A Celebration of Kenzo Takada in Kenzo’s Fall/Winter 2021 Collection

The menswear pieces showcased in Kenzo’s fall/winter 2021 show was exciting and, more importantly, meaningful…

The passing of Kenzo Takada late last year was a devastating blow for Felipe Oliveira Baptista, Art Director of the brand. Yet, as numb as he felt, Baptista was back at work the following Monday. As it happens, it was also time for him to start working on Kenzo’s new collection. Baptista knew that this couldn’t be just a tribute to the late Kenzo Takada, his work and incredible vision. It had to be a celebration of everything the man was and still is. So, with the help of Oliver Hadlee Pearch, the fall/winter 2021 collection was presented as an artistic movie.

“Nothing new could come out of just a polite and reverential look back at Kenzo’s amazing legacy” he expressed about the collection. “Space must be allowed for intuition, instinct, surprises, and accidents. Nothing new can be achieved without these. I have started by watching all of the (recently restored) videos of Kenzo’s shows from 1978 until 1985. Although I already knew all the clothes and collections from the archives, photos, drawings, magazines. To see all these great garments in movement opened a new perspective into Kenzo’s world. Suddenly his vocabulary gained a whole new palette of colors.”

The possibilities of a new world, without borders, prejudices, and stereotypes were expressed in new narratives, reflected through collage, cut, paste, erase, draw, turn them inside out, then upside down, dissect them, pull them apart, and back together again. Kenzo stood for freedom, joy, diversity, love of nature and creating harmony out of contrasts, as Baptista wanted color and prints to reflect all of this.

In the movie, the models strolled and wondered in a state of vibrant jubilation, grace and cheekiness. Everything seemed so organic and effortless, sensual and emotional. In a way, very much the contrary of what so much of fashion has become: formulated, safe and predictable. There were selected few pieces from the archives of Kenzo and Baptista’s creation. Then started a long process of trying the clothes on, photographing and studying them in movement.

As the offering to Kenzo of all things that have been cherished, landscapes, hortensias, birds, chains, roses, stripes, pansies, tulips and cocktail glasses… all mixed together in an imaginary colorful feast. Although confined in Paris, between home and work travelled runs through the minds, creativity as a form of antidote to our current situation. The creation is the new elixir. The magic and beauty of travel, a tribute to nomad peoples and minds.

The joy and thrill of arriving somewhere new, unexpected and untouched. A visceral yearning for life. A visceral lust for freedom.