LONDON--Usually when you turn 40 in the fashion business the only one in the know is your Mom--and you've got her protecting that little gem of a factoid like it's a government secret. Those rules don't apply though, and rightly so, when you're Parisian fashion label Kenzo. Four decades after Kenzo Takada became the first Japanese designer to bring his sensibility and sophistication for textiles to the French capital, the maison Kenzo is celebrating its coming-of-middle-age at every chance. In London Friday, the Victoria & Albert Museum played host to free and public live catwalk shows of Kenzo's SS 11 collection in the fittingly dramatic Raphael Gallery. Their Fashion In Motion series has previously presented shows by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Giles Deacon, Christian Lacroix and Stella McCartney.
At the hands of Antoinio Marras, who became creative director at Kenzo in 2008 after being enlisted as womenswear designer in 2003, Kenzo has continued its tradition of East meets West design. For this S/S 11 collection it was sweeping layers of bouncing chiffon topped by massive turbans in harmonizing prints, a styling element unseen on their Paris Fashion Week catwalk and inspired by an imaginary Japanese traveler who stumbles upon the visual richness of Marras' native Sardinia. Cherry blossom florals and indigo batik waves were layered under sheer windows of velvet devoree, shimmering seed beads and delicate applique. The heaping tumble-wash of turbans were balanced with the occasional floating waist hem which bounced around the slender models like a hoola-hoopping booty. Shoes were modern, candy colored versions of the traditional Japanese 'geta' and were paired with obi bows and long printed gauze gloves. Absolutely lush, light as sunshine and cleverly gathered the Kenzo esthetic of relaxed elegance looks set to carry on, full speed ahead for many decades to come.