Nigo is a very diligent student in his role as artistic director of Kenzo. Among his discoveries from trawling the archives of the late Kenzo Takada was that the Japanese designer worked with annual themes, rather than seasonal ones. And so Nigo didn’t stray far from the wholesome, retro and slightly preppy look of his coed debut last January.
“I want people to understand the direction I’m going,” he said during a preview a few days before the show. “So it’s a natural extension of what I did last time, but appropriate for the summer.”
Nigo also found photos from the archive of a Kenzo show from the ‘80s that resembled a “school sports day.” And so he hung giant college pennants from the rafters and installed stadium seats in the vast gymnasium at the handsome Parisian high school Lycée Carnot.
But it was students and spectators, not athletes, that filed out in their glossy loafers and two-tone brogues wearing a mashup of school uniforms, sailor clothes, American workwear and varsity essentials.
The clothes were crisp, generously branded and meticulously crafted from traditional fabrics. During the preview, Nigo noted that all the denim is now sourced in Japan and produced to his exacting specifications.
On the runway, the dark, wide-legged jeans looked smart, and jeans jackets were edged in eyelet for women, and funked up with leopard-print fluff for men. There were handsome varsity jackets decked out with middy collars, Kenzo Paris lettering and other brand emblems, plus sweet puff-sleeved cotton dresses.
At times the clashing plaids and overtly retro styling diminished the overall charm of the presentation. But the mood in the stands lifted during the finale, when models filed up the stairs and stood in rows on a balcony furiously waving colorful Kenzo pennants.
On their way out, guests could pause for a glass of Champagne or a stick of pink candy floss.
As Alice Cooper sang, “School’s out for summer.”