September 29, 2013 Paris
Since signing on at Kenzo, Lim and Leon have been fairly reverent of the Kenzo Takada codes, even as they've tweaked them for their social-media-mad young fans. This season was the first time that they've used their personal history as a guide, and it proved a good move. Born mixologists, they wove together sea motifs, surf culture, and references to L.A.'s underground music scene in the new collection. For a venue, they chose Luc Besson's film studio La Cité du Cinéma; as Left Coasters, "the Hollywood of Paris" is a natural fit. And where else but on a movie set could they have created the waterfall that flowed the entire duration of the show, or the drums that sprayed water to the beat of the music?
The collection's melting-fish print stands a very good chance of becoming the Kenzo Eye of Spring '14. Those pieces will get snapped up by the label's acolytes. As usual with Lim and Leon, this show was chock-full of prints, and they weren't without cheek. The scribbled blue waves eventually turned red. If we don't stop overfishing, the color shift seemed to suggest, things won't end well. Activism aside, where Lim and Leon made advances was with the fabrics—not the neoprene, which is a touch predictable by now, but with a glossy tech material that looked like it had been submerged in water and came out glistening. The tailoring was ingenious in its own way, too, with back vents cut into jackets and dresses, as the designers said, to let the breeze in. All around, an enlivening experience.