This morning, weary-eyed crowds gathered at the Lycée Carnot in Paris – a high school founded in 1869 – to see Kenzo’s SS23. If those in attendance were somewhat jaded by the looming end of fashion week when first arriving, this was soon swept away by the show’s theme. Apparent from the miniature flags adorning each seat as well as the maxi-sized versions hanging from the tall ceiling, saying ‘KENZO 1970’, this was set to be a celebration of youth, playfulness and colour.
Akin to the flags which seem to personify American Summer Camps (from The Parent Trap, at least), these flags matched motifs within the collection: Kenzo logos flipped into tags, and pasted on to varsity jackets, jeans and denim. Kenzo’s signature poppy, re-energised by creative director Nigo, also made plentiful appearances, but this time as plush brooches, embroidery or even as a hat.
Speaking of accessories, the collection also offered a whole new array of voluminous pageboy caps, building on Nigo’s denim iterations for Kenzo last season. However, on the bags front, Kenzo gave us boxy leather briefcase style bags, in navy, yellows and greys. These all had the brand’s red tag, which was incorporated into clothing, too. The collection also placed a definite emphasis on ‘neckerchief’ scarves too – further grounding the drop in the youthful connotations of attending a summer camp.
If the colours were bold and bright – then patterns followed suit: stripes of every thickness appeared alongside gingham, and colour blocking used with the same finesse and deliberate clashing. The same went for texture: contrasting with the smooth leather of the bags was a series of knits: sweater vests (with tie up sides and a ‘K’ varsity logo), long socks styled with shorts (with KENZO PARIS) embroiled on each, and colourful cardigans.
As well as paying homage to traditional house codes and styling, the collection was also infused with a sense of humour: thick wool socks with sliders (both in primary colours), and the soft-toy-stroke-brooches reminded audiences of fashion’s capability to be joyous and light, in an age when lots of attention and accolades are trained on Demna-esque darkness. This notion was further enhanced by the show’s close: after completing the runway, models filed up the school stairs to appear on the balcony, looking down and guests in the bleachers with smiles – waving miniature Kenzo flags in farewell.
Taking guests back to school (with many of the celebrity attendees not that much older than high school graduates), the collection was nostalgic, preppy and definitive, showcasing Nigo’s assured understanding of what Kenzo the house started as. His close attention to historical detail, combined with his career-spanning innovation within the streetwear and fashion sphere at large converged today to produce a refreshing take on an old classic – something recognisably Kenzo, but also markedly Nigo.
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