Humberto Leon and Carol Lim haven't exactly had a hard time attracting fans to their Kenzo revival—their logo sweatshirts are positively legion among the cool kids this season. But this morning's energetic show clicked in a way that their two previous outings never quite did. We promise you, come next Spring those cult sweatshirts will have nothing on their jean jackets, which featured the designers' new theme writ large on their backs: Kenzo Jungle Japan.
Jungle Jap, of course, was the store that put Kenzo Takada on the Paris map back in the seventies. (Bonus points to anyone who knows that the original shop was located in the 2nd arrondissement's Passage Choiseul.) After the show today, Leon said, "We wanted to start from the beginning, to breathe new life into the idea of the jungle." For inspiration, the duo visited the real thing in Thailand; the rocks that people received with their invites are souvenirs from the trip.
In keeping with their starting point, utility gear and exotic prints were the two big stories. On the one hand, the designers cut off-the-shoulder dresses in sturdy cotton poplin, morphed safari jackets into jumpsuits, and accessorized their knee-high boots with waterproof waders. On the other, an oversize leopard print came supersized in neon brights (on a strappy orange sundress it almost looked like flowers), and a botanical print practically pulsed with diagonal tiger stripes. Prints may have dropped off the Paris radar this season, but not at Kenzo. For one, they're essential to the brand DNA, and for another, the contemporary market the label is cheerfully courting is usually a season or two behind high-end designers. Among the refreshing things about Leon and Lim's approach is its lack of pretensions.
All of this and more of their monster-hit sweatshirts, this time embroidered with prowling cats, played out against giant backdrops upon which the team projected a psychedelic video by Kenzo Digital. Yes, Kenzo is Mr. Digital's real first name. That synergy was symbolic of the good things that are happening at Kenzo right now.