Kenzo Heads Sky High at Pitti

Kenzo is no new name to menswear, but its creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony are still in the early stages of their mission to bring the brand’s bright colors and patterns up to contemporary speed, so the sense of anticipation was high last night at Florence’s Mercato Centrale di San Lorenzo to see the Fall/Winter 2013.

The show was on the high side too. Rushing past the market’s shuttered stalls, it took a while to figure out that the evening’s action was high above the hams and mushrooms on an airy, smoke-filled floor atop the mercato reached by a narrow staircase. Lim and Humberto enlisted producer and remix man Jamie xx for the sound and in a namesake nod to the city, Florence Welch, of Florence and the Machine sat front row center. As Florence has collaborated with Canadian rapper Drake and Jamie xx, this felt kind of like a family affair, or something.

The Kenzo man is high as well, dressed in fleecy lamb coats in baby blue and cloud covered sweatshirts with baby blue wool tailoring and dramatically color-blocked ski tops. The detailing was minimal and the shapes—pilot coats and cabans over skinny trousers—are graphic and on the large, standout side with the concepts of sport and tailoring freely mixed for a kind of sleek, street style. The all-over cloud prints on blousons, overcoats, shirts and soft pants ranging from dawn pale through a devilish red-hued dusk felt like a spacey take on camouflage, a kind of fuzzy wuzzy uniform for the spiritually inclined with a sense of humor and an urge to dance. A closer look at the celestial patterns reveals lightning bolts, raindrops and stars in the clouds with the Kenzo tiger “reincarnated as a double-headed flying creature” interspersed with dragons and serpents.

“Whenever Carol and I visit a new city we always try to go where the locals go and so Florence’s market was a natural choice for us,” said Humberto Leon backstage before the show. The pair even attached a list of their own market faves to the collection notes so the next time you’re in Florence take their cue and head for Dal 1898 Bar Bellini for coffee and a snack and visit Bronzini and Lombardi for the best salami and balsamic vinegar. As for the collection, Leon said it was “about the things that happen above.” After Spring’s jungle exploration, Kenzo has headed for the heavens for fall and in Lim and Leon’s imaginative hands this appears to be a mystical jungle of the mind. “It’s a departure,” said Leon. “Looking at the sky allowed us to play with ideas of reality and non reality and to be free and creative.”