Kenzo has started a new chapter, with Japanese fashion designer Nigo, best known as the founder of A Bathing Ape, unveiling his debut collection for the fashion house for autumn/winter 2022 during men’s fashion week in Paris.
Nigo, who was named artistic director for LVMH-owned Kenzo in September succeeding Felipe Oliveira Baptista, is the first Japanese designer to front the house since its founder Kenzo Takada. His debut was one of the most anticipated shows during Paris Fashion Week and he didn’t disappoint with a collection filled with preppy workwear silhouettes and modern florals.
Kenzo said that the autumn/winter 2022 collection for men and women was Nigo introducing his vision for the luxury label, a meeting between the Maison’s heritage and Nigo’s own contemporary codes, while also building a brand story at Kenzo with a “considered wardrobe” that will be drip-fed through monthly limit-edition drops.
Entitled ‘Real-to-Wear’, Nigo’s debut collection fuses the influences of his own upbringing and career with the heritage of Kenzo Takada, looking to the fashion house’s archive, while combining formal, sports and streetwear into a collection filled with tailoring and workwear cut to a genderless silhouette with influences from both Japan and Americana.
Souvenir bomber jackets were inspired by those historically commissioned in kimono fabrics by the American occupying forces in Japan. Nigo has designed the jackets to be reversible, with the wool side featuring a map of France embroidered with the silk side embellished with a map of Japan.
Nylon aviation jackets lined in shearling continue the US military theme, while varsity jackets have been emblazoned with 1970 to highlight the year Nigo was born as well as the Kenzo tiger, and white graduation jackets, which graduates would collect hand-written messages from their classmates, has been covered in prints of Kenzo Takada’s original sketches.
Nigo presents his vision for Kenzo in debut autumn/winter 2022 collection
The knitwear showcases Kenzo’s vibrant heritage with Nigo’s graphic lens, creating a rich expression of colour and texture. With chunky American college jumpers emblazoned with varsity patches and floral motifs created by Nigo and fair isle seen on jumpers, cardigans, vests, dresses, and leggings.
The Japanese designer, who is currently learning the art of Aka-e pottery, has used this practice to interpreted the Maison’s tiger in a new watercolour motif, a tiger varsity graphic and in tiger stripes. He has also created new floral prints, seen on tailored garments inspired by the workwear worn by Japanese potters, such as bib-like tops with lines evocative of the kimono structure layered.
The collection also places a spotlight on Japanese denim with trousers, jackets and salopettes with yellow topstitching crafted in workwear silhouettes in clean washes or stonewash with pigment-printed flowers.
While the deconstructed tailoring is largely informed by the archives of Kenzo Takada, with suits in Prince of Wales checks, pinstripes, Harris Tweed coats and checked biker jackets. With sturdy coverall jackets and workwear emblazoned with the elegant archival Poppy Print reflecting Nigo’s idea of “impractical workwear,” explains the show notes.
For the accessories, Nigo has revived the feline stuffed-animal scarves of Kenzo Takada, which marry with his design practice that often involves animal graphics. Oversized casquettes and field caps interpret American classics through a Japanese lens, while brothel creeper soles are embellished with flower prints.
There are also bags reimagined from designs found in the Kenzo archive that have been covered in the archival Pop Bouquet flower print and a new geo-pattern, Tamari Monogram.
The collection also includes a sweet tribute to the founder, with medals used as ornamentation on garments forged in the signature profile of Kenzo Takada himself.