KENZO MEN’S FALL 2012
When Takada Kenzo started his fashion line in 1970 after graduating from Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College and moving to Paris, his trademark was colorful fashion made with bold and inexpensive fabrics, which you could buy at his store Jungle Jap at Galerie Vivienne in Paris. Since his retirement in 1999, the brand has undergone a dramatic transformation under various designers, the last one being Antonio Marras, who steered the brand towards a high upscale designer level not envisioned by its founder.
It was initially surprising when LVMH announced that Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, owners of retail establishment Open Ceremony, would take the reigns at Kenzo; but the decision now makes complete sense. Having opened a store less than a year after presenting his first show, Mr. Kenzo was as much a retailer as a fashion designer. He knew his products and the customers he wanted to buy them. The same can be said of Leon and Lim.
Their first full menswear show took place at a RATP metro depot, where models walked around and down a series of trains tracks lit by multicolored lights. Mr. Leon and Ms. Lim presented an expansive range of clothes for the modern urban man on the move. They struck a difficult balance–offering essential men’s wardrobe needs like jackets, suits, outerwear and knitwear, all while paying respect to the Kenzo heritage. The use of paisley prints colors like orange, lime green, forest green, burgundy and purple paid homage to Kenzo’s famous use of bright colors.
Pricing the collection at retail will be critical to the success of Kenzo. Providing quality and well designed clothes in good fabric has always been a challenge: Too much quality and it’s too expensive; but too cheap a fabric and it’s trashy and low-end.
“The price of the collection is moderate,” Sara Lerfel, the owner of Colette in Paris, told me as we sat waiting for the Thom Browne show to start on Sunday evening. She had bought items from the women’s presentation last September and has ordered this collection as well. “It’s a great price for the younger customer entering the designer market,” Ms. Lerfel said just before the light dimmed.