Pattern Crazy at Kenzo, Bernhard Willhelm, and Thom Browne

Published July 2, 2012

Kenzo’s Creative Directors, Opening Ceremony’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, fearlessly entered this spring’s pattern jungle in simple, boyish tailoring and sports shapes covered with mix-and-match mini-florals and abstract camo offered in multiple colorways for walking shorts, camp shirts, billowing coats, varsity jackets, and anoraks. What makes this special are the colors: the pop jungle rusts and metallic turquoises that Kenzo Takada pioneered for his namesake house way back when.

And of course Bernhard Willhelm overdosed on prints. Willhelm’s models posed R.I.P., the better to show off layers and layers and layers of bright kitsch graphics.

Which brings us to Thom Browne, that powerhouse of shock and awe, who took pattern where no menswear has gone before. In a sort of mechanical man-meets-preppy-meltdown, Browne mixed bright patchwork shirt checks and watercolor plaids with lobster and whale patterns for intensely layered and shrunken shapes, all combined with bright knee socks and silver oxfords.

Things were rough and chic at Damir Doma and Lanvin. Maybe it was the hair—shaved in back with long bangs in the front at Lanvin, and slicked back vampire style at Damir Doma—but both collections managed to convey elegance with a slightly menacing gangster edge.

Lanvin’s skinny ties, unforgiving combinations of black and white, and baggy shirts tucked into high-rise, pleated pants all looked ready for a chic rumble. Ditto the dark-boy chic at Damir Doma, who puts his sleeveless black leather biker jacket over a blazer worn with a blood-red shirt and extra-wide black leather boxer shorts. Never has wide and loose looked so tough.