FLORENCE–Food might be just as important as fashion for Carol Lim and Humberto Leon.
The hit-makers behind Opening Ceremony and, since fall 2012, Parisian house Kenzo, always find a way to incorporate food into their presentations. (For their very first Kenzo womenswear show they flew Magnolia bakers from New York to Paris to make sure every guest had a cupcake on his/her seat.) So when Pitti Uomo came calling to ask Kenzo to be the featured menswear designer at the prestigious trade show, Lim and Leon went with their guts.
Pitti guest designers are essentially given the keys to Florence when it comes to picking a venue to show their collections. Lim and Leon could have had their pick of any of Florence’s beautiful centuries-old palazzos to show off their fall 2013 menswear collection for Kenzo, but instead, they picked the drafty abandoned metal upper floor of the Mercado Centrale, Florence’s main market. (Guests were given Kenzo logo blankets and handwarmers.)
“We thought, when we come to Florence, what do we want to do first? For us, coming to find food in the marketplace is really what we wanted to do,” said Lim after the show. “I think [the market] is a good starting point for the collection because the collection is based on the sky and all the ancient mythologies in the celestial. Food is often used as an offering for these mythical gods and goddesses.”
It’s a lofty and abstract story that plaid out quite literally in the clothes. While in seasons past, Lim and Leon have been inspired by the jungle, a Kenzo trope from the ’70s, for Fall 2013, the designers turned their attention to the skies. The camo prints that dominated the collection were actually clouds if you looked closely. Sky blue was the dominant color. One fluffy, fuzzy dress coat looked unmistakably cloud-like.
But despite the baby blue palette, models still looked tough. Like tricked-out boy scouts, they were “always prepared” with sturdy hiking backpacks and hard shell cross body bags by Boblbee that we’re sure we’ll be seeing on every street style blog in the coming months. Lapel-less jackets in moleskin and felted jacquards cut a severe silhouette that was meant to evoke “an Asian warrior.” For the finale, models struck poses and held them, their gazes fixed long enough for editors and buyers to take close-up Instagram snaps.
As for the requisite “it-item,” something Lim and Leon are better than anyone at creating, look for logo sweatshirts only with the Kenzo tiger replaced by fantastical sky-bound creatures like dragons or a two-headed monster.
Still, at the end of the day, it all came back to food for Lim and Leon.
After the show finished, guests filed downstairs to shop a Kenzo pop-up store shilling logo tees and camo sweatshirts nestled among the dried fruits and salamis of the actual, still humming mercado. A handy notecard on each guest’s seat pointed out Lim and Leon’s favorite food items at various stalls (examples: “Bronzini: Best salame in the world!” and “Guinti Emilio: I love tripe and this is the best looking I’ve ever seen!”).
Click through to see the rest of the collection.