Good to see a properly trained professional designer back at Kenzo, as Felipe Oliveira Baptista made his debut for the house on Wednesday with an imposing display of fashion. Oliveira Baptista certainly looks like he has been working hard, riffing on key elements in the Kenzo DNA, from the iconic tigers to the bold abstract colors. Moreover, in a season of volume, the designer was right on target with his enveloping shapes and grand forms.
The debutant’s theme was global travel, recalling founder Kenzo Takada’s famous journey on a cruise liner from Tokyo to France - a youthful ingénue in search of glory and couture in Paris. Most of the cast was wrapped up as if in a gale on that liner; nearly every head covered with cowls, caps and hoods; inclement weather incoming. So much so, some of them looked like rather posh refugees.
Though, the Portuguese-born designer instead referenced his own youth in the Azores, and riffed on a memory of his parents about to stage a parachute jump in Mozambique. Using parachute fabric in billowing floral or pop-art camouflage parkas and cabans to great effect.
However, the standout moments were elongated tunics and djellabas done in mash-up prints where big cats fought it out with abstract expressionist daubs and Francis Bacon-worthy twirls and smears. Again, a peninsular reference to Felipe’s homeland, in this case the Lisboan artist Julio Pomar.
When the nomads finally ended their journey in a big city, they donned military-style leather trench coats or funnel-neck spy coats; accessorized with cartridge or military belts and fanny packs in a co-ed show where the boys and gals wore similar looks. Instead of the sweatshirt-dominated style of his predecessors chez Kenzo, this felt like a complete fashion statement, and wardrobe.