On the final day of Paris Fashion Week Men’s, Nigo unveiled his first combined womenswear and menswear collection for Kenzo in the Galerie Vivienne — the same venue as the late house founder Kenzo Takada’s debut show in 1970. Both Nigo, née Tomoaki Nagao, and Takada were born and raised in Japan, and both attended Tokyo’s prestigious Bunka Fashion College.
The designer, who founded the hugely successful streetwear brand A Bathing Ape in 1993 (as well as the line Human Made in 2010) sat front row amongst his longtime friends Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, and Tyler, The Creator. And as the models walked out, yet further completeness became apparent: “1970” was embroidered across varsity jackets and berets, winking to Takada’s premiere runway, but also Nigo’s birth year.
When it was announced that Nigo would be taking the creative helm, Kenzo released a statement in which the designer noted this would be the “greatest challenge” of his career. But he rose to that challenge on Sunday with a highly graphic yet deeply considered lineup of stylish tailoring, workwear separates and Japanese denim. Highlights included robe blazers, plaid and slightly preppy skirts, and a veritable greenhouse of botanical motifs, both new and archival, including an arresting freeform watercolour garden.
In the show’s press release, Nigo adjusted the standard phrase “ready-to-wear,” calling it “real-to-wear.” That was followed by a declarative: It’s “an authentic wardrobe founded in a forward-thinking approach to fashion.”
The word authenticity is key — one could recognise homages to the colour play and pairings that made Takada so well-known, while Nigo also paid tribute to Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s tenure at the house with updated tiger motifs (Lim and Leon leaned into a tiger visage for their visual coding at Kenzo to great fanfare).
And the collection definitely registered as forward-thinking with emphasis on genderless fashion, and a sort of calmness that felt modern, away from hyper-branding into something a little more wardrobe-forward. It was a strong, circular start.