The Forest Beckons

Super-cities, home to super-receptive people, no wonder nature is everywhere in fashion today. We’re dressed head to toe in animal designs (tigers of course, but also pythons, pink flamingos or peacock feathers) and plant motifs, an omnipresent theme from Haute Couture to Ready-To-Wear. Nature is part of the Kenzo DNA: it goes right to the roots of the brand.


 

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Kenzo Takada’s signature "fauna and flora" prints reflected his fascination with the colors and the living energy of nature. As did the name of his first label, "Jungle Jap". The designer brought wanderlust to the 1970s with his cheerful, feel good floral and tree prints, inspired by the naive style of French painter Rousseau. At the time, dreams of travelling the world often remained just that. The modern-day paradise of lush Asian landscapes called to the collective imagination. Kenzo’s prints were a breath of fresh rainforest air that permeated fashion. Style was suddenly as easy as life in its natural state.


The palm tree leaf print emanates that same carefree attitude, now more than ever the stuff of fantasy, a rare species we need to track down. Psychedelic Forest, one key print of the season, is an eco/digital crossbreed that whisks us away to a mysterious destination. So let’s take a walk on the wild side… watch out for leopards!


Our safari begins in the urban jungle, outside the Kenzo store on the Place de la Madeleine in Paris. The storefront display is a vision of greens, blues, ochers and pinks, the rainforest by night, as seen in the Amazon or Thailand. Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have donned their night vision goggles to create their own twist on Kenzo Takada’s much-loved vegetation. Their graphic, unstructured, gif-inspired take on the forest transports us to a modern-day digital fantasy world. Orchid prints feature amidst this tangle of flowers, leaves, palm fronds and ferns. But these are no ordinary flowers. In the contemporary forest evoked here, we are all animal/digital hybrids. It’s Robinson Crusoe 3.0. Just like in the jungle, we have to fight. Just like in the jungle, there are the dominant and the submissive. We dream of escape to the jangàla (the origin of the word "jungle", in Sanskrit), the wild. We clamber aboard our digital ship. This is our lifeline. We take a heady breath. But this modern-day ecosystem, at once virtual and ultra-real, universal and intimately personal, can be suffocating. A splash of greenery and palm trees makes a welcome reprieve.