Kenzo returns to Japanese roots in a historic moment

PARIS (AP) — It was a historic fashion moment in Paris for Kenzo on Sunday as it unveiled the debut of its first Japanese designer since house founder Kenzo Takada.

Nigo, 51, thus becomes only the second Asian designer at the head of a European haute couture brand, alongside the Filipino-American Rhuigi Villaseñor de Bally. His appointment represents an important step as the luxury industry grapples more broadly with questions about racism and diversity.

The Galerie Vivienne exhibition venue highlighted the historical significance of the first collection, teasing the parallels between the Nigo and the Takada. Both are Japanese, both studied at the same fashion school in Tokyo decades apart, both have an artistic vision between East and West and are considered fashion code breakers. The arcade is the very location where Takada held its inaugural fashion show in 1970.

Nigo’s close friend Pharrell Williams and Kanye West cheered amidst old bookstores alongside cheering audiences after his vibrant designs were revealed.

Here are some highlights from Sunday’s menswear fall-winter shows at Paris Fashion Week:


Nigo first rose to global fame with the streetwear brand A Bathing Ape which he launched in 1993. Decades later, at the helm of one of luxury giant LVMH’s biggest brands, Kenzo, these vibrant colors and those streetwise prints were evident in a creative fusion with some traditional Kenzo themes. like the red poppy print.

Both designers, the house said, had “an understanding of the synthesis between Japanese and Western sartorial traditions.” Nigo “envisions it as a tunnel into the future and beyond the boundaries of fashion”.

So, exaggeratedly oversized berets mixed with contrasting color prints on silk, remarkable loose woolen coats in maize, printed silk scarves, chunky shiny leather loafers and high-waisted chinos. Stripes followed checks, tassels, straps and gold buckle belts. There was even a series of finely tailored preppy dress looks with loose proportions, one of which nicely evoked the crossover styles of Japanese clothing.

Nigo pulled out all the stops, sending a myriad of styles and silhouettes — as well as designs for both men and women — down this unusual runway. Pure dynamism was the unifying theme.


The glittering St. Basel Cathedral in Moscow seeded the colors and styles of menswear brand Wooyoungmi on Sunday to produce a shimmering collection of jewel tones of pinks, greens, blues and oranges.

Amor Towles’ novel “A Gentleman in Moscow” was what the South Korean brand said inspired its Russian reverie – with references to the ornate city and its famous churches dotting the show.

Front-closing sashes seemed to be the brand’s take on ecclesiastical headgear, while patent-statement black boots that sported a chunky sole were a hip way to handle Russia’s famous winter snow.

Loose proportions, layering and sumptuous materials define the carefully thought out and executed collection.

The best moment? When an unexpected ornate bracelet – evoking the military – appeared on a beautiful, tailored, minimalist bronze woolen coat. It was subtle but effective.


Gargantuan ankle boots made from puffer jackets were the leitmotif of the Sacai by Chitose Abe show.

With hoops, zippers, laces, ribs and toggles, the original shoes looked ready for a moon landing, showcasing an edgy aesthetic for the fall-winter season.

Elsewhere, an art collaboration with Japanese-born New York artist Madsaki provided food for thought in the form of large spray paint prints and embroidery on sweatshirts and the backs of jackets.

“Sheeple Zombies and Kool-Aid,” he would say, referring to how trend-followers are unable to think independently.

It was a beautiful message for the house which prides itself on originality.

Abe was also in a nostalgic mood – reworking themes she introduced in her early shows, such as lingerie, which was incorporated here as seams of bra cups fitted to jackets.

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