When Kenzo Takada opened his first boutique in Paris in 1970 – after moving from Japan to the French capital – he chose Galerie Vivienne, one of the city’s most iconic 19th-century covered arcades, as its location. The boutique ushered in a liberated, Eastern-inflected exuberance to the conservative echelons of French fashion – then more associated with gilded Place Vendôme salons – that was brimming with effusive floral prints, unrestrictive kimono shapes and a colour wheel of materials. A reflection of his love of nature, Takada named his first store Jungle Jap and painted its walls with scenes inspired by Henri Rousseau’s The Dream (1910). ‘The opening of the store brought a certain freedom and off-the-wall aesthetic,’ he explained in the 2019 monograph Kenzo Takada, published by ACC Books. 

In 1970, Takada also staged his first fashion show inside his Galerie Vivienne boutique. Today, the brand’s new creative director Nigo – streetwear supremo, musician, founder of Tokyo-based A Bathing Ape and co-founder of Billionaire Boys Club, the first Japanese designer since Takada to take the brand’s creative helm, and a fellow graduate of Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College – nodded to this history, staging his debut, A/W 2022 show for Kenzo inside Galerie Vivienne’s historic glass-and-steel enclosed enclaves. 

Kenzo Nigo A/W 2022 runway show

Here, focus was placed on the clothing, as guests – including Kanye West, fellow Billionaire Boys Club co-founder Pharrell Williams and Tyler, the Creator (who are both also featured on Nigo’s upcoming album I Know Nigo) – sat on simple foldable wooden chairs that lined the Galerie Vivienne arcade. For A/W 2022, Nigo’s silhouettes, which were grounded in a ‘real-to-wear’ authentic wardrobe, harked back to the designer’s 1980s teenage years in Japan, which revelled in the revival of 1950s Americana, amplified by the country’s post-Second World War links with American culture. This translated into relaxed, insouciant looks that hybridised sportswear, workwear and suiting, riffed on traditional Japanese uniform and UK 1980s subcultural styles, and celebrated the motifs synonymous with the house, such as the tiger, and floral patterns, like blue and red pansies and colourful bouquets. 

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Think pinstripe suits layered with flat kimono-shape wool jackets inspired by the uniforms of Japanese potters, colourful American college knitted vests paired with high-waisted trousers and chunky lion’s head belts, pansy-print bowling shirts styled with full skirts, padded motocross gloves and chunky Chelsea boots, and dark or stonewash Japanese denim all-in-ones that resembled utilitarian overalls layered with shirts. Varsity jackets nodded to US youth dressing codes, which have long inspired Japanese style (and are always found in the city’s vintage shops), Prince of Wales check suits, Harris Tweed overcoats, parkas and striped scarves nodded to British Mod-style, while apron-like garments referenced the foldable silhouettes worn during traditional tea ceremonies. The concept of ‘impractical workwear’ translated into desert boots and workwear embellished with floral prints. Hats were sported with almost every look, including berets, cycling casquettes and field caps. 

Where Kenzo Takada forged his first pathway into French fashion, so Nigo – whose A/W 2022 Kenzo show was his catwalk first – traced out the future of the label. It’s bright, bold, decade-spanning, and rooted in reality.  §

Kenzo Nigo A/W 2022 show venue Galerie Vivienne

Kenzo Nigo A/W 2022 runway show

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