Kenzo, Aalto in ‘see now, buy now’ mode at Paris Fashion Week
After Marques Almeida, it was the turn of Kenzo and Aalto to introduce a ‘see now, buy now’ format at the current Paris Fashion Week. Kenzo did not show last September in order to set up the new project, which the LVMH-owned label revealed on Wednesday night in the course of an exhilarating show-performance, a unique experience in which the audience was literally swept along a moveable feast of a show.
A dark, intimate room. A man strides forward jerkily, automaton-like, soon followed by a group of people. They are all dancers, clad in the Memento N°4 collection, which will go on sale the next day at Kenzo stores and on its e-shop. A first for the line inspired by Kenzo’s fashion archives, launched by the label in 2017.
This season, Kenzo refashioned its oversize tomato prints, featuring yellow fruits cheerily stacked along the legs of a black pair of trousers, and red ones arrayed on a green shirt, on short-sleeved blouses, turtleneck sweaters and a few long skirts. The label’s signature tiger head popped up on other shirts and tops, while the back of a sport jacket was inscribed with the words ‘Kenzo Tokyo Paris’.
“Delving into the archives, we were once again surprised at finding so many items with such creative, exciting printed motifs. … For the fourth instalment [of the Memento line], we decided to celebrate Kenzo Takada’s playful, whimsical side, his unwavering ability to transmit his ironic take on things to the fashion world, and above all his love for food and fun,” wrote the label’s creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon. The Japanese designer, who founded the eponymous label in 1970 and is turning 80 this month, first used these tomato prints in 1992.
Wearing these joyous clothes, the dancers launched into a performance blending multiple musical influences, from Africa to the Caribbean and even Oceania, sometimes improvising hip hop solos. The dancers advanced as a group towards the spectators, and the latter slid back imperceptibly, as the bleachers started to shift, gradually mixing more and more within the cast’s energetic dance.
As if by magic, the audience split, grouping together into various sets of bleachers, which moved forward and backward in synch with the choreography by Paul Sadot and Nquobulé Danseur. Heads started spinning as the bleachers turned on the spot, crossed paths or joined in the shuffle going round and round the room, making the audience lose its bearings. A fascinating experience.
Earlier in the afternoon, Aalto staged a more traditional show, though the guests had to walk across the Galeries Lafayette department store, as the staff and customers looked on in puzzled amazement, to reach a sort of extension under construction where the show was held.
Galeries Lafayette is collaborating with Aalto designer Tuomas Merikoski, having struck an exclusive deal to sell, right after the catwalk show, four items from the collection: a hat, a t-shirt, a scarf and a handbag.
“We wanted to test the ‘see now, buy now’ formula to have a closer relationship with clients. The hat in particular is a tribute to France,” said Merikoski backstage. “The novelties this season are the hood and hat integrated with the clothes,” he added.
Aalto’s headgear is enhanced by hats, more often than not a beret or a sou’wester. Heads were therefore well-protected, also by windcheaters with berets on top, inevitably looking like hijabs, or with scarves knotted at the neck, chastely covering the hair.
Merikoski’s Autumn/Winter 2019-20 collection is deeply rooted in the designer’s native Finland, actually a rather quirky ‘Finlaand’, as the collection was designated, with a play on Aalto’s double a. Merikoski notably worked with curved shapes, creating overcoats, jackets and dresses slightly cinched at the waist to contour the hips, or adding a string of gently undulating buttons on a shirt, echoing the curves of the optical prints on the psychedelic coat worn over the same outfit. The generously cut, high-waisted trousers, featured also in knitted wool, were especially attractive.
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