Only a season and a half in, Kenzo is firmly in the hands of Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. The two wasted no time putting their distinctive stamp on the French house, and fortune, even in fashion, favors the brave. They began by tweaking the logo, etching KENZO in line scratches, which then got tufted onto capital-K sweaters, turned into animal key chains, and even abstracted to become the basis of a windowpane pattern that appears in both the women's and men's collections. They're extending their touch down almost to the microscopic level.
All this isn't to say that Leon and Lim aren't respectful of the house's long-established codes. What's key for Kenzo is what has long been: print, for one; color, for another. "Print is very important for the collection and for the brand," Leon said at its Paris showroom. But the twist comes from the oddly unidentifiable prints he and Lim designed, which merge animal and floral to create something abstract: "We really wanted the print to go away."
That's the kind of push and pull that can bring new juice to a longstanding concern like Kenzo, and early signs are promising. The playful new collection of minidresses and suiting separates, most nipped in at the waist in keeping with the season-defining trend, was splashy and fun. Some were piled to the point of excess with bright color (a nod to one of the line's inspirations, fluorescent artist Dan Flavin) or print, but you might chalk that up to lookbook enthusiasm. If there's one thing the designers emphasize, it's ease. "Easy outfits are very Kenzo," they said.