humberto leon on kenzo’s pre-fall 15 collection

i-D caught up with the Kenzo co-creative director at Thursday’s pre-fall 15 presentation.

by Emily Manning
09 January 2015, 6:00pm

On Thursday afternoon, Kenzo presented its pre-fall 15 collection at Chelsea's Pier 59 studios. But, in typical Kenzo fashion, co-creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon skipped the standard rack-and-walk-through and staged something a little more special. Behind one beaded curtain, photographers and stylists shot each look, then printed out and displayed the images for all to see. As looks were shot and models changed, the outfits moved from space to space, with stylists swapping out bags and boots in between editors scoping out pieces. i-D caught up with Humberto to talk tribes, transparency, and responsibility.

Could you tell us about this collection's inspirations?
A lot of this season started off with this idea that the Kenzo brand has always been about these kind of tribes, a do-things-your-own-way attitude, that goes back to the Kenzo Takada days. So Carol and I really wanted to focus on that this season and create a collection where these women are banding together to speak their own language. It's really playing with the idea of community. All the prints are based on languages, so you'll see different ways that we've approached language and coded communication. It's about us celebrating individuality, even within our own brand.

How did you and Carol research the languages and symbols used for the prints?
A lot of these symbols come from the Depression era. There were a lot of symbols that were created to signify places for food, places for sleep, places for water, and so the idea was that each one of these symbols mean something that goes back to that.

From the get-go, you and Carol have put a heavy emphasis on set design with each Kenzo presentation. Can you tell us about the environment we're in today?
We wanted to have a transparency effect where we're inviting everyone to our lookbook shoot, watching the lookbook unfold from start to finish. We're shooting each look, printing out and putting up the images as we shoot, and displaying the looks in more fluid ways. I really like this idea that you get to look at these images which are more full on, layered, and styled, but as a viewer you get to come in and just look at the individual pieces as well. I think there's something nice about being able to show the entire process, so that's what this installation is all about.

It seems as though in your tenure at Kenzo, you've evolved the brand from "global" in the sense of representing a variety of cultures to "global" in the sense of actually responding to global issues. How do the ideas of luxury and responsibility collide for you and Carol?
In general, I try to be pretty responsible by first considering just where we are as humans. Anything that Carol and I work on or touch, we really try to consider what our footprint is; manufacturing-wise, what types of processes we're engaged with. When you can ask those types of questions, you should. We just try to be very aware in anything that we do, even in our personal lives, and this is very personal to us.


Text Emily Manning
Photography Kathy Lo

New York
Humberto Leon
fashion interviews