Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are going back to Cali. That's where they're from, but only after learning how much Parisians dream about the Golden State did they realize they were ready to reference their suburban upbringings for Kenzo's menswear and Resort collections. Capturing an unaffected style without dipping into nostalgia was Lim and Leon's smartest move, but there were plenty of others. For starters, they shifted away from digital prints, instead toying with imperfect washed-out marker stripes and hand-drawn graphic palm fronds (sometimes painted directly onto fabric or leather). The other message was tailoring 2.0. Double-pointed hemlines—the detail inherent to men's vests—appeared on miniskirts and trim jacquard jackets. They gave tweed knit the sculpted shape of neoprene and bonded a cotton/linen blend to create a clean-edged coat in Barbie pink.
From an Astroturf-covered terrace at the designers' Paris office building, Leon explained how they mimicked the grooves of an egg crate (see: trash bags lining their suburban streets) by cutting and pulling fabric from the inside. The wet effect on a cropped cotton shirt was the result of twisting and glazing the thread before it was woven. At this point, you start to understand just how committed Leon and Lim are to furthering the Kenzo innovation credo but within a more personal, laid-back context.
Fabric research and development begins for Lim and Leon eight to ten months before designing, which means they have already determined Resort 2015. This is what they love doing the most, said Lim. In the immediate future, they are throwing a Fourth of July barbecue party in Paris—because you can't take the California out of these two, and nor should you.