solange performed at humberto leon and carol lim’s epic last kenzo show
Watched by 7,000 people, including members of the public, students and Kenzo staff, this might just have been the biggest fashion show guest list ever.
After eight transformative years at Kenzo, co–creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim stepped down with an epic spring/summer 20 show that celebrated their high-energy, youth-driven revolution of the house and paid homage to its founder, Kenzo Takada. As over 5,000 people that registered online for tickets joined the fashion set and Kenzo’s friends and family, Paris’ AccorHotels Arena was packed to the rafters to watch the spectacle. And what a spectacle.
Directed by regular creative collaborators Partel Oliva, the venue was reconfigured dramatically, enabling the show to deliver surprise after surprise. The performance started with a Léo Lérus-choreographed retrospective procession of looks from Carol and Humberto’s tenure, from 2012 to now. As Solange -- hidden from view at this point -- conducted the orchestra, the time-travelling parade saw a changing of the seasons as the “last mermaids of Japan” Ama-inspired spring/summer 20 collection revealed itself. Parallel to the current collection, figures were seemingly plucked out of the stream of fashion, as though time flowed in all directions at once. i-D cover star Solange then sashayed down the stairs and gave an unforgettable performance of I’m a Witness, the closing track on When I Get Home.
With water as their theme, Carol and Humberto were in reflective mood. “After eight incredibly special years at Kenzo, we are passing the torch of that historic brand with great pride,” the collaborators and friends explained in a release earlier this month. “We are thankful to our wonderful Kenzo team and the LVMH group for the opportunity to take forward founder Kenzō Takada’s groundbreaking legacy. We are excited to bring so many rich experiences and memories from our time at Kenzo to new frontiers,” they continued. With spring/summer 20, they made their final mark.
“For our ultimate collection for Kenzo, we looked to the home of our founder Kenzō Takada, and more specifically to the surrounding seas of Japan where groups of strong, tenacious and modern-day superheroes plunge daily to retrieve treasures at the bottom of the ocean,” Carol and Humberto explained in their co-written show notes. “The Ama are groups of Japanese female free divers, who, for over 2000 years have dived to the ocean floor to forage for seafood such as shrimp, urchins or even pearls for their communities,” she explained.
Inspired by their tenacity and bravery, the duo evoked these “last mermaids of Japan” through a collage of underwater references. For women, neoprene suiting in orange, violet and black was juxtaposed against crushed wet-look jersey tops; while dresses and skirts in mermaid jacquard linens were adorned with pearl buttons and teamed with nylon tops in vivid coral hues. Transparent suiting revealed prints of shrimp, mermaids and sea lilies, while high-waisted trousers featured an array of embroideries, reminiscent of treasures amassed while diving.
In the men’s collection, hardy rubberised outerwear appeared in orange and violet, while Hawaiian shirts were abound with prints of sea lilies or urchins, and light linen jackets in summer linens featured sailor collars and shorts made of high frequency laser-cut nylons. Suits were cropped and boxy and classic ‘K’ shirts featured net panels colour-blocked in the same coral-hued tones. Throughout, the collection reminded us just how far Carol and Humberto’s Kenzo have travelled, from early riders of the streetwear wave that changed luxury fashion forever to tech-driven craft 2.0, the pair know how to create a fashion splash. Fittingly, this was their biggest one yet.
Photography Mitchell Sams