The fashion world was recently taken by storm with news of the passing of legendary designer Kenzo Takada. 2020 was a year to forget for several reasons, including the loss of many talented individuals, of which Mr. Takada's was a tragic highlight. Known for his fun and colorful approach to fashion, Kenzo has established a global empire based on the unique mix of Japanese and European influences. Having moved to Paris in the early 1960s, the designer played a crucial role in debunking several stereotypes about Japanese culture, basing his work on the concepts of freedom and harmony. His unique understanding of young and street cultures allowed him to create fresh garments that appealed to the masses, making him one of the hottest designers around. His legacy will forever prevail in the fashion archives and the mind of those named to perpetuate his work.
On this note, Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Batista has a daunting task at hand as Kenzo's Creative Director. After an exciting run at Lacoste, he is now heading the Parisien-based label, aiming to keep it fresh and contemporary without compromising the fundamental pillars that made it successful. The designer first touched base on the previous AW20 collection, with SS21 being fully envisioned by him and providing an eccentric runway experience to all who attended it. Drawing influence from his lush Azorian roots, both the set and collection featured a close relation to nature, also a predominant subject for Kenzo. This focus also translates to design and strategic decisions, such as resorting solely to recycled plastic or working with the WWF and other nature and wildlife preservation associations.
The collection was inspired by Honeyland, the 2019 movie about a Macedonian beekeeper, which depicts the different symbiotic/destructive relations we can create with nature. The concept translated quite literally into the runway looks, where models wore protective beekeeper gear paired with bold floral motifs taken from the Kenzo archives. The idea of protective garments and our relation to nature in a time of confinement and global pandemic made the collection feel relatable and actual.
To top off an already catchy collection, Felipe Oliveira Baptista also brings a new collaboration to the table, with none other than legendary Japanese designer Kansai Yamamoto. The result is a range of garments and accessories that celebrate Kenzo's love for nature and Yamamoto's obsession with Animalia. A mix of punk-inspired pieces that are easily wearable and adorned with Yamamoto's feline artwork.
The first pieces from Kenzo's SS21 collection are already online, on the link below: