by Stephen Garner

Kenzo founder, Kenzo Takada, passed away on October 4th, 2020. The news was abrupt, sudden, and unexpected. Immediately the internet was inundated with tributes, messages, photos, and videos of Kenzo himself, his work, and life.

“Our acquaintance was brief, nevertheless it felt like I lost someone close to me,” wrote Felipe Oliveira Baptista, artistic director of Kenzo, in the brand’s new collection’s show notes. “The following Monday I was back at work, still numb from the recent shock. Time to start working on the next collection. Where to start? How to transform the grieving into something positive, joyful, free? I knew only one thing. I did not want it to be a tribute, but rather a celebration. A celebration of the man, his work, and incredible vision. Nothing new could come out of just a polite and reverential look back at Kenzo’s amazing legacy.”

So, for Kenzo’s new fall/winter 2021 collection and presentation, Baptista sought to celebrate Takada’s legacy by watching all of the (recently restored) videos of Kenzo’s shows from 1978 until 1985. “Although I already knew all the clothes and collections from the archives, photos, drawings, magazines,” continued Baptista. “To see all these great garments in movement opened a new perspective into Kenzo’s world. Suddenly his vocabulary gained a whole new palette of colors. Here, models strolled and wondered in a state of vibrant jubilation, grace, and cheekiness. Everything seemed so organic and effortless, sensual, and emotional. In a way, very much the contrary of what so much of fashion has become: formulated, safe and predictable. We selected a few pieces from the archives of Kenzo and my own. Then started a long process of trying the clothes on, photographing and studying them in movement.”

Baptista filled sketchbooks with collages, drawings, and pictures of possibilities for the new collection. He wrote that he imagined this collection to be an offering to Takada of all the things he cherished – landscapes, hortensias, birds, chains, roses, stripes, pansies, tulips, and cocktail glasses all mixed together in an imaginary colorful feast.

What resulted was a colorful collection inspired by the magic and beauty of travel, a tribute to nomad peoples and minds. For the collection’s presentation, models run, dance, and celebrate in this season’s newest wares – all for Kenzo Takada

See the full collection presentation below.