Nigo Breathes New Life Into Kenzo For AW22
If any one person can fill a vacuum with noise, it’s Nigo. In fact, the excitement surrounding the event and presentation of his debut collection for the label is what has been making most of the headlines this season. The runway show itself was a veritable who’s who of musicians, artists and other well-known creative personnel from within Nigo’s impressive inner circle, with the likes of Pharrell, Kanye West, Pusha T, J Balvin and Sik-K forming a dream team of front row attendees.
The venue, Paris’ Galerie Vivienne, was of huge significance itself, being the site at which a young Kenzo Takada purchased a small gallery unit and presented his first show under the name ‘Jungle Jap’ in 1970. Takada had only recently arrived from Japan and was looking for a way to express (and celebrate) his identity as an outsider. The infusion of bold colouring and patterning into his textiles was his way of bringing “something very Japanese” into his Jungle Jap collection, a foundation upon which the house has been built ever since. Nigo’s notoriously steadfast dedication to authenticity in his art lends further credence to his appointment, as it aligns perfectly with Takada’s original vision for the label.
This is true even down to the way in which Nigo plans to release elements of the collection in monthly drops, parallelling Takada’s own early release strategies, in which he would forgo the conventional ‘seasonal’ selling windows in favour of a more bullish ‘sell it all now’ approach. Of course, the more pertinent talking point here, however, is Nigo’s collection being awash with homages to Kenzo’s most iconic archival designs and tasteful references to Japanese culture on a wider spectrum. The poppy print, arguably the linchpin to his entire collection, is deeply symbolic of Kenzo’s fascination with flowers, as evidenced by his earliest designs, designs which often heavily featured fields of colourful flowers. That referential aesthetic is immediately observable in the ‘Pop Bouquet’ accessories and boke flower-printed silhouettes from our latest showcase. Even his insistence on utilising Japanese denim, rather than its more accessible European counterpart, speaks to his obsessive compulsion with authenticity and his determination to steer the label back in the direction of its original roots.
Nigo’s involvement with Kenzo not only feels like an entirely natural marriage of heritage and innovation but it also has the feeling of one of those iconic moments in time that can often shape the destiny of a label. A landmark juncture that we’ll all someday look back upon and unanimously surmise: ‘that was the moment when everything changed’. Perhaps that’s just premature romanticism on our part, but what cannot be refuted is the sensational impact that Nigo has had during his very first season at the label and that we should certainly expect great things for the future of house Kenzo.