Tag Archives: Kenzo

Creating Fashion that Sells Isn’t a Sin

What is the point of high fashion these days? Is there a reason that designers still get to sit on their high horses when the most talked about brand these days is Vetements, with all its nonstop talk about “clothing people actually wear”? It’s really an issue of the industry failing to catch up with the times, which is strangely ironic considering that fashion is supposed to represent and extol the times it lives in.

In the aughts of haute couture, and really since before the time of Charles Frederick Worth (considered the progenitor of high fashion) and Marie Antoinette, what fashion represented in the zeitgeist and times was desire. Plain and simple, it was about elevating and making clothing so beautiful, flattering, and jealousy-inducing that it was a means to a social end. Fashion is so strikingly bourgeois and hierarchical today precisely because it has, for so many years, represented a certain degree of sophistication and, indeed, wealth.

Selling isn't a sin: Chanel

Chanel

So what is high fashion for today, if Chanel is no longer haughtily pronouncing items of clothing démodé and instead, planting emojis onto accessories and clothing? If a brand as vaunted and intellectual as Prada is selling bags straight off the runway, can it still maintain a cachet of luxury and intelligence without the stink of shilling products (perhaps by making customers wait for the rest of its seasonal fashion direction)?

Selling isn't a sin: Balenciaga

Balenciaga

I posit that high fashion today is returning to its core, plain and simple, all over again. It is about beautiful clothing, wonderful things people feel an urge to wear, and representing the cultural values of the times. It is why Balenciaga under Demna Gvasalia feels so… right. With its post-modern melding of old-world techniques and new-age street-wise tricks, it has been vaulted right back into the fashion consciousness – and it is worth paying attention to again. With the advertising and PR money of fashion, it sometimes becomes difficult to differentiate what’s worth the time and what’s paid for. The purest reaction, then, is clothing that can convince customers to part with money to put on their back.

Selling isn't a sin: Vetements

Vetements

The ’90s were all at once the best and worst time for intellectual fashion, but that’s gone down the drain now. Conglomeration of brands and companies meant that fashion as an art and a means to an end was becoming monetized. Think of LVMH, Kering and Prada group’s expansions at the time.

Today, LVMH’s brands are represented in a good half of all fashion magazines’ front bumper of ads. Louis Vuitton, Dior, Céline, Loewe, Kenzo, Marc Jacobs, Givenchy, Fendi – even jewelry and watch brands such as Bulgari, Chaumet, Hublot, TAG Heuer, etc. Kering rounds it up with Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, etc. Where did the mavericks like Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela go?

In an environment where people simply demanded more and more clothing, it became hard for such intellectually-driven and conceptual designers to continue – never mind that the clothes they designed and created were eminently wearable and beautiful. But it was tricky, because the old shows from Prada, for instance, were such subtle exercises in decryption. Meaning was layered and veiled, and it took a trained eye and mind to pick apart what exactly Mrs Prada was saying each season. Today, a collection like its FW16 vagabond girls-on-the-run one is, while beautiful, almost obvious to interpret. In recent seasons too: fast cars and sweaty glamour, stiff Stepford wives’ tailoring, duney desert travellers. They make big political and cultural statements, but they’re plain to see.

Selling isn't a sin: Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Therein lies the problem. When fashion becomes grounds for intellectual concepts, customers get frustrated. It was famously hard for people to grasp Craig Green’s debut SS15 collection with flowing judoka quilts and banners bound to the models. But it struck a chord with the industry collective viewing the show – inspiring some tears, even. Here was a collection set against an Enya soundtrack, resplendent in creative liberty and in the luxury of time it took to craft. It was beautiful and it sold. Next season, he did a similar thing – line and silhouette were only slightly different, but there was a complete reversal in the reaction of the press. Lambasts of similarity and repetition abounded, and it became clear that the industry was on the same page as its readers’ attention spans. Never mind giving designers time to develop an idea and letting it stew, mutate, evolve and be felt out. We wanted more and more of the new.

Selling isn't a sin: Prada

Prada

So where is intellectual fashion’s place in today’s fast-paced commercial churning environment? It is a conundrum that is hard to solve. Perhaps that is why Vetements is so successful – because it makes you feel like you’re thinking and being smart about things while contributing no effort at all. Perhaps it is why Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent was such a runaway commercial success – because you didn’t have to think while wearing his clothes, you just had to partake in his vacuous vein of L.A. grungy cool. Perhaps it is why Phoebe Philo’s Céline is so influential – women don’t have to think about what they’re representing to the world because Philo’s clothing whispers refinement for them. Perhaps it is why Alessandro Michele’s Gucci is so refreshing – they’re simply fun to wear (the same, season after season) and don’t offer much by way of a political or cultural message.

I am not against any of this.

Selling isn't a sin: Jacquemus

Jacquemus

On the contrary, it is the way fashion is today, and to whine about time gone by is to be astoundingly near-sighted – rather, rear-sighted. Karl Lagerfeld has been so good for Chanel exactly because he takes to the times he lives in like a cultural sponge. There’s a respect to the historical foundations of the brand, but even more surely a perspective of today.

Selling isn't a sin: Gucci

Gucci

What I’m saying is that “commercial” isn’t necessarily a bad word. We’ve been wary of the financial beast for long enough; it’s time to be smart about it and synthesize what we know with what we want. There’s a reason designers such as Christian Lacroix went out of business despite his reign in the ’80s and ’90s in Paris: extravagance and bonanza dresses stopped becoming relevant. After sobering financial crashes, actual plane crashes and a global worldview of uncertainty, the dream was over.

Selling isn't a sin: Dries Van Nolen

Dries Van Nolen

Today, the new dream is perhaps clothes that slide right into daily life. A note: I’m not saying poorly designed and poorly made clothes with nary a thought or smarts should get a pass for being easy to buy and wear. I’m talking about fashion that has a contextual place in contemporary culture and represents a designer’s point of view. Ultimately, that’s the place of fashion: on our backs.

This article was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.

Tokyo Over Paris: Why Japanese Fashion Should Choose

Tokyo Over Paris: Why Japanese Fashion Should Choose

Tokyo may be the style capital of Asia, but with South Korea and China snapping at its heels and Japan’s most iconic brands rooted in Europe, the city is being urged to haul its fashion week into the big leagues. Given that the fashionably messianic (and thoroughly Japanese) Rei Kawakubo is the focus of the Met Gala in 2017, it is perhaps time to look seriously once more at Tokyo and its somewhat lackluster Fashion Week.

Tokyo Fashion Week kicked off its spring/summer 2017 season showcase last week with six days of events intended to promote 50 brands, a mixture of the established and the new.

Yet Japanese labels that are household names in the West – led by Kenzo, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Kawakubo’s Comme des Garcons – eschew home shores for the bright lights, prestige and visibility of Paris.

Tokyo Fashion Week attracts only 50,000 visitors – just a quarter of the total number that attend New York’s two annual fashion weeks, and also lagging behind London, Paris and Milan.

Held after the fashion merry ground exhausts the “big four”, few make the extra trip to Tokyo, and not many in Japan believe they are missing out.

According to a poll from local website (in Japanese obviously) Fashionsnap.com, only 20 percent of the Japanese fashion industry, including designers, stylists and editors, consider Tokyo’s events to be of interest.

The calendar, the no-show by the biggest brands, reluctance to open their doors to the wider public and sluggishness to embrace see-now, buy-now were all listed as shortcomings by the 221 people surveyed.

Focus on Your Own

The award-winning, Milan-based Turkish designer Umit Benan, wants to change all that.

“Everyone needs to get together to make the Japanese fashion week much better,” the menswear designer told reporters after making his Tokyo debut, having announced he would ditch Paris fashion week.

He called Japan’s menswear the “most sophisticated you’ll see in the streets” and said Tokyo was packed with the world’s most creative buyers and designers, along with some of the most sophisticated consumers around.

“I think you really need to focus on your own fashion week, trying to create new waves in Japan fashion,” he said, joking that he loves Japan so much, he visited 40 times in the last five years.

He called Japanese fabric second only to Italy’s. But unlike in Italy, where high fashion is governed by precision, he said the Japanese were willing to take risks, such as mix nylon with cashmere.

“The Italians don’t have the balls to mix nylon into a 200 euro fabric,” he said. “In Japan they’re very flexible and very creative, spontaneous… when you touch it you’re like my God what is this?”

While Tokyo has long been a springboard for up-and-coming designers, neighboring Seoul, with its vibrant street style, and Shanghai, as the commercial capital of China, are attracting increased interest.

“To me, Tokyo is the Asian fashion center with long fashion-forward history,” said Hong Kong designer Vickie Au who brought her “Urban Chill” collection to Tokyo after showing in New York.

The street look, minimal style and clean lines of her House of V label, this season inspired by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry is well suited to Japanese taste.

Beauty of the Craft

While she has boutiques in Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, and online, she is looking to break into the Japanese and US markets.

Au cited Yamamoto, the famed Japanese designer based in Paris, as an inspiration, praising him as a master of “modern and avant-garde tailoring”.

Christelle Kocher, creative director of up-and-coming French label Koche, also said she had learnt from Yamamoto and that it had been special to be the only French brand participating in Tokyo this season.

“Japanese culture is really refined and I think may be more than other places, they understand the beauty of the craft and the beauty of the time to make beautiful things,” she said.

US retailing giant Amazon is sponsoring Tokyo Fashion Week for the first time, and among the fashion set in Japan there are hopes that it can help rebrand the event into something brighter and larger.

The company is already the largest clothing retailer in the United States and fashion vice president for Amazon Japan, James Peters, signalled that he is determined to replicate that success in Japan.

While Tokyo still follows a six-month delay between catwalk and store, he said Amazon would be happy to help Japanese designers facilitate see-now, buy-now collections increasingly at the fore in New York.

“I think if that’s what the designers want to do, we’re ready to do it,” he told AFP at the week’s launch party.

Saint Laurent Paris Fashion Week

5 Runway Trends: Paris Fashion Week

As far as the news cycle goes, Paris Fashion Week was overshadowed by the robbery involving Kim Kardashian and millions worth of jewelry. But that does not mean that the catwalks in the city delivered anything but the finest designs for the upcoming season. We take a look at five of the best runway trends from Paris Fashion Week.

Glitter Gang

The designers have brought the glitter to the catwalks in numerous ways. From the shiny vinyl fabrics that were used in jackets and skirts to tight 1980s-inspired off shoulder tops, Mugler and Kenzo brought some sparkle to their collections. Like Dior and Lanvin, Nicolas Ghesquiere used gold and silver gleam to provide a little rock-lux to the Louis Vuitton collection.

Under Where?
Lanvin Paris Fashion Week

Lanvin

Transparency is the name of the game for many this season. Most designers included at least one or two see-through dresses or tops in their collections with a majority of the sheer black tops and “Belle de Jour” tulle dresses were worn without bras on the runway. However, Chanel was one brand that used underwear as outerwear through lingerie dresses that were seen through most of the collection. Over at Lanvin and Agnes b, their silky pajama suits proclaimed “It’s summer, why get dressed at all…”

In Bad Taste

Saint Laurent’s Vaccarello went flashy with stilettos that had the letters YSL forming the heels. The designer also went with mono-boob dresses for women who preferred to make an entrance — or maybe Lady Gaga. There was no shame at Dior with the brand showing off the slogan “J’adore Dior” on shoulder straps, straps of its sandals and belts. Chanel embraced some style secrets of rappers by pairing its baseball caps with chunky rapper bling diamond jewelry.

Return Of The Establishments
Dior Paris fashion Week

Dior

While the last few years have seen young rebel labels take over the runways, this fashion week has seen the likes of Dior, Saint Laurent, Lanvin and Leonard climb back to the top of the pile. While neither Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior nor Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent are revolutionaries, there is a edgy energy in their spring-summer collections that promises the old stagers could surprise us yet.

Tickled Pink

From Chanel to Valentino and Nina Ricci, pink hues proved to be another trend on the catwalks. Pale ivory pinks were dominant for lingerie dresses. Two toga dresses from Celine used the soft shade to cut the edgy oversized feel.

Chloe-Paris-Fashion-Week

5 Beauty Trends: Paris Fashion Week

As one of the fashion capitals of the world, Paris did not disappoint during fashion week. From the designs to the drama off the runway, the city ensured that all eyes were on it for one week. While the collections certainly captured our attention, we could not ignore the various makeup looks that models sported down the runway. We take a look at five of the top trends from Paris Fashion Week.

Girly
Chanel-Paris-Fashion-Week

Chanel

Models who walked for Rihanna’s Fenty X Puma collection showed off holographic pink highlighter and doubled-up lashes that gave off a doll-like look while their temples sported blusher with the help of the ‘draping’ technique. Chanel went with a similar theme where models sported low-slung side ponytails and baseball caps that were worn at a jaunty sideways angle. To cap off the look, was pink lip gloss.

Disco Lips
Maison Margiela Paris Fashion Week

Maison Margiela

While Fendi captured the audience at Milan Fashion Week with glitter lips, Maison Margiela brought it to Paris. Acne was another brand that adopted the trend though it went with a striking holographic gunmetal blue shade. The hue caught the light and was paired with thick, brushed brows, matter foundation and just a hint of under-eye highlighter.

The New Smokey
Dries-Van-Norton-Paris-Fashion-Week

Dries Van Norton

The smoky eye look was turned up a notch at Dries Van Noten and saw eye shadow applied across the bridge of the nose for a shimmering mask. To enhance the effect of the eye shadow, the area immediately beneath was lightened. At Vivienne Westwood’s unconventional show, metallic shadow was applied to the inner eyes and bridge of the nose for a hollowed out effect.

French Girl Beauty
Balmain-Paris-Fashion-Week

Balmain

Loose curls, a matte base and just a smudge of liner under the eyes gave the models at Chloe (Main Picture) that laidback Parisian look that the brand is known for. Another fashion house that embraced sophisticated French beauty was Balmain with matte skin, soft taupe eyes, nude lips and a dash of highlighter that provided a carefree and glamorous evening look.

The Red Eye
Kenzo-Paris-Fashion-Week

Kenzo

Paule Ka chose to match cherry-stained lips with the eyes to bring about a tropical look. Over at Kenzo, the rulebook was thrown out the window by teaming statement red lipstick with a theatrical red eye for a greater impact.

The Realest Real: Kenzo Short Film

Exploring the relationship — or lack thereof— between social media and real life, Kenzo introduces its new fall/winter 2016 collection with a short film. Starring Laura Harrier, Natasha Lyonne and directed by Carrie Brownstein, the short film is filled with humor and sarcasm as the characters reveal how the two worlds can collide with hilarious consequences.

To find out more about the short film and to watch the full video, visit Men’s Folio.

4 Fashion Collaborations For Fall 2016

Fashion collaborations seem to excite everyone and this season we are in for a treat with four notable team ups. The collaborations are set to attract customers, thanks not only to the major labels involved but also thanks to the familiar names involved.

Tommy Hilfiger X Gigi Hadidgigi-hadid-tommy-hilfiger

This collaboration has been in the works for a year, and now boasts a ready-to-wear-line. For her latest venture with the label called “Tommy X Gigi”, the model presents a ready-to-wear line with a sailor-chic theme. The collection is made up of cable-knit sweaters, maxi dresses, high-waist pants with button fronts, long coats, ankle boots and a wide range of accessories. The collection is now available online but will be rolled out to Tommy Hilfiger stores on September 10.

Aubade X Christian LacroixAubade-X-Christian-Lacroix

The lingerie brand Aubade and Christian Lacroix announced the capsule collection back in December 2015 and shared a small snippet of it just a few weeks ago. Bringing back the bold and sophisticated re-workings of Aubade’s iconic lines “Idylle Parisienne” this collaboration will be made available in two color options. For summer, the brand will launch “Princess Impériale” while “Gardénia” will be rolled out in October. The collection features several styles of bras and briefs, as well as a waist-cincher and a nightdress.

Uniqlo & Ines de la FressangeInes-de-la-Fressange

This is not the first time that the Japanese brand has teamed up with the French model and fashion designer. The sixth such capsule collection is made up of 70 pieces we would love to have in our wardrobe for fall/winter 2016. Channeling the chic Parisian vibe that we have come to love from Ines de la Fressange, the collection focuses on three major themes. “La Femme Rive Droite,” inspired by the natural-born elegance of women in Paris’s right-bank neighborhoods, “La Femme Rive Gauche,” capturing the natural fuss-free chic of left-bank women, and “La Femme 70s,” channeling a free spirit.

H&M X Kenzokenzo-hnm-featured

This collection is one that we are anticipating with glee. Heading to stores on November 3, this capsule collection is H&M’s follow up to the highly successful Balmain collaboration. The collection will be made up of candy bright colors, prints and mix-and-match pieces that will be rolled out to 250 specially selected H&M stores worldwide.

Comme des Garçons

Aesthetic Debt: What High Fashion Owes Asia

Who says fashion exists in its own bubble? Designers and houses today are, more than ever, drawing inspiration and references from all over the world. Nowhere is this more apparent than in high fashion’s relationship with the East. The seductive Orient has long been a goldmine for decorative touches. Christian Dior’s love of the East led him to create a dress – in the beautiful New Look silhouette with its nipped waist and elaborate volume – covered in Japanese scribble lifted from an old print. The words? Something about bowel movements and a tummy ache. A funny yet telling example, if there were one, about the results of good intentions and unwitting execution.

Gladly, designers today have the luxury of research and the availability of a global world view (thank you, Google) that’s resulted in a more intelligent way of mining the East for inspiration – and it’s one that should be celebrated. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 2015 key exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, was a significant showcase of the East’s influences on fashion. What it achieved was a plain demonstration that China has had an aesthetic influence on virtually every high fashion designer. The “looking glass” element to the exhibition, however, should be a strong reminder that China and indeed the rest of Asia aren’t far-away oriental mysteries. Its relevance and influence almost demand that designers picking references do so with intelligent sensitivity rather than with reductive pastiche.

Japan in Paris

Maison Margiela

Maison Margiela

Two of the most important Japanese designers – Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto – have been in the business for upwards of 40 years, with starts in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s intriguing to assess their aesthetics and impact on the industry. We must remember that the two were so influential and notable in Paris fashion because of the contrariness of what they were showing. When Western – that is, Euro-centric – fashion built dresses around the glamorous, sexualised female body, Kawakubo and Yamamoto stormed in and offered inventive forms, silhouettes, cuts, and an insistent use of the colour black. Indeed, the Yamamoto brand has been revered for its masterful craftsmanship, protective embrace of the body, and an intelligence that builds a sense of safety for the wearer – clothes as the proverbial armour.

Kawakubo, too, gained fame for being unrelentingly herself. Comme des Garçons has become a model brand (pictured top) with its numerous offshoot lines – Junya Watanabe, Noir Kei Ninomiya and Ganryu are all by Kawakubo’s protégés – and the opinion-leading Dover Street Market stores. The underpinning artistic strength remains the Comme des Garçons mainline designed by Kawakubo herself, which has been unfailingly unique, daring and avant-garde.

Kenzo today represents upbeat accessibility thanks to creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon. The Opening Ceremony founders bring a commercial New York line of thought to the brand that keeps it in line with the founder’s original spirit. The man himself, Kenzo Takada, opened his boutique in Paris, named Jungle Jap, selling his bright and fun multicultural prints. One of the key pillars of Kenzo fashion is a sense of fun and youth. Soon, Kenzo will launch a collaborative collection with H&M, one in a series of special edition releases with the likes of brands like Lanvin, Maison Martin Margiela, Balmain, Isabel Marant and Karl Lagerfeld. Onward to the future, indeed.

Speaking of the future, one must never forget the Japanese brand that pushed technical and creative boundaries. Issey Miyake is important to fashion because of his loving embrace of technology and the brand’s explorations of the form and function of dress. Miyake’s earliest works were built around the Japanese kimono, deconstructing the traditional garment to get to the core of what makes foldable garments work. Toying with dimensionality, he developed a line of clothes that were softly sculptural. His famous heat-pressed pleating technique birthed the Pleats Please line, and the shaped yet draped silhouette has been unique since. In the FW16 collection, current creative director Yoshiyuki Miyamae pays respectful homage with garments constructed with pleating techniques that the brand calls “baked stretched” and “3D steam-stretched”. The brand remains, in its spirit, venturous in exploring the effect of technology on fabric and garment construction.

Cultural Influences

Valentino

Valentino

The highest echelons of fashion owe an aesthetic debt to Asia. The original greats from Paris such as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Paul Poiret, Madeleine Vionnet and Coco Chanel took inspirations from various facets of chinoiserie and japonism. There’s an element of pastiche that can’t be disregarded, though one can chalk it down to the times. Yves Saint Laurent paid tribute, in the 1970s, to cheongsam and qipao silhouettes, topped with hats and jackets inspired by imperial Chinese dress. In Tom Ford’s final collection for the house in the fall of 2004, such looks were amplified to highlight sensuality and sexual boldness. The figure-hugging and high-slit clothes demonstrated Ford’s high-octane sex-sells mentality and his ability to subvert traditional dress forms to suit the times.

Coco Chanel was a famously enamored collector of lacquered coromandel screens from China, and decorated her home and offices in Rue Cambon with more than 30 of them. Karl Lagerfeld’s collections have built on the obsession, most notably with a 2009 Métiers d’Art show in Shanghai that played to his strength of combining the heritage of Chanel with the needs of modern women. The result: a modern Chinese attitude worn with the insouciant bouclé skirt suits of the house. Lagerfeld then took a journey to India in the Paris-Bombay Métiers d’Art 2012 show: traditional Indian dress styles such as salwar trousers (voluminous pants which taper sharply near the ankles) and kurti (long, tunic-length blouses) got paired with Chanel’s iconic pearls and tweeds. When it comes to making references, Lagerfeld is a master; there’s an ease to the mix that belies deep research and finesse in construction.

John Galliano furthered Dior’s love of the Orient when he was designing for the house with the famously splendid SS07 and SS09 haute couture shows. Spring of 2007 saw modern geishas in chartreuse-, lavender- and rose-hued Bar silhouettes cut in silk-taffeta with an origami-style twist. In 2009, the ubiquitous willow pattern on Chinese ceramics sneaked under the linings, on the insides, and around the outsides of the dresses – a delicacy to the clothes lent by invoking a key product of trade that China has shared with the West for centuries.

Today’s Take

Valentino

Valentino

Modern couturiers play a more nuanced game of reference-picking. Consider Valentino’s Spring 2016 haute couture showing. The silhouettes and thrust of the look was the otherworldly and ultra-feminine signature that Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have become acclaimed for. Kimono-style coats and robes with hand-painted carps and dragons draw from the mythological wellspring of the East. This followed the visual story in the brand’s Pre-Fall 2016 collection which featured hand-painted and intarsia-ed dragons and swallows, pyjamas with brocaded swans, and shift dresses with genteel 10th-century bird-and-flower paintings.

In Gucci’s FW16 collection, Alessandro Michele sent a dizzying number of 70 looks down his runway. The Michele method is to create for a variety of women – different characters daring to partake of and play in dress-up characterisation. Two Asian-informed looks strolled down the runway: the first, a minidress with an Italian sun motif and a Mao collar; the second, a floor-length qipao with pink fur trim on the sleeves and an embroidered phoenix pattern.

At Louis Vuitton and Kenzo, the brands looked towards a cartoon idealisation of women. Nicolas Ghesquière has one of the best knacks in the industry for tapping into youthful energy and giving it a sophisticated turn. Recall Spring 2016’s advertising campaign: the virtual avatar of Lightning (one of the lead characters in the Final Fantasy games) swings around a bag, strikes poses and looks airbrushed to perfection. It is worth noting that the Lightning character in the games is a combatant – the strongest playable character, even. This is reflected in the clothes, too: the urban-heroine sensibility is carried into FW16’s exaggerated silhouettes, emphasis on heavy boots, panelled bodysuits and armour-like leather bustiers. At Kenzo, the train of thought was Sailor Moon, beloved ’90s shōjo icon of female liberation and strength. It took the spirit of confidence and quintessential femininity, and translated it into an abundance of empire waistlines and deconstructed duffel coats with a smattering of reworked archival iris, dandelion and tiger prints (Kenzo is known for its print work).

Dior

Dior

On a more technical front, we look back to Raf Simons’ debut haute couture collection for Dior in the Fall 2012 season. The collection saw Simons impose abstract Sterling Ruby prints onto coats and dresses using an Indonesian technique seen through a French eye. The original technique ikat is an early form of warp printing. Warp printing involves dyeing the fabric on the yarn before it is woven, as opposed to traditional methods in which a print is stamped onto a finished yard of fabric. The resulting print is warbly and far from sharp, and – to quote Mr Simons – “has the quality of a brush stroke”. In the 18th century, this was the same quality that led to the French creation of Chiné a la Branche, a variation on the ikat print technique that produced small, watercolor-esque floral prints on silk taffeta fabrics that found favour and fashion on the backs of Marie Antoinette and her contemporaries.

Today, what Asia represents for luxury and high fashion is fertile ground for growth and exploration. The massive Chinese economy offers opportunities for growth with a huge consumer base longing for the prestige and sheen of luxury. What fashion designers have to remember, then, is to pay their audiences back with the beauty they’ve borrowed.

This article was first published in L’Officiel Singapore.

Date Revealed: H&M X Kenzo Drops in Stores

Apart from the ever-exciting fashion weeks, every year fashion people look forward to a certain day in the calendar, and the day has finally arrived. In the latest H&M collaboration, the label has tapped Kenzo as their partners; just last year, we’ve had the #HMBalmaination upon us. We can’t wait for this year.

This year’s collection, on top of staying true to the Kenzo code, also takes on a socially active edge. The lookbook models are not just mere pretty faces, but are activists, founders of collectives, or performance artists in their own right.

H&M X Kenzo will drop into stores worldwide in just a few months’ time. Details over at Men’s Folio Singapore.

H&M Announces Designer Collaboration with Kenzo

After the success of Balmain x H&M last year, the fast fashion mogul is back again with another exciting new lineup and this time, it is with another Parisian fashion house – Kenzo.

Headed by Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, the creative heads of Kenzo, the new Kenzo x H&M collaboration will highlight the creative, playful and vibrant spirit of the brand with a huge focus on prints.

Find our more about the new collaboration and watch the teaser ad  at L’Officiel Malaysia.

6 Runway Accessory Trends Maximizing Impact

The fashion runways churn out an impressive number of style stories with their trends and designs. Today we take a closer look at the accessories that don’t need to try too hard to catch your attention — simply because you can’t miss them. Bigger is always better it seems with the looks we’ve seen on the catwalk and we can’t wait to share some of our favorites, which are also the favorites of L’Officiel Singapore, who put together this piece.

Bold & BeautifulBold-And-Beautiful-Max-Impact-LO

Statement necklaces and arm parties have seen their day. With so many designers cutting away garments to reveal necks and shoulders, it only makes sense to draw more attention to these areas via a pair of huge, sweeping shoulder-dusters.Make them the focal accessory by going for interesting details and colour combinations, lots of sparkle, or an arresting sculptural shape.

Chain ReactionChain-Reaction-MAx-Impact-LO

Fashion’s fallen head over heels for this punk-tinged hardware, but given it a decidedly feminine touch. Alexander Wang used gold chains to embellish the dainty mesh bags in his romantic all-white Balenciaga collection. Miuccia Prada used them on retro, ladylike pieces in her rich, tactile collection, while Armani and Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen draped them on the body to offset light, delicate clothes.

The All-ClearThe-All-Clear-Max-Imapct-LO

Plastic truly is fantastic. Designers as varied as Christopher Kane, Simone Rocha, Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel and John Galliano at Maison Margiela all offered versions of the transparent stuff plastered on bags, heels, sandals and hats. The most directional pieces, though, came from Jonathan Anderson who used it on garments at his eponymous label and on plastic Puzzle bags, pouches, jewelry and even trousers at Loewe.

Crowning GloryCrowning-Glory-Max-Imapct-LO

If you’re looking to indulge your inner princess fantasies, now is the time to do it. The girls at No 21 wore bands of sparkling stones atop their dreamy white looks. The Rodarte sisters wove medieval-looking gold leaves into their models’ hair, while Dolce and Gabbana crowned their glamorous Italian girls with fruits, crystals and flowers. Not everything was so princess-like though; both Miuccia Prada and Hedi Slimane showed actual tiaras at Miu Miu and Saint Laurent, respectively, but their girls and the clothes had an alluringly rebellious vibe.

Easy BoostEasy-Boost-Max-Imapct-LO

Sandals are a fail-proof summer staple but they’ve now been given a fun fashion twist via luxe materials, bright punchy prints and, most importantly, an elevated standing thanks to a sturdy flatform or a low chunky block heel. We love Fendi’s graphic leather slides, Ferragamo’s strappy ones with pop-coloured soles and those printed Chanel sandals that light up like an airport runway.

White LightWhite-Light-Max-Imapct-LO

For Spring/Summer ’16, designers have chosen to make their biggest statements in white. The effect is clean and chic, but far from minimal. At Balenciaga, Alexander Wang sent out rucksacks, totes and clutches in beautifully delicate silk satin, lace and woven leathers. Phoebe Philo’s white Céline bags were graphic with interesting hardware details while her Chelsea boots had a chunky, mannish appeal. Massimo Giorgetti’s sandals at Emilio Pucci on the other hand were romantically dotted with pearls.

Story Credits

Text by Jeffrey Yan

This story first appeared in L’Officiel Singapore. 

5 Memorable Looks from Paris Fashion Week

Nine days, 90 major runway shows for Fall/Winter and a boatload of designs later, Paris Fashion Week has finally come to a close. While we would love to relive each show and share the collections with you, it would be impossible and quite honestly exhausting. In place of that, we have come up with an alternative that still keeps you in the loop. Here are the five memorable looks from Paris fashion week.

The ‘80s

We saw the decade make an appearance at Saint Laurent. Hedi Slimane didn’t hold back at the Maison’s show with the shoulder pads, big belts, bows and earrings. He even threw in a few mini-skirts that seemed to travel their way through time to be there. Other designers influenced by the ‘80s glamour, were Kenzo, Lanvin, Maison Margiela and Giambattista Valli.

Kenzo at Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

Kenzo at Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

Warrior Chic

From bikers to cowgirls and Indian braves, the runways were filled with the “no-nonsense” woman. Brands such as Louis Vuttion and Loewe featured black leather bustiers; Vuttion even paired it with skinhead and dominatrix boots for a tough-as-nails look. The armored look didn’t merely encompass the bustiers but even extended to toughened up tutus by Valentino.

The Bourgeoise

The gothic Victorian look had a spot in the limelight amidst the aggressive glamour. With a twist on the 19th century coats and suits, it’s not difficult to imagine the liberated gentlewoman wrapping herself in pieces from Lemaire, Veronique Branquinho and Stella McCartney.

Stella McCartney at Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

Stella McCartney at Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

The Thigh-Highs

High boots are definitely in. Males excited by this may like to know they are indeed for walking all over you. From thigh-high Puss in Boots to skinny, cavalier, lusciously soft suede, riding boots and S&M, they were everywhere. Balmain, Rick Owens, Ungaro, Barbara Bui, Wanda Nylon, Masha Ma and Luis Buchinho built much of their looks around them.

Shine Bright like a Diamond

Paris has a new sheen again and it is not just from all the leather. From the first day when Anrealage debuted its symphony of space age grey, to Dries Van Noten’s deliciously judicious use of gold lame to Saint Laurent’s flashy uptown girls, the catwalks have gleamed with shiny fabrics and surfaces. It reached a pinnacle in Haider Ackermann’s jewel-toned glitter ball of hard-edged glamour.

Saint Laurent from Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

Saint Laurent from Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016

Kenzo: “Snowbird” SS16 Fashion Film

Forget advertising campaigns with no plot, theme or script. Kenzo has just changed the game of how to tease an upcoming collection. Much like the Fall/winter collection of 2015, the brand used a short film to showcase the spring/summer 2016 line. Enlisting the help of Sean Barker who directed Tangerine, the designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim showed off an enigmatic 11-minute video earlier this month in Los Angeles.Kenzo-BTS-Snowbird2

Titled “Snowbird”, the short film sees the audience follow Abbey Lee of Mad Max as she shares a cake with her neighbors in a desert trailer park. Of course, since this is not a movie but a chance for the brand to show off its collection, the lead character is decked out in Kenzo throughout the film. Some of the actors are in fact residents of the community while others are professionals. We wouldn’t want to ruin the movie so we won’t delve further into the plot but it is impressive what the filmmaker has done on just a simple iPhone.Kenzo-BTS-Snowbird

Dubbed a fashion film, “Snowbird” seems to have been on the minds of both the designers and the director from the very beginning. The designers feel that rather disconnecting from the world of fashion and glamour, the film simply makes up one part of the whole collection. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the film helps to explain the inspiration behind the collection. Even the music was something made specifically for the film. Stephonik Youth, the filmmaker’s sister, wrote the original pieces that could easily pass for a dynamic release you could enjoy on Spotify.

The men’s fall 2016 collection was unveiled earlier in January while the women’s collection, will be showcased at Paris Fashion Week in March.

Kenzo Elixir fragrance

Flower by Kenzo L’Elixir

Kenzo Elixir fragrance

After having revealed TOTEM, its latest fragrance range,  has introduced a new gourmand scent to the Flower by Kenzo line for autumn.

Staying true to the Flower by Kenzo saga, the new scent is very feminine, powerful and sensual with a hint of sweetness.

Created by master perfumer Alberto Morillas, the Flower by Kenzo l’Elixir opens with succulent notes of raspberry and mandarin. Bulgarian rose essence, orange blossom absolute, bourbon vanilla absolute and praline aromas complete the fragrance.

The advantage of using Bulgarian rose, according to Morillas, is the incomparable femininity that it exudes, revealing a unique scent with every harvest, an essence with numerous aromas that is always surprising.

A noble and unique ingredient for perfumers, he calls it the most beautiful of roses. Its signature scent is instantly recognizable, rich and complex.

The bottle is designed by Serge Mansau. For this new scent the long iconic Flower by Kenzo flacon is dark red with gold colored poppy flowers.

Patrick Guedji, creative director of Kenzo Parfums, chose to shoot the campaign around the Brazilian National Congress in Brasilia.

The campaign film (below) stars Chinese model Ming Xi.

Kenzo fw14

Kenzo Fall/Winter 2014 Campaign

The fall-winter 2014 campaign from  draws inspiration from the work of director David Lynch with Guinevere Van Seenus and Robert McKinnon.

Kenzo fw14

Once again, Kenzo creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim collaborated with the trio behind Toilet Paper Magazine.

With a collection inspired by the world of David Lynch, there was only one way to go: twisted and surreal, but with a dose of signature humor from Toiletpaper’s Maurizio Cattelan, Pierpaolo Ferrari, and Micol Talso. Key to the campaign was 36-yo Van Seenus’s versatile talent in front of the camera.

A video unveiled Monday shows off the New York City skyline, with the duo’s cartoonish caper plotted out with silent film slogans and surreal imagery.

Kenzo Tigre clutch

Kenzo designs special pieces for Paris’s Printemps

Kenzo Tigre clutch

On August 28, the famed French department store’s flagship will host a special  pop-up store featuring a limited edition capsule collection.

The Atrium of the Printemps Haussmann will be transformed into a playful and experimental pop-up store. Kenzo creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon were inspired by the female characters in David Lynch’s films and have created a line featuring denim, jacquard dresses, crepe tops, and new unisex sweatshirts featuring the brand’s Eye and Tiger motifs and the Kenzo logo.

Kenzo Tigre sweatshirt

They will appear alongside a number of new versions of the brand’s ‘Kalifornia’ bag and a selection of accessories including wallets, totes, iPhone cases and scarves. Prices will range from €75 to €550.

Kenzo Broken Floor dress Kenzo Tigre  bag

Kenzodiac

Kenzo tackles fashion astrology with its Kenzodiac

Kenzodiac

 has unveiled its latest social media experiment, a fashion microsite based around the signs of the zodiac.

The catchily titled ‘Kenzodiac’ features illustrations by Julien Ceccaldi. They show Manga-style figures wearing pieces from the brand’s Spring-Summer 2014 collections for men and women, with each character carrying a fun visual pun on the star sign they represent.

Alongside some enigmatic advice, the horoscope entries also propose a touch of retail therapy, with link though to items on sale in the Kenzo store.

Kenzodiac illustrations by Julien Ceccaldi

The symbol of the month for June is the Lucky Fish (a nod to the brand’s commitment to the Blue Marine Foundation non-profit) and the zone of the month is California (creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon‘s Spring-Summer 2014 jumping-off point).

Check out your sign on the Kenzodiac at: http://kenzodiac.com

Kenzo pouch for Google Nexus 7 tablet

Kenzo creates a bespoke case for the Nexus 7

Kenzo pouch for Google Nexus 7 tablet

In honor of Paris Fashion Week, Kenzo and Google have teamed up to present a colorful case designed especially for the Nexus 7 tablet. In turn, the internet giant will stream a live broadcast of the Kenzo runway show on Google+ next Sunday, September 29.

Tailored to fit the Nexus 7 perfectly, the Kenzo pouch is made of PVC and covered by one of the ribbons from the brand’s Fall collection. The inside is lined with soft velvet to protect Google’s tablet.

Fashion-conscious Nexus 7 owners can purchase the limited edition case from October through Kenzo’s French e-boutique at the price of €85 (around $115).

For its side of the partnership, Google will bring Kenzo’s Spring/Summer 2014 runway show to the internet. This September 29, fashion fans are invited to follow the behind the scenes action from 7:00am CEST (1:00am EDT) and the runway presentation from 10:00am CEST (4:00am EDT).

The entire show will be streamed live through Kenzo’s Google+ page and through YouTube!

Vans Kenzo Fall 2013 Collection

Vans x Kenzo Fall 2013 Collection

Vans Kenzo Fall 2013 Collection

The fifth capsule collection jointly presented by the American skate apparel brand and the Paris-based fashion house places the spotlight on animal prints and graphic motifs.

The models are based on three prints from Kenzo’s Fall/Winter 2013 collection: Flying Tigers, Lightning and Clouds, all featuring the bright colors and graphic patterns the Japanese brand is known for.

Three shoe models, including a pair of high-top sneakers, are available in three prints and three colors for this fall. The latest Vans & Kenzo sneakers are priced between €90 and €110.

The two brands have prepared an ad campaign to show off their fifth joint collection, photographed by Brianna Capozzi.  The new sneakers can be ordered through Kenzo‘s online store.

Vans Kenzo Fall 2013 Vans Kenzo Fall 2013 Vans Kenzo Fall 2013 Vans Kenzo Fall 2013 Vans Kenzo Fall 2013 Vans Kenzo Fall 2013

Kenzo’s Fall 2013 Campaign with Toilet Paper

Kenzo FW 2013

French luxury brand Kenzo, now helmed by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, has teamed up with Toilet Paper magazine on a new Autumn-Winter 2013 ad campaign.

The brand hired Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Opening Ceremony back in July 2011. In the two years since, the American creative directors have proved a revelation, simultaneously harking back to the founder’s ‘Jungle Jap’ prints while updating the brand for a new generation of switched on meme-savvy consumers (their Tiger sweatshirts have been both street-style staples and huge sellers).

Their latest coup? Hiring the talents behind Toilet Paper to art direct their surreal new ad campaign, which stars Asian actress Rinko Kikuchi and model Sean O’Pry, alongside a tiger-striped hound.

Kenzo Fall 2013

An experimental, picture-based magazine, Toilet Paper is the brainchild of artist Maurizio Cattelan, advertising photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari and art director Micol Talso.

It’s a world of “ambiguous narratives and a troubling imagination”, that has delighted the fashion set since it was first founded in 2010, but this is the first time the Toilet Paper trio have collaborated with a luxury label.

Kenzo held a special Independence Day BBQ in Paris to launch the campaign, which will be featured in international magazine titles from September onwards.

Kenzo Fall 2013 campaign

KENZO Vans 2013

Leopard theme for new Kenzo / Vans collaboration

vans kenzo spring 2013

The theme of the fourth capsule collection by skate shoe brand Vans and luxury brand Kenzo is the Asian-inspired “Clouded Leopard.” The motif also features heavily in Kenzo’s spring 2013 collection.

Following a trip to Thailand, Kenzo’s creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon were inspired by leopard print. This explains why it appears in many pieces in the brand’s new collection.

The new range of Vans designed in partnership with Kenzo also takes leopard print as its key theme. The Vans Authentic and Slip-On Vans are covered in Clouded Leopard in a variety of colors (ochre, orange, blue, green and khaki).

This exclusive collection is available in Kenzo boutiques and on the e-shop as well as in Opening Ceremony, Colette, and Lane Crawford. Prices start at €90.