Kenzo treks to the vivid Asian jungle
PARIS—Kenzo understands color.
For spring-summer 2013, the French house founded by a Japanese designer travelled to the South Asian jungle -- to return with one of the strongest and subtly vivid menswear collections of the season.
"We were inspired by a trip to Thailand last year," said one half of the design duo, Humberto Leon.
Down the catwalk trekked bright camouflage prints, deer-stalker hats and even canteens with a harness to stay hydrated.
"I wanted to give people a survival kit: everything they might need if they were stranded in the jungle," added Leon.
But the flirtation with the tropics was just the far-flung concept.
The true strength of the show lay with its grounded and subtle working of tonal color -- a trick that few designers manage to grasp.
Light short-sleeved shirts with rolled sleeves and wide Asian-style deep-pleated pants came in yellow, blue and orange.
But the clothes' color was muted, not primary: a careful effect produced by carefully dying material to an exactly matching tonal strength.
The rare result was comfortable harmony.
It invoked founder Kenzo Takada's key philosophy: Clothes should be wearable.
Flashes of vivid color occasionally punctuated the muted palette.
Camouflage print in flashes of bright jewel tones made sure of that -- print, another of Takada's codes given good mileage here.
The intense, hazy patterns perfectly captured the rainforest's dappled light, while referencing busy Asian fabric patterning.
One of the must-haves of the show was a pair of pleated baggy pants in florid vermilion.
On their sophomore outing in menswear, Leon and his design partner Carol Lim passed with flying colors.
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