn’t such a good idea.

To a soundtrack of white noise, the doll heads crack and crumble. A glowing fireball rises on the screens. This season’s theme: Global warming. Appropriate enough for spring/summer, don’t you think?

As always, no one look defines Kenzo. Some looks are very casual with very traditional silhouettes. Others are minimalist with large, rounded shoulders and blocked structural framing. Still others play to more traditional Asian themes, riffing off the concept of kimonos without actually going there. This season, two things remain consistent across all the looks. First, unless it’s shorts, the look is long. We’ve seen a lot of mid-calf skirts and dresses this season, but some of Kenzo’s looks flirt with the tops of ankles. This applies no matter what the basic style might be.

Second, circular metal detailing is a thing. We’ve seen the use of grommets off and on several times this season, but typically the look is there for a few pieces and then gone. With Kenzo, it became a bit of a game to find where they’d  put the technique on each ensemble. Sometimes the grommets would be very small and from any distance look more like buttons. Other times, they’re not grommets at all but large rings used as the pull on zippers or other fasteners.

Beyond those two elements, though, there is a tremendous amount of variance to this collection, and that fits Kenzo’s huge international market well. The skater look was obvious in some of the overly large flared leg pants and loose fitting tops. Rubberized mesh typically came with a much more fitted silhouette, though, often on curve-hugging dresses or ensembles with pencil skirts. One very attractive piece in blue and white looks at first like an open kimono, but on closer inspection is a very well tailored suit with over-sized coat.

One aspect unique to Kenzo is that there must be a sweatshirt in every collection. These have become collectors items and regardless of the theme or direction for the rest of the season, the sweatshirt with its particular cartoon face has to make an appearance.  This season, the sweatshirt is white on navy blue and was greeted by thunderous cheers and applause when it finally hit the runway.

As models made their circuitous walk around the skate park, they took up station on the top of ramps and various high points. Then, as the last model took her place, the screens erupted into flame, metaphorically consuming them all. The message was certainly not one lost on this very eco-sensitive crowd. Global warming is a huge issue among youth in Paris and Asia.  Carol and Humberto have their audience locked in.

Kenzo is a very diverse line and that large range of choices serves them well in stores around the world. While the skater influence loomed large (literally) through the collection, there are plenty of more traditional looks, even a monochrome white with beautifully applied peplum, that appeals to more traditional buyers. There is no plan B, though. Best pre-order that sweatshirt now.

Photo credit: Guillame Roujas

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