Oregon and Washington states are renowned for their spectacular landscape of rugged coastline, lush green interior, shadowy forests and epic peaks. David Lynch, whose oeuvre was the core inspiration for the Fall 2014 collections, set his cult 1990 television series Twin Peaks in a fictional lumber town of the same name in Washington, and this print is a tribute to Twin Peaks’ weird and unexpected elements. The Peaks graphic also resembles a double-gabled house, reflecting the eerie double nature of the fictional community: Twin Peaks is an all-American town of homely cherry-pie values, and yet the site of an ambiguous, ancient evil.
The color-palette of the Peaks print reflects the twilight tones of this moody, misty and at times mystical region. Deep contrasted shadows behind the Peaks play on the effect of cinematic lighting, as found in the Doors print, another one of our prints of the season.
The deeply contrasted colors of the Doors print play on the effect of harsh cinematic lighting and the disturbing, unnatural shadows and highlights that it produces. Like many of the other prints in the collection, Doors is a subtle optical illusion that reflects the offbeat atmosphere of the collection as a whole.
(Liquid) Fire Walk with Me - a history of Neon
America’s long fascination with illumination, - neon and otherwise - finds genesis within that outstretched, verdigris-hued hand of Ms. Liberty herself. Gazing omniscient down across New York Harbour, and up from on-high over numerous questionable commemorations, Liberty Enlightening the World - her torch grasped aloft forever before the nation - illuminates for all, America’s unassailable independence and freedom.
Yet Neon herself did not originate upon these gilded shores, despite America’s affection for colossal luminescence. Rather, two knowledgeable British chemists, Sir William Ramsay and one Morris W. Travers, discovered Neon gas, named for the Greek νέον, meaning new, in London’s late nineteenth century. Neon alighted in the land of the free and the City Of Angels in 1923, by way of a Parisian, Georges Claude, and a Californian Packard automobile dealership. America’s first ever neon signage in fact read Packard, fusing inextricably together the nation’s fixation with the automobile, with advertising and consumerism, and with Neon herself, termed by the day - liquid fire...
Radiating forth across the nation, from coast to gilded coast, adopted with uncurbed enthusiasm by every state from Oregon to Maryland, Neon made her incandescent way at last to Broadway and 7th Avenue – ‘The Crossroads Of The World’, New York’s Times Square. And there she has remained ever since, her seductive neon wares known as ‘spectaculars’ and ‘jumbotrons’ transfixing millions of bedazzled tourists and passersby. Times Square now rivals in density even that all-American desert Mecca of excess and luminescence, victory and spectacular decline, the world’s consummate Sin City and The Entertainment Capital Of The World, Las Vegas.
Las Vegas: an expansive metropolis of entrancing neon lights, express marriage ceremonies and rapacious casinos. Las Vegas: a city largely constructed by Chicago and New York’s organised crime syndicates. Las Vegas: the brightest city on earth when viewed from outer space, a luminous Xanadu that Tom Wolf immortalised as “the only city in the world whose skyline is made neither of buildings, like New York, nor of trees, like Wilbraham, Massachusetts, but signs … But such signs! They tower. They revolve, they oscillate, they soar in shapes before which the existing vocabulary of art history is helpless."
Long synonymous of course with luck’s wayward hand, Las Vegas’ neon brilliance might also be viewed as emblematic of fated American ascendancy, of triumph and redemption, rewarded daring and greatest downfall, of providence wholly seized. And Las Vegas, blazing fiercely forever on, deep within the Mojave Desert, alongside New York’s Times Square and Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard, possesses a symbolic pre-eminence, in America’s collective cultural consciousness.
Icarus arcing inevitably higher towards the sun, gosling daydreamers drawn to the fireside, neon is deeply entwined with the nation’s mythologies, ideologies, and cosmologies. Her lanterns gathering Kerouac’s mad ones, ‘the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars’ from every highway and laneway, town, city and county in the land.
Proclaiming vice and immortality, aspiration and dream, those neon bathed theatres and diners, that proffered leisure and refreshment, flesh and fortune found across the vast American night, all serve as constellations for those longing wayfarers seeking reward and redemption, fame, and even deification. Seize these, and seize yourself. See one’s name in lights and possess that greatest expression of all-American cultural iconography. For you too shall have Warhol’s fifteen minutes. You too will join the luminous Sunset pantheon. You too, may be President one day.
Sweetest Neon is however, more often than not, the cruellest vixen. And despite all Daedalus’ implorations, courting those favours she so archly proffers is too often, a quixotic endeavour. For Neon’s brilliant incandescence remains forever amnesic; fame and adulation sear themselves brilliantly across heaven and memory and consciousness, before inevitably expiring spectacularly once more. Faded supernovas, broken dreams, ebbing northern stars… courting neon demands caution, should you wish to possess her for more than a solitary luminous evening.
For all that glitters is not gold, after all.
Read more from Kingston Trinder.
To launch the KENZO Fall 2014 collection, Carol and Humberto enlisted directors Partel Oliva and web/3D designers Kim Boutin and David Broner to create an interactive 3D and video experience. The result of their collaboration is available online at www.kenzo.com/fall2014, where you can visit the 3D exhibition space on your computer using your smartphone as a remote. The experience features music by Fatima Al Qadiri, who created the soundtrack for the men's Fall/Winter 2014 show.
The KENZO Prefall 2014 collection is in many ways a foray into the uncanny. Things are not always what they seem. Life at its most ordinary is skewed, twisted, until it appears fraught with surprises...
Over the course of a few nights before the opening of Grace To The Nth Power, a solo show inspired by Sudanese-American model Grace Bol, all but one of the artworks are stolen from the gallery. Still, the exhibition opens, with the missing pieces replaced by videos showing the thieves at work. Visitors are admitted one by one into the darkened gallery, to witness the unmaking of the old show and the making of the new.
The gallery exists online on a dedicated website, as a 3D space the user navigates using their mobile device which is tethered to the site. The story is deployed recursively on many levels, across the WebGL 3D site, the artworks, the videos.
Grace Bol plays herself and Sang Woo Kim plays her accomplice.
A dedicated gallery shop has been created for visitors who wish to purchase garments seen in the videos.
The videos and artworks will be displayed during a dedicated exhibition running from September 24h - 26th at Galerie 12Mail / Red Bull Space, 12 rue du Mail, Paris.
Shop our Pre-Fall collection for women.
Shop our Pre-Fall collection for men.
Neon signs emerging from the darkness are a well-known motif in David Lynch’s films, which provided the core inspiration for the KENZO Fall/Winter 2014 collections. The late Dan Flavin – famous for his minimalist fluorescent works - is one of Carol and Humberto’s favorite artists, and as such, the appearance of neon tones has peppered almost all of their KENZO collections.
The flickering and distorted lines of the Neon Plaid print are hypnotic, echoing the lure and ambivalence of neon diner signs. In three colorways – White, Fuschia and Wild Lime, Neon Plaid illuminates dresses, trousers and jackets for women and skinny jeans for men.
The book corner section highlights the most original aspects of this season's themes, through works selected from our KENZO boutiques and reviewed by Angelo Cirimele. To kick off the launch of the Pre-Fall and Fall/Winter 2014 collections, Angelo's pick of the week is 'Chaos Theory of Violence and Silence', the catalogue of the 2013 David Lynch exhibition at the Aomori Museum of Art in Japan. The oeuvre of David Lynch was the core inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2014 collections, and the director himself collaborated with Carol and Humberto on the typically offbeat and eerie set and soundtrack for the women's show.
I never really knew what to make of the concept of the “complete artist” or the eclectic genius - someone able to manipulate many narrative and visual forms. However David Lynch has transcended whatever doubts I had. Born as a filmmaker whose stories flirted with fantasy, he was one of the trailblazing directors whose work in television was the blueprint for the contemporary modern explosion of innovative, groundbreaking, and creative shows. This catalogue of a David Lynch exhibition contains paintings, set designs, and of course the obligatory evil looking snowmen! What we see is how the apparently chaotic pieces and designs all sit together in harmony. Fantasy tinged with reality, backgrounds composed like film sets, the fine lines between glamour and monstrosity, which are imbued in all of Lynch’s work. It’s the power of this universe he creates that was the inspiration for Carol and Humberto’s latest collection.
'Chaos theory of violence and silence', David Lynch, 2012, 136 p. Ed. Akaaka.
KENZO – 60, rue de Rennes, Paris.
Introduction to Fall 2014
It’s been almost twenty-five years since David Lynch’s eerie cult drama Twin Peaks first aired and pulled an entire generation into the depths of its bizarre world. Reflecting a career-long fascination with the darkness concealed behind a facade of the banal, the sleepy town was a fictional realm where nothing was as it seemed. Lynch put it best himself on the poster of his 1992 film Fire Walk With Me (a prologue to the series) with the headline: “In a town like Twin Peaks, no one is innocent.”
Whether it was Agent Cooper’s pristine suits or Audrey Horne’s black and white brogues, for many of us, Twin Peaks left a lasting impression on our collective fashion psyche. Apparently we’re not the only ones, as KENZO’s Pre-Fall 2014 collection is very much a love letter to the warped dualities and complexities that drew us into Lynch's fantastical world. But Carol and Humberto have never been too literal or singular with their references. This pre-collection, which was followed by an artistic collaboration on the set and soundtrack with David Lynch for the Fall/Winter 2014 show, draws on the motifs and codes of Lynch’s Pacific North-West but is re-mixed for today’s digital generation.
Plaid – which holds its own position in American folklore and made oh so many appearances on Lynch’s oddball characters - is twisted and re-worked with bold neon accents (imagine stark ‘90s fluorescent beam lighting via the 20th century artist Dan Flavin – a favourite of the design duo). Further skewing the familiar, the plaid prints of the collection infused with neon, with jagged lines that dart their way across skirts, jumpers and dresses like the eerie visuals of TV static. Shoes and belts are made up from hypnotic prints and serve as optical illusions – a nod to the fact that in Twin Peaks you can’t ever trust the ground you stand on.
Then comes fire. Now, if you’ve ever seen the creation of a Cai Guo-Qiang gunpowder painting then you will understand its parallel state between beauty and destruction. In Twin Peaks, the line “Fire Walk with Me” is ambiguous invitation to the unknown. Carol and Humberto quite literally play with fire in this collection, emblazoning the words as a slogan on knitwear and allowing yellow flames to creep up the back of garments. In their hands, it’s a fearless force of great power.
The interplay of contrasting elements is very much at the core of this collection. Carol and Humberto might have grown up on the West coast, but here they explore the mystery and strangeness of the American Northwest. Silhouettes of mountain peaks adorn garments alongside prints of doors that ultimately lead to nowhere. Just as Lynch sought to explore the human instability that lurks underneath the everyday, Carol and Humberto remind us that modern life is far more exciting when you get to push the limitations of reality.
KENZO PRE-FALL 2014
For the KENZO Pre-Fall collection, we wanted to observe both the ordinary elements of northwestern America and their reflection.
Modern lives have multiple facets and are not always what they seem. We approach the collection with a view of portraying the everyday as distorted, classic as two-faced, the norm as twisted and the familiar as slightly skewed.
Fringes on skirts and dresses are deconstructed, blown up and exaggerated.
Collars appear as inserts on silk shirts and zips are exposed.
Tv static embroidered dresses are introduced alongside down filled, brushed wool jackets.
Skirts are gathered at the waist and tops are cinched. Prints of doors to nowhere emphasize the unfamiliar.
Contorted neon plaid prints augment the lineation on dresses, coats and tops.
The focus on contrasting elements continues into accessories where pumps feature printed wood enamel and metallic tigers. Reptile skin pochettes appear along with porte-documents and belts reading fire. For jewelry, opposites attract and metalized squares, circles and spheres stand alongside each other on necklaces and earrings.