PARIS – Kenzo’s designer, Nigo, found his groove for his sophomore collection at the LVMH-owned house, drawing vibrant parallels with house founder Kenzo Takada.
Nigo has made history as the first Japanese designer to front the house since Takada, who died in 2020.
But beyond the fashion, Nigo — who has made high profile collaborations with Pharrell — has real star attraction, once again pulling in top VIPs this season such as Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel.
Here are some highlights of Sunday’s spring-summer 2023 menswear collections in Paris.
KENZO’S BACK IN THE GROOVE
Set in a college hall and with a pervading 70s, preppy vibe, Nigo channeled the dazzling colors and mix-and-match cultural fusion that became synonymous with the house’s origins.
Hanging from the roof were flags reading “Kenzo 1970.” For students of fashion, a reference not lost: This date was not only the year Takada presented his first fashion show in the Galerie Vivienne in Paris in front of his new shop, Jungle Jap, but it was also the year of Nigo’s birth.
Funky scarves, a take on Boy Scout styles, morphed into colored lapels on suits that riffed on uniform.
A bright yellow patch-loaded waistcoat had an African vibrancy and mixed with Breton striped scarves, nautical themes and Asian cross-over styles in jackets. It created a dynamic cultural melting pot.
But it was the quirkiness and humor that defined spring-summer in this strong show — thick woolen socks on canary yellow flip flops, crimson flower appliques and multicolored bowler hats.
Nigo, 51, is only the second Asian designer at the head of a European high fashion label, alongside Bally’s Filipino-American Rhuigi Villaseñor. His appointment continues to represent a milestone as the luxury industry wrestles more broadly with questions over racism and diversity.
Screaming and crying fans thronged both sides of Paris’ Palais de Tokyo noisily ahead of Celine’s Sunday night show. Yet they had not turned out for designer Hedi Slimane’s fashions, but for glimpse of one the world’s most adulated popstars: Kim Taehyung, aka V from BTS, the multimillion disc selling South Korean boy band.
Inside the venue, proceedings around the spring-summer collection staging were marginally calmer. Guests swigged on “CELINE” branded mini champagne bottles, as large abstract mirrors descended on cords from the ceiling reflecting light in all directions to funky rock music.
Adolescent models with shaggy hair stomped grumpily past, in the designer’s signature style, showcasing his early 70s styles that were on high the shimmer and riffed on LA rock.
Winklepickers and blue drainpipe jeans were capped with fringed black leather coats and shades -- in the Franco-Tunisian’s designer’s tried-and-tested styles. Black, gently flared pants were used as a backdrop for statement fringed coats and jackets. One came in dazzling gold sequins.
Yet despite the razzmatazz, there was little new here in the designer’s repertoire. For Slimane, who shopped a similar aesthetic at Saint Laurent with panache, it is a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
WOOYOUNGMI’S GENTLE CONTRADICTIONS
Sobriety met moments of punk -- and the “late-1990s skateboarding community” -- in South Korean designer Woo Young Mi’s collection on Sunday, held in the ornate interiors of Paris’ Musee des Arts Decoratifs.
Classy tailoring on suits, such as a double breasted number that opened the show with a delicate nip at the waists, contrasted with white sneakers and vests. It made for a deft play in contradiction.
Pants were a big theme — designed in a trendy 90s baggy style. They hung in a beautiful curved shape at the bottom of the leg.
There were moments of sensuality — and humor — throughout this 42-piece co-ed show that marked two decades since the brand was launched. One tactile and semi-transparent blue punk vest was worn by a model with greasy grungy hair who held a posh square leather bag.
THOM BROWNE’S INFINITE VARIATIONS
It was a performative runway occasion for suit-loving Thom Browne, as VIPs including Farida Khelfa -- dressed head to toe in the designer’s garb -- arrived theatrically to take their seats after the show had apparently begun. Guests were in stitches laughing at what seemed to be intentional choreography.
A strange retro voiceover then signaled the “real” show would commence -- as a male model with giant, spiky punk hair strutted out in an ecru tailored jacket, tie and shorts.
Pastel gray tweeds in contrasting patterns - and with multitudinous layers that were completely unfit for the spring-summer season - followed. They were worn by a model with a decorative anchor covering his face holding a hound-shaped bag, and a “35” sign in the tradition of old-school couture, which featured numbered looks.
Stripy socks, tailored shorts, tweed skirts, black briefcases and patterned pastel suits in checks and stripes created what seemed like infinite variations on the same theme.