Kenzo returns to Japanese roots in history-making moment

Jan 22, 2022, 9:46 PM | Updated: Jan 23, 2022, 11:47 am
A model wears a creation for the Kenzo fall-winter 22/23 men's collection, in Paris, Sunday, Jan. 2...

A model wears a creation for the Kenzo fall-winter 22/23 men's collection, in Paris, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

(AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

PARIS (AP) — It was a fashion history-making moment in Paris for Kenzo on Sunday as it unveiled the debut for its first Japanese designer since house founder Kenzo Takada.

Nigo, 51, thus becomes only the second Asian designer at the head of a European high fashion label, alongside Bally’s Filipino-American Rhuigi Villaseñor. His appointment represents a milestone as the luxury industry wrestles more broadly with questions over racism and diversity.

The show venue of Galerie Vivienne underlined the historic importance of the debut collection, teasing out parallels between the Nigo and Takada. Both are Japanese, both studied at the same Tokyo fashion college decades apart, both have an East-meets-West artistic vision and are considered fashion code breakers. The arcade is the very location where Takada held his inaugural fashion show in 1970.

Nigo’s close friend Pharrell Williams and Kanye West applauded amid the ancient bookshops alongside an audibly enthusiastic audience after his vibrant creations were revealed.

Here are some highlights of Sunday’s fall-winter menswear shows at Paris Fashion Week:

KENZO’S FULL CIRCLE

Nigo first drew global renown with the streetwear brand A Bathing Ape that he began in 1993. Several decades later at the helm of one of LVMH luxury giant’s biggest labels Kenzo, those vibrant colors and streetwise prints were evident in creative fusion with some traditional Kenzo themes such the red poppy print.

Both designers, the house said, had “an understanding of the synthesis between Japanese and Western wardrobe traditions.” Nigo is “envisioning it as a tunnel toward the future and beyond the borders of fashion.”

Thus, exaggeratedly oversize berets mixed with clashing-color prints on silk, standout loose wool coats in maize, printed silk neck scarves, chunky sheeny leather loafers, and high-waisted chino pants. Stripes followed checks, tassels, straps and gold-buckled belts. There were even a series of finely tailored sartorial preppy looks with loose proportions, one of which nicely evoked the cross-over styles of Japanese clothing.

Nigo went all out, sending myriad styles and silhouettes — as well as men and women’s designs — down this unusual runway. Sheer vibrancy was the one unifying theme.

WOOYOUNGMI GOES TO 1920s MOSCOW

Moscow’s glittering St. Basel’s cathedral seeded the colors and styles for menswear brand Wooyoungmi on Sunday to produce a collection that glistened with jewel tones of pinks, greens, blues and oranges.

The novel “A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles was what the South Korean brand said inspired its Russian musing — with references to the ornate city and its famous churches peppering the show.

Scarves with frontal fastenings seemed to be the brand’s take on ecclesiastical headwear, while black patent statement boots that sported a chunky sole were a hip way of managing Russia’s famed winter snow.

Loose proportions, layers and sumptuous material defined the collection that was carefully thought out and executed.

The best moment? When an unexpected decorated strap — evoking the military — appeared out of a beautiful, tailored minimalist bronze wool coat. It was subtle yet effective.

SACAI’S BOOTS ARE MADE FOR POSING

Gargantuan statement boots made from puffer jacket material were the leitmotif of Sacai’s show by Chitose Abe.

With hoops, zippers, laces, ribbing and toggles, the original footwear looked ready for a Moon landing, laying out a fashion forward aesthetic for the fall-winter season.

Elsewhere, an artistic collaboration with Japanese-born, New York-dwelling artist Madsaki produced some food for thought in the form of large spray paint prints and embroideries across sweatshirts and the back of jackets.

“Sheeple Zombies and Kool-Aid,” it read, referencing how people following the trends are unable to think independently.

It was a fine message for the house that prides itself on originality.

Abe was in nostalgic mood too — reworking themes she had introduced in her earliest shows such as lingerie, which was integrated here as bra-cup seams tailored into jackets.

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Kenzo returns to Japanese roots in history-making moment