It’s fitting that this lunar year is The Year of the Tiger, as it’s also gearing up to be The Year of Kenzo, too. Since Nigo’s appointment as creative director of Kenzo last year, the fashion community has been waiting with baited breath to see what he would bring to the house. Taking over the historic label from the late Kenzo Takada was no easy feat – yet Nigo’s background as a streetwear guru and celebrated fashion mogul was bound to bring a fresh perspective to the brand.
It was these two elements combined that worked to make Kenzo’s AW22 collection so special – Nigo’s clear and considered appreciation for Kenzo as a brand, as well as his streetwear-focused design capabilities. Captured aptly in the collection’s title, ‘REAL-TO-WEAR’, Nigo managed to fuse the classic Kenzo DNA with updated silhouettes, motifs and design techniques.
These considerations were evident in every choice for Nigo’s first fashion show. Kenzo Takada’s first show was held in the Galerie Vivienne, the arcade in which his first shop, Jungle Jap resided. Nigo chose to stage this season’s show in the same venue, five decades on, in a show of respect and awareness to the founder’s legacy. However, the venue choice also highlighted his awareness of his place in the industry: his designs are as at home in the ‘streets’ of Paris as they are on the catwalk of Paris Fashion Week – and here those two are one and the same.
The collection itself was varied and versatile – Nigo created a whole Kenzo wardrobe, should you wish to wear it. There was a military feel to the pieces and show, perhaps thanks to the legion of Kenzo-branded berets and aviator jackets, as well as the distinct red blankets which lined the runway on the laps of front row attendees. With an audience including Nigo’s friend and colleague Pharrell, as well as Ye, Julia Fox and Tyler, the Creator, the fashion and celebrity world turned up and out to watch the proceedings in Paris.
Old Kenzo structures including chunky knits, snoods and the poppy motif made a return for AW22, alongside a legion of reversible silk bomber jackets which highlighted the dual geographical heritage of the house. Japanese lines and silhouettes filtered through to the designing here too, with kimono-like jackets and tops deriving from Samue – the attire of potters in Japan.
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Workwear, in the form of utilitarian uniforms, lots of double denim looks, as well as shirts and sweater vests were also a key theme. Tailoring wasn’t ignored in the lineup either, but we saw softer lines, pleats and seams than the traditionally tight tailoring found elsewhere in Paris this week. Dubbed by Nigo as “impractical workwear”, the overall effect was of confidence: the sentiment of a relaxed, fun approach to fashion that seems to have been lost in the industry’s insular and hype-driven culture at the moment.