The quintessence of KENZO‘s fashion credo was embraced recently when the International Port’s Cruise Terminal in Shanghai was transformed into an exquisite fashion canvas. The megacity’s modern towers formed an evocative backdrop for KENZO’s debut parade in China, an eloquent echo of its Paris Spring/Summer 2024 collection, unveiled in June. The event eloquently etched Artistic Director Nigo‘s objective to intertwine the East and West through fashion, underlining KENZO’s legacy while simultaneously embracing contemporary vision.
Amid the shimmering panorama of the Huangpu River, Nigo’s Shanghai show illuminated his reimagined signature looks. It was an avant-garde take on the Parisian footbridge connecting the Palais de Tokyo and the Eiffel Tower, a tangible homage to the fusion of Eastern and Western aesthetics. As Sylvain Blanc, KENZO’s chief executive officer, indicated, the Paris show’s location was picked with the Shanghai vista already in mind, aiming to foster a distinct “East meets West” synergy.
Dubbed “City Pop Paris,” the collection flirted with a “real-to-wear” wardrobe, painstakingly curated through the prismatic lens of “new generation” elegance. The silhouettes, a harmonious blend of traditional Japanese influences and Western wardrobes, bore testimony to the creative dialogue between Nigo and his long-time friend, the Japanese artist Verdy. The judo uwagi was charmingly recontextualized as a work jacket, and the seigaiha – an age-old print featuring waves – was tastefully revisited in indigo.
Women’s silhouette echoed elegance, aided by the delicate layering of translucent fabrics graced with modernized archive patterns. Verdy’s interpretation of the KENZO logo in his iconic font adorning the clothing and accessories lent an artist’s touch to the collection. It was a palpable nod to Kenzo Takada’s legacy and the City Pop trend that marked his career’s key moments, the latter a significant influence on Nigo’s work.
The soundtrack, created by Cornelius, a friend and collaborator of Nigo since the 1990s, set the tempo of the show. It echoed the designer’s affection for City Pop through a score reflective of the genre, a blend of pop, funk, and boogie that marked Nigo’s adolescence in 1980s Japan.
The fashion spectacle captivated more than 300 guests and celebrities, creating a flurry of excitement on the social media platform Weibo with over 20 million mentions. Despite a year-long wait for local government approval and looming typhoon scares, the night unfolded impeccably, serving as a testament to KENZO’s steadfast resolve to deepen its connection with the Chinese market.
KENZO joins a group of luxury brands like DIOR and Bottega Veneta that have chosen to meet shoppers on their home turf, a strategy aiming to heighten brand awareness, foster local engagement, and drive growth in these COVID-impacted times. Following the parade, the buzz continued with an exclusive global launch event for the KENZO Pace runner in Beijing.
With its recently revamped retail concept and vibrant red logo, KENZO is steadily expanding its footprint in China, a clear sign of its long-term commitment to engaging with Chinese consumers. A delightful fusion of the past and the present, East and West, KENZO’s Shanghai show was a symphony of cross-cultural fashion collaboration. It’s a celebration of the brand’s legacy and the potential it holds for the future, perfectly embodied by Nigo’s innovative vision.
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