At Kenzo, a Longtime Art Influence Is Brought to Light

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If the colorful prints and knits by Kenzo have ever reminded you of the art works of Henri Rousseau – he of the dense, lush jungle paintings and vivid nature scenery – that is because the brand and the artist share a connection. Kenzo Takada, who launched his eponymous label in 1970, fell in love with the works of Rousseau upon a visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris. Fully obsessed with the painter’s vision, Takada placed a replica of Roussea’s famous landscape “The Dream” in his first store in Paris, and the house’s tiger emblem was also borrowed from Rousseau’s “Tiger in a Tropical Storm”.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

For Kenzo’s ‘La Collection Memento N°3’ – the third in a series of capsule creations – Creative Directors, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, paid tribute to the works of Rousseau for a very special reason. Beyond designing clothes, Takada is an accomplished painter. After stepping down from his company in 1999, he has been working as an artist, and he recently recreated some of Rousseau’s most renowned works. In his homage, which was presented ahead of the show, Takada inserted himself into Rousseau’s familiar jungle world, and also changed the faces of the painting’s subjects.

The collection was fun, energetic, and eccentric, representing the core of Kenzo’s DNA.

On the runway, Rousseau’s works were rendered in sartorial form, crafted from enormous tapestries that feature hothouse scenery. These embroidered pieces were married to rugby-striped knits, chunky sweaters, and thick skirts with asymmetrical ruffle details. Some were turned into floor-sweeping blanket-ponchos, while others were upholstered onto thick coats and trimmed with Mongolian fur. Because of its clear reference points and juxtaposition of bold stripes, the collection was fun, energetic, and eccentric, representing the core of Kenzo’s DNA.

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