After parting from co-creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim in 2019, KENZO welcomed Portuguese designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista as the new leader of the brand’s image. Fall/Winter 2020, his debut collection for the brand, is a strong statement, demonstrating the disparity of his vision with the ideals of his predecessors.
It’s not necessary to compare a designer’s work with that of their predecessors, but juxtaposing KENZO Spring/Summer 2020 against the new range makes the label’s new direction clear. Gone is the trim sportswear and playful branding, swapped for minimalist luxury. Inspired by the nomadic lifestyle of founder Kenzo Takada, Baptista created versatile transforming garments and wearable art alike, courtesy of artwork sourced from the estate of Portuguese artist Julio Pomar. A gentle, painterly take on the classic KENZO tiger logo is indicative of Baptista’s vision for the brand
Flowing parkas and cargo-pocketed bags lend the understated styling a hint of militaria, underscored by the multipurpose nature of various layering pieces. For instance, down jackets become sleeping bags, reversible coats are monochrome on one side and sport bold prints on the other, and lightweight cocoon dresses utilize zippers to expand and reform. Offsetting the dynamic apparel is a spread of muted leather layers, deceivingly simple tunics and slouchy knitwear, granting a whisper of intimate opulence. Minimalism is currently having another moment, heralded by a host of contemporary womenswear-centric labels — KENZO, with its fresh brand vision and a new logo, appears apt to join them.