"Paris, je t’aime". Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are in love with the French capital, and for the KENZO spring/summer 2015 men’s show they thought they’d share it with their guests from around the world. Celebrities, editors, buyers, and family drove in procession through rainy Paris to Pont Alexandre III – the gilded bridge by the Grand Palais – where they were shown down to the riverbank. A canary yellow platform with matching benches had been erected on the quai below the bridge, the Eiffel Tower looming in the horizon.
Transparent KENZO umbrellas were passed around to guests and eventually created a mushroomed roof over the yellow platform, while black-clad team members wiped the rain off the runway with giant orange mops; a pretty amazing graphic effect.
On soundtrack duty, electronic duo Disclosure – Kenzo’s newest collaborators – opened the show with Giulio Franceschelli’s throbbing Loijy. It played for a while, seemingly with no runway action, before collective gasps suddenly went around the rows. In one ceremonious line, models were seen walking across Pont Alexandre III, the bright pastels of the collection lighting up in the rain. As they made their way to the stairs and the riverbank, each boy walked a round on the runway platform before disappearing back up the stairs onto the bridge. It was epic to say the least, and the pumping beat of Disclosure’s own When a Fire Starts to Burn, which played during the finale, only made the moment more powerful.
“I loved giving the Eiffel Tower to the guests,” Humberto said backstage, hosting the show solo due to Carol’s pregnancy. “Every time you’re here it’s so exciting to be able to see it, but sometimes you miss it so I thought, ‘You know what? This season I really want everybody to have the opportunity to see the Eiffel Tower.’” Inspired by the designer duo’s first visit to Paris and the way Parisians dress, the collection featured symbolic Parisian images such as the replica of the Statue of Liberty – also a nod to Carol and Humberto’s homeland – and the words ‘KENZO PARIS’ emblazoned across the back of jackets. “I wanted something that was really quintessentially beautiful. The macaron pinks, blues greens to me are just gorgeous, gorgeous colours,” Humberto said.
With guests like Alex Kapranos and Paul Thomson from Franz Ferdinand, Joe Jonas, Woodkid, and Jesse Metcalfe in the front row, and actor Theo Cholbi walking the final look, the show gave international visitors all the essence of Paris that Humberto had hoped for. Graphic dot patterns and stripes paid tribute to the eccentricity of the Parisian dresser while the neatness of chinos and snug jumpers in dusty pastels portrayed the pristine nature of Parisian men. “The Parisian guys are always in business suits, and then they get on their Vespas in a parka, and I love that idea,” Humberto said, referring to the motocross details that appeared throughout the collection.
“It’s now my third year here and I approached Paris for this collection with a really fresh eye. I was thinking of what Kenzo Takada might have thought when he first arrived in Paris in 1969,” Humberto said of KENZO’s founder, who was in attendance at the show. “So this collection was really about me re-living my first trip to Paris, re-experiencing everything that I love about it,” he noted. (The show invitation was even comprised of a ring of mini Eiffel Tower trinkets for everyone to keep.) From the dramatically cloudy Parisian sky acting as a natural backdrop for the show to the dome of the Grand Palais towering over the statues on the bridge, Paris couldn’t have looked better for its big KENZO tribute. Because this is the thing about Paris: even when it’s wet it looks hot.