The Life Aquatic - Marine influences in the SS14 collection
The watery depths of the world’s immense oceans have fascinated us mere mortals for centuries. Sailors went to their graves while trying to tame the wildest seas; artists have painstakingly attempted to capture the brilliant, but ever-shifting shades of blue; and divers continue to be enchanted by the world beneath the surface.
Kenzo Takada felt the lure of the ocean. He crossed countless seas on his maiden voyage to France from Japan, encountering exotic places along the way. The adventure left such an impression on him that it informed the very aesthetic of KENZO itself — that eclectic mix of cultures and influences — and also became a touchstone for many of the brand’s most important archival moments. We’ve found a men’s button-down shirt from the late 1980s that features an oversized fish print, and the wave crest logo that was used for KENZO Jeans. The denim label featured a motif that resembled Japanese artist Katushika Hokusai’s famous woodblock wave print series.
Carol and Humberto have also always been aware of the powerful pull of the ocean. Growing up in California with the immense Pacific Ocean lining the coast, they witnessed the ebb and flow of tides and the delicate world our marine life inhabits within. It’s fitting, then, that the life aquatic was the jumping off point for KENZO’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection. Vibrant blues feature throughout and a wave crest motif has been explored in a myriad of innovative ways. In a touch of irreverence, wide-legged trousers are cut in shimmery lacquered silk — a nod to the wondrous watery world that inspired the collection as a whole.
Fashion can be used as a powerful soapbox for awareness, and Carol and Humberto hope to help bring awareness to the devastating effects of overfishing, helped by a partnership with the Blue Marine Foundation. Bluefin tuna, rainbow trout, marlin and grouper are just four fish species that are currently protected by the foundation, but ongoing support is crucial. The ‘next generation’ eye-catching KENZO fish print was introduced for the Spring/Summer 2014 collection, but this time it is emboldened by an important message — “No Fish No Nothing”.
The Wave Crest
At KENZO, Carol and Humberto have made technical precision and unexpected silhouettes the grounding elements of their contemporary vision. So continues the duo’s unique multicultural mash-up: this season their Americana roots married with the skilled tailoring and construction of the Parisian maison.
For Spring/Summer 2014, Carol and Humberto drew on the perennial summer vibes of their Cali roots: the sun-bright skies of the West Coast, the endless beaches, and expansive Pacific Ocean all set the mood for the collection. As did the easy-breezy sense of style that the locals are renowned for. Skirt lengths skim the upper thigh, t-shirts are cropped, and tailoring is oversized, allowing for a comfortable, casual kind of chic. The season’s must have cropped pants are slashed at the knee to give greater ease of movement and let in that blissfully cool sea breeze. These ‘vents’ carry the breeze through into jackets and dresses as well, details that prove that there is more than meets the eye to the collection.
Such innovations are found not just in the cutwork but also in their exploration of the wave crest — the touchstone for this particular collection. Fabrics ‘swell’ away from the body and the belts, attached to skirts and pants, cinch the garments and add volume to existing layers.
The crest appears throughout the collection in motif form as well, in a variety of incarnations. It’s used on the wave-like hemlines that lap at the models midriffs, shins and thighs on various styles, and is employed for panelling, creating a patchwork effect on some of the dresses and tops that looks like the fabrics are melting into one another. The wave crest is there again in the prints, as a hand-scrawled illustration that captures the movement and flow of water.
…Catch it if you can!
THE GRAND FINALE
Carol and Humberto mined the wondrous work and world of David Lynch for the last two KENZO collections (men’s and pre-Fall) and their infatuation reached a climatic point today at the woman’s Fall/Winter 2014 presentation in Paris. For the grand finale in this cinematic trilogy the duo actually worked with the iconic director himself on the soundtrack, mood, and set design, which included a giant sculpture that dramatically flickered at the end of the runway. “This was always our plan to work with him on the finale, on the ending,” said Humberto excitedly post show.
From the cloak and dagger dark curtained venue, to the maze-like configuration of the catwalk, and the driving kick-drum beat on the soundtrack, Lynch’s touch was distinctly present at every moment. Even the candied popcorn served to guests seemed like a nod to his obsession with Americana. “He really designed the entire thing,” said Humberto. “Including the mirrors, the configuration of the runway, even the way the girls walked… it was meant to feel like they were getting lost.”
Although Lynch’s oeuvre is both varied and extensive, this marks his first foray into the world of fashion shows. “He’s never worked on a fashion show so I think he was really intrigued about the process,” said Carol.
As for the garments, the duo set out to create a collection “though the eyes of David Lynch,” — a wardrobe for the modern Lynchian heroine. Silhouettes and, as ever with Kenzo, prints were the focal points of this collection with the former explored as never before. Volumes were exaggerated and then contrasted to great effect: lean tailored looks were styled with buoyant circle skirts that sat on the waist, fitted bodices had peplums, and sharp tailored suits that should have been slim were made in quilted down. Nothing was as it seemed.
The “tool creatures” first seen in the men’s Fall/Winter 2014 collection reappeared in both print and as embroidered motifs, and other prints were drawn directly from Lynch’s universe — reflections of shattered mountain ranges appeared in acid yellow and a herring-bone flooring pattern was pushed to almost a psychedelic effect.
KENZO regulars Leigh Lezark, Jessica Alba and Mademoiselle Yulia sat front row drawing up their shopping lists — those pochettes inscribed with the words “Forever, no?” will certainly be at the top — and although Lynch couldn't be there another important luminary was present. Founder Mr Kenzo Takada, put in an appearance to show his continued support for the new team. “We really design with him in mind, so it’s nice to see him being excited about what we are doing,” commented Humberto backstage.
"a wholly cinematic experience" BY ALICE CAVANAGH
"There was a distinct chill in the air in Paris this morning, but showgoers kept warm outside the show venue by sipping on cups of black coffee from KENZO coffee mugs. Inside, the scene was set up with wooden structures center stage and graphic markings on the runway. This was an imagined industrial community complete with tin roofs and raw interiors.
Continuing their love for all things Americana this season Carol and Humberto looked to the Pacific Northwest drawing from the region’s industrial work culture and majestic scenery. As such, the KENZO Fall Winter 2014/2015 man they envisaged is a hard-working, yet elegant, man. His uniform is comprised of well-tailored suiting, cosy knitwear, cropped jackets and voluminous pea coats. There were also the essential chunky safety boots and clogs that channelled an urban lumberjack — if ever there was such a thing.
“We wanted to showcase the industrial side of America,” said Humberto of the collection, once the show had wrapped. “Everything is about function; there is that culture or idea that you make clothing for a specific purpose. We really wanted to explore that functionality and thought that there could be beauty and elegance found in the ordinary.”
Of course there was nothing ordinary about the collection, which, in true KENZO style saw a twisted take on traditional ideas. An everyday fabric concept like plaid was turned on its head and reproduced as a digital print, the checks glowing vividly like electrical wiring. Likewise a motif that was featured as both a print and as a jewellery design saw “creatures” being constructed from the essentials found in a workers toolbox: nuts, bolts and nails. Cable knits, a staple for working life in the Northwest, were laminated and featured in an acid lime colour that was reminiscent of the glow of a safety vest.
With the exception of this supercharged hue, the palette for the collection was mostly earthen tones —rich browns in shades of espresso and chocolate, deep blues, grey, charcoal, and to throw things off centre a little, lilac purple. “The brown tones were a starting point for us,” said Humberto. “It was a colour that we have a love/hate relationship with, I really wanted to embrace that colour and its potential elegance and beauty.”
The landscape imagery featured on some of the final outerwear looks broke up the palette nicely. Picturesque scenery featuring trees, a flowing river, the silhouette of a mountain range, and a glowing moon, were rendered in appliqué on a leather bomber jacket and a long tailored coat. Inspired by the panoramic views in the Northwest, in the cowboy country states like Montana and Idaho, these images were unexpectedly cast in cool, midnight tones. The overall effect was a slightly darker mood Kenzo, and the eerie soundtrack by New York musician Fatima Al Qadiri made the show a wholly cinematic experience".