Presented on the Passerelle Debilly – the footbridge that connects Palais de Tokyo with the Eiffel Tower over the River Seine – the proposal bridges the legacy of Kenzo Takada with the contemporary vision of Nigo, and projects it in the memory of City Pop. The unavoidable radio soundtrack of the designer’s teenage years in 1980s’ Japan, the multi-genre – a mélange of pop, funk and boogie – was accompanied by a graphic preppy and poppy look, the spirit of which lightly infuses the proposition.
The collection stages a number of code-switches between the Japanese and Western wardrobes. The judo uwagi is recontextualised as a chore jacket, and seigaiha – an ancient wave print – is adapted in indigo. The women’s silhouette cuts an intensified elegant line in the lightweight layering of translucent fabrics adorned with reinvigorated archival motifs. The collection features a creative dialogue with the Japanese graphic artist Verdy – a long-time friend of Nigo – who interprets the KENZO logo in his signature swashed font, emblazoned across garments and accessories.
City Pop scored a growing exuberance in post-war Japan, and coincided with some of the most memorable moments in the career of Kenzo Takada. In the eyes of Nigo, the recent reappraisal of the genre around the world – by young generations entirely separated from the time and culture that originally paved its way – serves as a powerful analogy of the relevance of the KENZO legacy in the contemporary mentality. The show’s soundtrack was created by Cornelius – a contemporary, friend and occasional collaborator of Nigo since the mid-1990s – who shares the designer’s appreciation of City Pop in a score that reflects the genre.
The elegant sensibility of the collection is conveyed in ensembles of matching overshirts, tops and trousers in the tradition of Kenzo Takada, and in little workwear jacketand- skirt combos. Super light ankle-length dresses and layered silhouettes framed by columnar cardigan dresses that can be worn buttoned or unbuttoned create a graceful elongated stature. Tailoring constructed in the summery linens favoured by Kenzo Takada proposes a new youthful elegance. Blazers are imbued with the semi-detached sleeves of kimonos, a Japanese approach to cutting reflected in collarless trench coats or lapel-less tailored jackets trimmed with the Verdy KENZO logo. Women’s suiting cuts an oversized line contrasted by delicate colours and graphics from baby pink to laser-printed roses. Judo-style sashiko jackets and varsity jackets fluctuate between the sporty proportions of East and West, while performance and workwear informed by American vintage pieces – such as a kimono-cut down puffer – are fused with the grammar of the Japanese wardrobe.
Themes and motifs
The KENZO logo created by the Japanese graphic artist Verdy re-contextualises the Maison’s emblem in swashed all-over typography in several colour combinations. A Drawn Flowers evokes the hand-drawn florals of Kenzo Takada, while the KENZO Rose – a hyper-real image inspired by an archival knit – is employed in all-over print and placed graphics. A Nigo signature, camouflage morphs with florals in the Flower Camo adapted in several colours.
Japanese for “blue sea and waves”, the scalloped Seigaiha print an ancient map motif in indigo denim and quilting. A pop art Fruit Stickers print adorns shirting and features as standalone prints, while the Drawn Varsity print imitates the doodles of students on 1950s’ American graduation attire. Four heritage patterns employed in menswear reference early Kenzo Takada sketches: the brushstroke-like Shading, the stencil-like Sketch Argyle, the chalklike Check Jacquard, and the chevron-like Herringbone Jacquard. The emblematic Boke flower re-emerges as an all-over floral on devoré.
Materials and techniques
Judo jackets are constructed in the authentic material of natté, a sporty weave employed in workwear takes on the silhouette. The wavy Seigaiha pattern is interpreted in the indigo of denim and in the jacquards of knitwear. The KENZO by Verdy monogram is adapted in prints as well as the jacquards that appear in miscellaneous expressions throughout the collection, from fluid silks and viscose to cottons and wools. Formalwear converts into indigo denim executed in Japanese cloths and washes revived from KENZO Jeans tropes from the 1980s and ‘90s. Leather pieces have undergone surface treatments to evoke the vintage expression of the archetypes that inspired them. Womenswear amplified in elegance is structured in plush or delicate materials like devoré, tulle and broderie anglaise. Knitwear spans graphic jacquards and intarsias, longline sheer alpaca ribs, hand-crocheted striped mouline, and Uroko patchwork informed by the archive.
Cementing the KENZO codes of Nigo, the season’s bag proposal is founded in Japanese tradition, American utility and the Maison’s archives. Small totes and backpacks with leather appliqué logos are based on similar shapes used for carrying sake in Japan, while shoulder bags imitate rice packaging. Judo jackets are rolled up and carried in straps according to tradition. The KENZO by Verdy logo appears on classic backpacks and on KENZO Utility bags informed by the American workwear wardrobe. The utilitarian sentiment is echoed in messengers, backpacks, totes and kendo kit bags constructed in coated and uncoated fabrics. Archival shapes manifest in flap bags and bucket bags, the latter likewise interpreted in hand-crocheted Boke flowers.
The KENZO PXT – meaning Paris x Tokyo – is a new sneaker founded in the East-meets- West genetics of the Maison and the codes established by Nigo. It is constructed in leather and suede with tongue and vamp overlays for reinforcement, and a KENZO diamond-cut outsole warped in the contour of the midsole. The authentic KENZO Dome skate sneaker appears in new colourways in leather and suede, while the KENZO Pace leather runner evolves in mixed colour combinations. The collection proposes a KENZO Kitten Heel in ultra-elegant draped materials alongside flower-adorned clogs. The KENZO Mukluk is a kamik-like performance boot derived from military thermal over-boots, which also inspires KENZO Cozy sandals.
Hats play with magnified dimensions in supersized berets and blown-up military capelines. Informed by 1980s’ street photography, the study abounds in guard caps, bucket hats and topless straw hats, and in baseball caps adorned with the KENZO by Verdy logo. The motif further materialises in metal belt buckles featured alongside tiger head and Boke buckles that riff on the Western wardrobe. Japanese influences manifest in judo belts and traditional Kendo belts functionalised with multi-pockets. Jewellery adapts the KENZO by Verdy logo into pendants on necklaces while Boke enamel ornaments appear on rings and cufflinks. Medals, a staple in Nigo’s collections, take the form of fruit stickers infused with the Maison’s iconography.
For more information, please visit https://www.kenzo.com/