|Opening Ceremony (Left) & Kenzo (Right) All images via style.com|
Paris fashion week for menswear is upon us, and despite the majority of our readers being women, I thought it’d be a refreshing change to cover some of the shows. We’re blessed that we live in a period where fashion is growing increasingly democratic, and is no longer reserved for the European elite. Countless designers have drawn references from youth subcultures such as punk skinheads or Internet millenials, and in turn, we have grown and found our niche in the fashion industry as bloggers and consumers of their product.
Both Opening Ceremony and Kenzo have found strong footholds in the wardrobes of young people globally. Their pieces have always been quirky and lent themselves easily to street style. Colored, patterned, and casual, they aren’t dissimilar brands in terms of style or image. It’s interesting to note then, that both are currently manned by Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. How does this design duo manage to create pieces that suit their target demographic, while simultaneously keeping them distinct enough to represent both Opening Ceremony and Kenzo? While I’m sure it won’t reveal the most thorough answer, perhaps their Fall 2015 collections will be able to speak for themselves:
Opening Ceremony’s influence for this collection was old-school photography. Let me make it clear, however, that this is not the photography that gets washed out in your daily news feed, destined to float forever in digital limbo. These are the photographs that are kept in your mom’s dusty photo albums, hard-copies that hold a glimpse into your past. Partnering with Kodak and Spike Jonze, many of the pieces feature prints of skaters and BMX bikers, truly embodying the raging youth of California culture in the 90’s. Skate culture also manifested itself in the form of longer sleeves on the t-shirt silhouette, reaching the models’ elbows, and through the overall relaxed and boxy fit of the whole collection. The color palette is kept clean with shades of black, gray, blue, and camel, with the rainbow Kodak logo making a sporadic appearance throughout.
Kenzo’s influences are less clear in this collection, perhaps taking cues from garbage men and city road workers. Indeed, a few of the accessories looked like reformulated garbage bags topped off with a thick, rubber cord, while a handful of parkas were also done in a traffic cone shade of orange nylon. Leon and Lim utilized a wide array of texture and color, from a green, shaggy fur to silver metallics. All together, however, I felt the collection lacked cohesion. There were some wonderful coats, but there were also a slew of novelty pieces like the wide-legged metallic pant or the utilitarian jumpsuit in khaki green that distracted my attention. Many of the pieces seemed uninspired, mimicking the outdoorsy Urban Outfitters appeal that we are all too familiar with. It almost renders them out-of-place considering that it’s now 2015.
I felt that Kenzo lacked the proper editing and refining process that could have made the collection a great deal stronger. Conversely, Opening Ceremony excelled in this and produced a clean and neat collection that caters to a young audience without being garishly loud and excessive. It can potentially be argued that this is the difference between Opening Ceremony and Kenzo; this is the line where Leon and Lim can create products that are commercially appealing, and other products that are expressive and less palatable. Regardless, Leon and Lim are excellent at their craft and by having multiple platforms to showcase their work, their successes can only reach a wider array of individuals and multiply.