One of the most anticipated events during Paris Fashion Week was Nigo’s debut as Kenzo’s new Artistic Director. Since the announcement of his appointment last September, Nigo’s debut at the helm of the brand founded by Kenzo Takada was highly anticipated, and given that the multi-talented fashion/music/artist/entrepreneur’s (should we go on) extensive credentials, as well as the fact that he is the first Japanese designer since its founder to be at the helm of the maison, made many wondered what his vision for the brand would be. The answer was undoubtedly a fashion history 101 lesson in the form of a forward-thinking collection that took us back to the brand’s beginnings and heritage and into the designer’s contemporary style.
The theme of the collection was subtly suggested by the name and the venue where it was presented: entitled “REAL-TO-WEAR” and presented at the Galerie Vivienne, the place where Takada presented in 1970 the inaugural show of his brand, which at that time was known as Jungle Jap.
Two designers with their respective style, history, audience, recognition, and place in fashion, but with a common language regarding the Japanese-Western vision, and with this in mind, the collection is a fusion of Nigo’s influences with the heritage of Takada’s archives, renewing the conventional codes of clothing and reflected through pieces where the “Traditional ideas of formal-, sports- and “streetwear” splice into one logic: real-to-wear” per the press release.
Reversible bomber jackets with one side embroidered with a map of France and the other with a map of Japan. Shearling-lined nylon aviation jackets and varsity jackets reflecting the “Ivy League” era of Japanese appreciation of Western traditions as well as graduation jackets with prints of original Kenzo Takada sketches denote the “Japanese-Western” premise.
A harmonious, non-radical-disruptive deconstruction based on the founder’s archives is presented in the pieces: mid-length Harris Tweed coats and plaid biker jackets reflect the designer’s approach to the founder’s three-button jacket. Prince of Wales suits and the stripes employed by the founder are interpreted with washed wools. The distinctive Poppy Print was carried over on washed denim workwear and other garments, such as waistcoats, skirts, and collared shirts. The iconic tiger was featured on different pieces, such as the back of varsity jackets, on the belt buckle as an accessory.
Infusing touches of Japanese style, garments inspired by Samue, which is a traditional Japanese garment originally used as workwear by Zen Buddhists, artists, or doctors and now extended as informal wear, were presented. Pieces from the collection featured hand-painted embellishments by master potter Fujimura Shuji (from whom the artistic director is learning the art of Aka-e pottery). Denim pieces such as jeans, jackets, and salopettes with yellow stitching also emphasize the Japanese style.
Lastly, you can’t talk about fashion shows without music, about music without fashion and, in Nigo’s case, of both, because in addition to presenting his debut collection, the show featured an exclusive preview of the designer’s upcoming album “I Know Nigo”, which features contributions from A$AP Rocky Kid Cudi, Pharrell Williams, Pusha T, Teriyaki Boyz, Tyler the Creator and Lil Uzi Vert, most of whom attended the show.