kenzo ss18 show sees all-asian cast

July 21, 2017

words by: Bere Wangge

At its co-ed Spring/Summer 2018 show, Kenzo managed to simultaneously tackle fashion weeks' glaring lack of diversity and honor the brand's heritage. 

In line with the collection's cultural beginnings (the luxury house was founded in 1970 by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada), Kenzo's co-creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim made the call to feature all-Asian models on the runway. The models, including rising stars Manami Kinoshita from Japan and Fernanda Ly from Australia, were clad in a colorful collection inspired by two Japanese personalities: the musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and the late supermodel Sayoko Yamaguchi.

The emphasis on those two icons underscored the theme of duality that appeared throughout the collection. In menswear traditional suiting came together with high-waisted shorts, paired with dance slippers. Stripes - pin-sized or in psychedelic shapes - also dominated the designs.

In womenswear, that duality was translated via distorted references like a faux racing logo and ruffles. Lingerie-like slips became daytime dresses, while trench coats - no longer merely functional fashion items - were cut out of patent leather and embellished with crystals.

Kenzo's look has always embodied "West meets East," blending Japanese and other Asian influences with Parisian style and culture. In 2011, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim - the founders of Opening Ceremony - took over as creative director and head designer of the brand. 

This intentional, representational effort in an oft-white-washed industry is fresh and appreciated.  

All images c/o Kenzo