Kenzo Pops in Paris

Published September 24, 2012

ABOVE: MARIS LUISA POUMAILLOU, HUMBERTO LEON, AND CAROL LIM. 

The Kenzo revamp under the Creative Direction of Carol Lim and Humberto Leon of Opening Ceremony is entering its third season, with the Spring 2013 show scheduled next Sunday at Paris’s Maison du Judo. Not since the days when Kenzo Takada was at the helm of his namesake house, prior to his retirement in 1999, has Kenzo the brand been so neon bright, pattern-filled, and sexy; proof that Lim and Leon know how to extract contemporary gold from fashion’s past. The pair were on hand at Paris’ Printemps department store the other evening complete with limited edition decks of Kenzo Tarot cards for a psychic fête. A Kenzo shop will open on Printemps’ third floor next year, but in the meantime, there’s a big Kenzo outpost at Maria Luisa, the store’s creative hub on the second floor where Maria Luisa Poumaillou has introduced finicky Parisians to a steady lineup of the world’s young fashion talent, including Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Christopher Kane, and every up-and-coming brand that attracts her critical eye.

Lim and Leon were mum about their plans for next season’s collection, but if this season’s acrobatic neon campaign shot by Jean Paul Goude, which features models Xiao Wen and Simon Sabbahjoined at the hip and splitting their legs to form a graphic X, is any indication, Kenzo’s disco past when he spent his nights dancing with boys, girls, and magnums at Paris’s Palace should show up somewhere in the mix.

For Poumaillou, the choice of Lim and Leon to bring Kenzo back into the pink is “the most inspired casting I’ve seen in a long time. I knew them from Opening Ceremony, they were also customers at my store and they were the first to buy my brand when I started a few seasons back,” she said. “People tend to forget that Kenzo back in the 1970’s was just this happy Japanese kid who loved Paris. His clothes were about having fun.” What Poumaillou especially appreciates is the duo’s complete lack of a fashion complex. “They’ve drawn looks straight from Yves Saint Laurent, like bow blouses and pleated pants  from his ’70s hey-day, put them in orange then mixed it all with ultra mode in a funky L.A. flea market way for a collection that isn’t too intellectual, or conceptual. That’s something a European designer, even Stefano Pilati when he was designing YSL would never dare do. But coming from them everybody loves it.”