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”.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: FADED SHIRT AND SKIRT
The long pleated skirt has been a staple for KENZO throughout the years, and the beautiful light wool of this one kept it both comfortable and practical - our favorite combination! But this skirt came with a matching top, like another staple combo, this time with a frumpy-cool early '80s blouse. The acid dipped-like color fades into the waist from the top and then reverses back into color down the skirt, adding a perfect finishing touch to the silhouette and making this another covetable piece from the KENZO archives.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: PLEATED SKIRT AND TOP
This pleated skirt and top combo from the Kenzo Spring Summer 1976 collection is another integral piece of the Kenzo heritage, a perfect example of Kenzo's full embrace of the crazy and colorful 70s. The top with its thin shoulder straps and tasseled sides; the floor-length, drawstring skirt with the exposed middrift; the bright, sometimes harmonious, sometimes clashing color scheme; the layers of pleated everything; It might all say hippy-dippy 1970s (and we mean that in the best way possible) but look at those colors and those tiny little pleats.
There’s an attention to detail and materials - they are hand-crafted tassels after all - that makes this one stand out, even in the vast (and vastly colorful) Kenzo archives.
FROM THE ARCHIVES : BLUE FISH SHIRT
This blue men’s button up shirt from Kenzo’s Spring Summer 1988 collection has a detailed fish print that recalls again the woodblock prints of historical Japan, this time with in the more realistic, scientific style of Japanese artists. But the fish are also an interesting twist on the oversized prints popular in the 80s and the shirt as a whole became something reminiscent of a Hawaiian shirt, the fish printed on a gorgeous blue, light cotton. All these fun and disparate influences together created something both unique and perfectly of-the-times for 1988.
FROM THE ARCHIVES : THE FALCON WAVE JACKET
We’ve been digging through the Kenzo Archives to find some of the most fun and crazy pieces from deep in Kenzo’s history to share here on the blog.
One of the first things that caught our eye was this double breasted jacket from the Spring Summer 1981 collection. The crashing wave print on the front of this women's jacket continues around the sleeves and across the back, where a blue falcon is flying so low it’s almost becoming one of the waves. This piece inspired by 18th century Japanese woodblock printing styles, in particular that of the artist Katsushika Hokusai and his famed painting “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa”. It’s a perfect example of Kenzo’s early days, focused on combining Japanese and Parisian styles together to create something completely original.