Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, American ambassadors to France, are translating their native land for the French one region at a time. Having offered their version of California casual last season, the Kenzo creative directors moved to the Pacific Northwest for Fall. "When we used to live in Berkeley, we used to always go north, and we spent a lot of time in those different states," Leon said. "There's a specific way of dressing in them, a really cinematic way. When you think of Americana, that area is always played with."
They erected their own monument to the region—literally, given that the show set consisted of the raw frames of houses, and the decorative motif on clothes and shoes was metal appliqués of "tool monsters." They didn't have the immediate appeal of the Kenzo tigers or evil eyes that have been the totems of previous seasons, but they did lend a menace that helped situate this cinematic production in the spectrum of PNW creepiness somewhere between Gus Van Sant and David Lynch.
The clothes that costumed their cinematic spectacle were darker and choppier than usual: four-button jackets squared at the waist, cropped knitwear, and high straight pants in forest-floor colors of mud and leaf. The designers said they'd obsessed over the functionality of every piece, from the warmth of a down puffer to the grip of a massive-soled boot. Was it this new emphasis that gave the proceedings a more self-consciously serious air than in some seasons past? You can't spell "function" without "fun," but this downplayed the Kenzo pop that's been a signature of its revival under Leon and Lim. Without it, the results weren't as distinctively their own as usual; here and there a whiff of Prada crept in.
Still, the duo has a powerful talent for reframing even the narratives we thought we knew. (Through their collaboration at Opening Ceremony, they helped to spearhead the rebranding of Pendleton, the pride of the Pacific Northwest, as a hipster favorite.) Could they sell Paris on Portland? The Oregon Tourist Board would kill for their reach.