Kenzo goes back to high school, Gunther gets a taste of the country club
Two high schools served as backdrops and two interpretations of menswear for the Spring/Summer 2023 season were presented on the morning of the last day of Paris Fashion Week. While Nigo staged his second co-ed show at the helm of Kenzo's creative direction in the gymnasium of the Lycée Carnot, French brand Gunther turned the gardens of the Lycée Victor Duruy on Rue de Babylone into an exclusive country club.
Huge triangular banners bearing the brand's logo or the year 1970 welcomed guests to the event dreamed up by Nigo, who took over as creative director of the LVMH-owned brand last September. His colorful and vintage-inspired style already gave a taste of where Kenzo's latest collection will be heading: casual pieces reminiscent of the academic world, which picks up where the brand's previous fashion show, held at the Galerie Vivienne last January, left off.
Just like the founder of the Japanese brand, Kenzo Takada, DJ and designer Nigo prefers to work with annual themes rather than designing his collections according to the seasons.
The end result was an everyday wardrobe, with pieces inspired by silhouettes or prints from the brand’s archives, which includes references to the multi-faceted Japanese fashion scene of the 80s, merging the Parisian fashion of the moment with local pop brands and staying true to the use of colorful and cartoonish animals.
The lineup included tailored looks such as striped suits, plaid blazers or preppy skirts and shorts; casual workwear reminiscent of 1940s railroad workers; juvenile jumpsuits revisiting Ivy League codes; sporty ensembles; structured garments in Japanese denim and shirts with a tie featuring the same print of an elephant, Takada’s favorite animal.
In a fashion show described as the "Kenzo Brand Boom", the label's name was hijacked on the clothes in the form of logos of different sizes and typography or by incorporating its initials "K" and "KP" on the pockets or breastplates of denim jackets, bombers or large knitted vests.
The show served as a statement of Kenzo's renewed brand identity and the direction Nigo wants to take, with a sophisticated approach to streetwear that is as creative as it is commercial, in which there was no shortage of recognizable bags and backpacks in bright colors and red logos. Footwear included sneakers, Mary Janes and retro-inspired loafers or rubber sandals inspired by the classic Japanese zori.
The must-have piece in most of the looks? Hats in all shapes and colors, from classic bowler hats to berets, from baseball caps to sixties-style caps to floral headdresses, all designed in collaboration with the Viennese milliner Mühlbauer, which Nigo has been working with for over 15 years.
While Nigo didn't get to enjoy the show from the front row, as he did in his first show for the brand, the first few rows hosted celebrity guests such as Justin Timberlake, Jessica Biel, Ansel Elgort and Jaden Smith. After the applause, the party continued with a midday cocktail reception, held to coincide with the Japanese happy hour, which offered guests ice cream, cotton candy, shrimp hot dogs and octopus canapés.
Gunther's sophisticated summer style
On the other side of the Seine, Gunther hit the stage with the brand's third show since its birth in 2019. With a streetwear edge and positioned on the urban luxury segment, which many stars of the French rap scene are loyal to, the brand opted for a more elevated and refined collection. The lineup featured relaxed and sophisticated looks, suitable for the poolside or a meal with friends at a posh country club, tinged with soothing pastel colors inspired by the paintings of British artist David Hockney.
"We wanted to present a true summer collection, representing the effortlessly chic aesthetic," said designer and driving force behind the brand, Naomi Gunther, about her first summer show.
Barefoot male models strolled through the gardens of the high school in the seventh arrondissement of Paris, wearing matching flowy shorts and shirts, classic polo shirts in different shades and prints, a mint-colored suit jacket worn shirtless, organza shirts, a pink velvet shirt-and-pant set, white T-shirts bearing messages, knitted cardigans, sweaters tied at the shoulders, silk pajamas and matching hats.
The brand also made its first foray into the swimwear segment in collaboration with Apnée, a French swimwear brand produced in Portugal, and introduced new accessories such as metallic ties.
"The most common thing in fashion is for women to be the ones tapping into the men's closet. I wanted to show that it is possible to do the opposite, mixing the codes and giving a new form to the notion of femininity,” explained the designer, who presented her designs at the Tranoï show during fashion week.
Gunther closed the show with a unique reinterpretation of the bride that usually closes haute couture shows. Bouquet in hand, the last model wore a white suit made of long thread terry cloth, a beautiful fabric that Naomi recently discovered in Spain.
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