The KENZO Fall-Winter 2024 Women’s and Men’s Collection evolves the Maison’s new elegance established by Artistic Director Nigo through a study of cross-cultural exchange. As the custodian of the house built by Kenzo Takada – a fellow Japanese designer in the French capital –Nigo considers the introduction of non-Western influences to the domain of Paris fashion key to his practice. In a cinematic analogy of that transition, Nigo is guided by George Lucas’ use of the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa in the successful creation of the Star Wars universe: an original, complete fantasy culture like no other.
The exploration unfolds in details and silhouettes rooted in Japanese tradition but infused with the associations of sci-fi-related uniforms: a kimono coat imbued with the lines of a warrior cape, a weave inspired by the wood print of a Japanese hakeshi baten fireman’s jacket evoking an ancient-future graphic, or a plissé dress draped like the cloak of a space fiction heroine. A miniature dot pattern informed by the Edo Komon of fifteenth-century kimonos re-manifests as a star constellation in prints and embroideries. Throughout, nods to the Western utility and military wardrobes materialise in flight jackets, cargo suits and shearling jackets, elusively embedded with the codes of another universe.
Mirroring the collection’s premise in music, Nigo pays tribute to the late musicians Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yukihiro Takahashi of the Japanese electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra, known as YMO. In his compositions, Ryuichi Sakamoto took inspiration from Western composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and Claude Debussy, the latter known to be influenced by Asian music himself. Red gakuran school uniforms, worn by Japanese pupils since 1873 and inspired by those of the West, serve as a salute to YMO, who adapted the suit as stage costumes. Created by the artist Cornelius, who played with YMO during their final tour, the show features an original soundtrack in homage to the band.
The women’s silhouette adapts the Maison’s elongated line across body-conscious and looser volumes with gestures of sculpting. Twin-set compositions set the tone for variations on suits, continuously nipped at the waist with judo belts. Dresses, skirts and tops in plissé soleil establish a crafty feel echoed throughout. Women’s tailoring fuses Eastern and Western construction in oversized and fitted forms, while flight and cargo garments appear in elegant cuts. Led by the gakuran schoolboy suit, the men’s silhouette morphs tailored and casual lines likewise expressed in voluminous duffel and car coats and barrel-leg trousers. Occidental/oriental men’s tailoring blends with casualwear informed by military pieces.
Themes and motifs
KENZO Weave patterns influenced by those of Japanese hakeshi baten fireman’s jackets appear in interpretations across nylon, jacquards and denim. Inspired by karakusa – an ancient pattern native to Central Asia by way of China and traditionally used on Japanese furoshiki wrapping cloth, a KENZO Marguerite motif features in print and beaded forms. The Star Tiger is borne out the Edo Komon miniature dots of fifteenth-century kimonos and materialises as beading or sashiko embroidery. The graphic is echoed in KENZO Constellation and Boke Constellation logos inspired by archival imagery employed in lurex embroideries and silver-foil prints. A Cloud Tiger emblem appears in fleece jacquard and rubber prints. Informed by Japanese lattice prints, the Bamboo Tiger pattern manifests in jacquards. As a tribute to YMO, a KENZO Business ideogram of five briefcase-carrying men draws inspiration from the band’s merchandise.
Materials and techniques
Texture takes centre stage in faux fur, three-dimensional knitting, sci-fi-esque metallics and in the jacquards that bring the collection’s motifs to life. Gakuran suits are crafted in technical wools and denim in red, black and khaki. Heavy-duty cottons materialise in cargo silhouettes, while nods to the military wardrobe take shape in shearling, leather and cotton. Denim appears in drake hues and acid washes. Kimono constructions are re-contextualised in quilted nylon, denim, and tailoring and shirting fabrics. Shiny rib jersey and velvet cement an elegant elongated women’s silhouette. Intricate knitwear incorporates beading, embroidery and metallic stitching.
The KENZO Furoshiki bag transforms the Japanese art of wrapping and knotting of the same name into a women’s silhouette in soft calf leather and textured suede. With locks and buckles informed by the hinges of the 1990s’ Pagadon bag, the KENZO Sakura is a small women’s satchel inspired by Kenzo Takada’s ribbon patchwork proposed in box calf leather, ponyskin or suede. The KENZO Discover is a futuristic men’s bag imbued with the properties of tactical gear and transformed into jacket bags, a one-strap backpacks and a regular backpack in shiny tech nylon with leather trims. Infused with the language of 1980s’ advertising bags, it also manifests as a logo bag in textured nylon and webbing in the shape of a cylinder hold-all, a mini hold-all and a messenger.
The collection introduces a new genderless sneaker founded in 1990s’ the skate codes and infused with an air of futurism. Constructed with a mesh-wrapped midsole, it is proposed in leather, suede or neoprene. City shoes take form in the KENZO Biker, a futuristic biker boot inspired by motocross, in the KENZO Yuki, an winter ankle boot in spotted ponyskin, and the KENZO Ukio, a minimal lightweight boot set on sneaker sole. Imbued with a 1970s’ space sensibility, the KENZO Reia is a sharp-toed triangular kitten heel interpreted as fitted thigh-high suede boots, leather mules and stretch-fabric boots.
As a memory of his early years at school, Nigo embellishes garments with the charm and letter chains used by Japanese pupils to customise their gakuran uniforms, which traditionally come with detachable buttons. Metal jewellery further appears forged in the emblems and graphics of the collection. Judo belts feature throughout, worn as waist belts for an elegant nipped-in silhouette. Long gloves pay homage to the language of sci-fi.
Production by Back of the House
Show Music by Cornelius
Content Production by Kitten
Styling by IB Kamara
Casting by Mischa Notcutt for 11 casting
Make up by Lucy Bridge and the Make Up For Ever team
Hair by Hair by Virginie Moreira & the Jean Louis David team using ghd tools
Nails by Ama Quashie