When I go to Tokyo Fashion Week in ten days' time, will I see anything so intrinsically Asian as the Kenzo show here? I felt this even though the original Kenzo Takada lived in Paris, and built his label on wanderlust, and current designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim are Asian-American, rather than Japanese.
It is hard to define the mix of the cute, the streamlined and the sporty that makes up the current, global look of Kenzo. But the duo has grasped how to move the brand forward — literally in the case of remote-controlled platforms that progressed into the vast room, displaying the colourful clothes.
"We always want the shows to feel spectacular, and for people to walk away with an impression," said Humberto backstage. "We feel the spirit of Kenzo; we channel our inner Japanese with this brand. We want the heritage to be apparent and for Kenzo Takada to sit in the audience and feel: 'they are thinking of me.'"
It is rare for designers revitalising a brand to be quite so willing to please the founder, rather than taking a more pugnacious stance, as when Alexander McQueen took over Givenchy. This Kenzo collection was nothing like the label's original 1970s style, yet it expressed a similar sense of freedom.
The basic looks included macramé-type knit with a portrait neckline. The bottom half was a short A-line skirt worn with lattice thigh-high boots or flat sandals, which seemed powerful rather than seductive.
Where Humberto and Carol excel is in their modern attitude to prints, which are digital and graphic; to colours, which were mostly primary — red blue and yellow; and in the understanding that there is not one style today, but many. A floor-sweeping dress in a red-and-blue pattern looked just as relevant as the short skirts.
The design duo said that they had thought of a young woman dressing with a nonchalant mix of things from her global travels. Hence bits of hardware as if from a traveller's backpack, and bits of swimwear worn as underwear. Let's just call it twenty-first century wanderlust.