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In Case You Missed It: Kenzo's New Collection From Paris Fashion Week

Nigo melds the grammar of the house’s archives with that of his own sensibility in the collection with an “impractical workwear” concept.

The Kenzo women’s and men’s wardrobe for autumn-winter 2022 is an authentic one with a progressive spin. For his debut collection, Nigo, the first Japanese designer to front the house since its founder Kenzo Takada, infuses the pieces with the maison’s heritage, but also ensures to meld in his own contemporary codes and influences from his upbringing and career. Stars like YE, Julia Fox, Pharrell Williams, Jessica Wang and Twins Habdan converged at Paris’s Galerie Vivienne, the same arcade Takada presented his own first fashion show, to see exactly how the Maebashi-born designer has pulled it off.

While looking to the future by learning from the past, the Artistic Director turns traditional ideas of formal, sports and streetwear into one rationale, real-to-wear, a blend of tailoring and workwear, both cutting a genderless silhouette. The collection focuses on pieces rather than looks, so here’s a breakdown with a detailed look at them.

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Nigo, born Tomoaki Nagao, sees us stepping out in reversible souvenir bomber jackets inspired by those historically commissioned in kimono fabrics by the American occupying forces in Japan. While the wool side features a map of France embroidery, the silk side is embellished with a map of Japan.

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Additionally, nylon aviation jackets lined in shearling continue the US military theme, while varsity and graduation jackets, the latter covered in prints of Takada’s original sketches, are added to the mix.

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Tailoring and Workwear

Deconstructed tailoring is mostly influenced by the Takada archives. Suits featuring the Prince of Wales checks and pinstripes used by the founder appear in washed wools.

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Takada’s three-button jacket is reiterated in mid-length Harris Tweed coats and checked biker jackets.

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Plus, there are durable coverall jackets, as well as workwear emblazoned with the elegant archival Poppy Print.

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Japanese Composition

Nigo, who is learning the art of Akae pottery from the master potter Fujimura Shuji, decorates garments in remixes of his teacher’s hand-painted trimmings.

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The motifs go alongside tailoring garments inspired by the samue workwear worn by Japanese potters.

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The bib-like tops come with lines evocative of the kimono structure layered with a traditional hanten, which becomes a wrapped coat in double-faced wool or a cropped jacket in wool flannel for both sexes.

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This form language hybridises into a kind of dresses and salopettes, while apron-like garments worn for the practice of the tea ceremony incorporate folds in which practitioners traditionally place the tools used in their art.

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Japanese denim

Reverberating with the duality of the collection, denim pieces using Japanese denim represent a balance between the rugged and the very refined.

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Jean trousers, jackets and salopettes with yellow topstitching feature generous volumes founded in the workwear silhouette and appear in clean washes, brut, or stonewash with pigment-printed flowers.

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The new season’s knitwear is rich in colour and texture. Takada’s sculptural collars are spotted on knitted tops and manifest as maxi-snoods.

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Fair isle comes alive via a Kenzo sensibility in jumpers, cardigans, vests, dresses and leggings, while chunky American college jumpers are emblazoned with varsity patches, the Poppy Print and the Boke Flower motif, created by the present Artistic Director.

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Nigo decodes the maison’s tiger in a new Aka-e Tiger watercolour motif, a Tiger Varsity graphic and in the big cat’s stripes, which appear across garments too.

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Nigo, who often throws in animal graphics, is bringing back Takada’s feline stuffed-animal scarves. The accessories range also includes oversized casquettes and field caps, interpreting American classics through a Japanese lens.

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And true to the collection’s idea of “impractical workwear”, desert boots and work boots with brothel creeper soles are embellished with flower prints. Bags, meanwhile, reimagine designs found in the KENZO archive and cover them in the archive Pop Bouquet flower print and the Tamari Monogram, a new geo-pattern. Reversible pouch bags are embroidered with the maps of Japan and France seen on the souvenir jackets, and lastly, as a tribute to Takada, medals used as ornamentation on garments are forged in his signature profile.

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Nigo, who just happens to be born the very same year KENZO was founded (1970), shares Takada’s understanding of the synthesis between Japanese and western wardrobe traditions. The two also believe that what is seen on a runway should manifest in real life. While Takada was building his maison in Paris, Nigo was playing out his teenage years in Japan amid the subcultural 1980s’ revival of 1950s’ Americana. Amplified by the country’s post- WWII links with American culture, the style would go on to reinforce the designer’s aesthetic and draw a natural line between the Japanese-western territories occupied by his work before joining KENZO.

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Known as a DJ, record producer and entrepreneur as well, Nigo’s show soundtrack featured an exclusive preview of his upcoming album, “I Know Nigo.” The album features contributions from A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, Pharrell Williams, Pusha T, Teriyaki Boyz, Tyler, the Creator and Lil Uzi Vert.

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