PFW: Kenzo S/S 2017

Kenzo S/S 17
Kenzo Spring/Summer 2017. Photo credit: Kim Weston Arnold.

I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times this season how I wouldn’t be surprised if someone sent a totally nude model down the runway. I was wrong. I was surprised.

Okay, technically, the models were covered in a very light layer of body paint so they weren’t really nude. Neither were they on the runway. They were posed as sculptures along and at the ends of the runway. They came in a variety of sizes. Some were even high on stilts, matching the real sculpture of the building. There were both male and female statues, and no, there was no fig leaf. The mood they set was striking, artistic, and strangely reflective as one considered the relationship our clothes have with our bodies.

Creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have created some pretty impressive runway sets before. They’ve also created some especially striking advertisements, particularly one directed by Spike Jones, for their perfume line. With this evening’s show, though, they’ve gone where I don’t recall anyone going before. Certainly, there’s plenty of talk about the show in social media and opinions are, unsurprisingly, mixed. However, if the goal is to get people talking about the brand, and it is, then the tactic was highly successful.

The clothes, too, are likely to be highly successful. The collection hits several of the popular trends from the season: large, rounded shoulders, high waists, metallic fabrics, short skirts, enveloping silhouettes. Denim separates with large external pockets were able to not look baggy or like something from the discount bin at a military surplus store, something most designers haven’t managed. Deconstructed camo prints made the pattern interesting rather than mind-numbing. Graphic prints based on Instagram photos were colorful and compelling. If one likes these looks I suggest pre-ordering as soon as possible.

Makeup also drew a lot of attention given that there actually was noticeable makeup brushed wide out from the eyes. So many looks this season, as with last season, went with a false bare face look that depends heavily on a careful application of foundation and concealer, among other things. Seeing a vivid read on the model’s faces added to the artistic ambience of the entire presentation and was a welcome reminder that women have options for their face as well.

Will the show actually achieve the goal of getting us to think about the artistic nature of our bodies and how we drape cloth over and around them? I’m not going to guess at that answer. I do know that Leon and Lim have everyone in Paris talking about them this evening and most are saying good things. I think that has to go in the books as a win.

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