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  • Miles Socha

Kenzo RTW Spring 2021

Felipe Oliveira Baptista found a photo of beekeepers during confinement, cueing lots of colorful netting and blurred florals for his sophomore show.

Luxury honey has become a thing, with Kering bottling the sweet stuff from bees that feed on the lavender fields at its almost pastoral Paris headquarters, while Louis Vuitton does the same on its rooftop, sharing the bounty as corporate gifts packaged like a scented candle.

A small jar was left on every stool at Kenzo’s spring show in a quaint Left Bank park, insects buzzing around the patches of wildflowers, and models shrouded in colorful netting circling a fountain to Art of Noise’s sweeping “Moments in Love.”

In his second show for the LVMH-owned brand, Felipe Oliveira Baptista kept up his narrative of wanderlust and protection, while dialing up the utility features of his enveloping silhouettes. Light parkas, knit shift dresses and track pants all unzipped to reveal panels of netting for aeration, to change the length or shape of garments – or just for fashion kicks.

While some of the net cocoons would look gimmicky off a gravel runway during Paris Fashion Week, the collection had a breezy, appealing mood with its crisp and light fabrics, blurred floral prints, vivid colors and outdoorsy spirit.

During a preview, Baptista said he ran across photos of beekeepers while in confinement, and their “soft protection” was the balm he had been searching for amid the sorrow and anxiety the pandemic has wrought. Energized by the practical nature of this workwear, and of bees as a precious regulator of our wounded planet, he dialed up the functional and transformable features of his clothes, even merging some with utility bags.

He reasoned that practical clothes that are easy to wear run deep in the DNA set by the label’s founder Kenzo Takada, as do flowers like poppies and hortensias, which were cheerful despite the fact that he gave them a “digital crying effect.”

Dangling apron strings and random cutouts didn’t do some of the clothes any favors, but Baptista’s overall intention – to transmit fun and optimism – came through. He even printed a newspaper for Kenzo’s physical show with a long confessional letter, signing off with the advice: “Be caring, be brave, be a tiger.”


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