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.”
“I have never started a collection with so many questions in front of me and so many mixed feelings about the present and the future. Surely no one can expect linear answers to the current situation. The world is lost and everyone must try to find some sort of sense (and possible order) in it. How can one define and pretend to give answers to a reality that no one understands or fully comprehends?
How can one draw conclusions from a situation that is far from ending and in which the consequences are impossible to grasp? The world is ill, the world is bleeding, but it is still alive. And, as long as there is life there is hope.
An optimistic answer must come with a certain degree of pragmatism.
So, where do we go from here? How do we move on? How can we help people? make them dream? give them hope and at the same time facilitate their lives.
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.”
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.
“Going places… a mirage of dreams, hope, excitement and discovery. We will not give that up. Clothes that transform themselves to adapt to all situations. The fully covered and protected becomes fragile and naked, daring danger and rules.
#KENZO has always been about fun, celebration and optimism. These cravings were pure fuel in the creative process. We wanted to put that raw, daring and curious energy into the clothes and into everything related to the collection. Almost like an optimistic version of punk. It is time to look at things differently and from new perspectives. Time to pull everything apart and put it back together again in a surprising, free and innovative yet meaningful way.
Again, the dichotomies portray a celebration of life that is both: joyful/melancholic, high/low, covered/naked, delicate/bold, fearful/optimistic, protection/exposure, accidental/controlled, surprises/pragmatism and stillness/movement.
Be caring, Be brave.
Bee a Tiger.”Felipe Oliveira Baptista