It was tricky to get to the Université Pierre & Marie Curie last night for Kenzo’s fall 2012 show. The location was out of the way and it was pouring. As weary show-goers hustled in the rain to make it from Galliano to Kenzo on time, I overheard one tired editor groan, “Really, Kenzo?” But really, it was worth it.
Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have only been at the helm of Kenzo for two seasons, but they’ve managed to make it one of the most exciting shows of Paris fashion week. I mean, Diddy was there.
Why was it so exciting? Before we can even get started on the clothes, a bit about the venue. Leon and Lim picked the atrium at the Université Pierre & Marie Curie–a ’70s cement relic painted in pastels–that has never before hosted a fashion show, and they tricked it out in neon light sticks. Editors and celebs were seated in a large square on three different floors (seating was assigned by tier color), peering through pill-shaped windows, wondering just how models would navigate this space. Here’s how: On escalators. Karlie Kloss emerged first, shimmying a bit and smiling as she descended. And then each model followed suit, walking around each floor, and then hopping on the escalator to get to the next. There were 50 looks in all–and that’s a lot. I worried about one particular pair of extra-long wide-leg printed silk trousers getting caught. But the whole show was mishap-free.
We’ve seen a lot of flashy gimmicks on the runways this season, especially in Paris. There was fire at Rick Owens, conveyor belts and a moon at Viktor and Rolf, and lasers at Vivienne Westwood. Using a gimmick, there’s always a risk it will outshine the clothes. This was not the case at Kenzo. Leon and Lim have brought their younger street aesthetic and impeccable eyes to the brand. From the embroidered lion logo knits to the fruit prints (the result of a collaboration with Spanish art director Juan Gatti), to the clever jewelry by Delfina Delettrez (fruit slices and walnuts preserved in resin) everything looked like street style fodder.
Leon and Lim were inspired by interiors for fall. ‘We’ve captured the feeling of rooms, from the bedrooms to the bathrooms to the hallways,” they said in their show notes. You could see it in the marbled prints and sharp angles at points on dresses and inseams on pants were meant to echo “the sharp corners of the interior landscape together with softer curves and accents that make a home.” I went to re-see the collection today and it was even better up close. The prints were fantastic and I was smitten with the knitwear: cropped bubble knit ones, ones embroidered with nubby grapes, and printed ones. But the flirty stiff flared skirts, thick felted wool outerwear, and floor length printed knit dresses were great, too.
It was nice to see a collection in Paris where I wanted to wear just about everything that came down the runway–it’s certainly targeted to the younger set. And the good news on that front, is that Leon and Lim are working to bring down the price point: they’re calling it “accesible luxury.” Hope it is. Because I want some.