Kenzo’s Fall Winter 2021 show by Felipe Oliveira Baptista opens on numerous high notes. This is almost surprising, given the circumstances; this collection is, after all, the first to be shown following the Kenzo Takada’s death from COVID-19 last October. However, rather than a reminder of grief or despair, Oliveira looked towards this collection as a celebration of Takada’s freedom, joy, and legacy.
“Nothing new could come out of just a polite and reverential look back at Kenzo’s amazing legacy,” Baptista wrote in this season’s show notes. He found inspiration in videos of Kenzo’s early shows in the ’70s and ’80s, as well as select pieces from both of their archives. What resulted is a collection based on movement and possibility.
The brand’s film opens on a small group of models in wide-legged pants, swimming in coats and scarves so large they could be mistaken for blankets. In a palette of vibrant green, pink, red, and blue, they twirl and twist and spin against an electric beat. It’s like you’re watching a party from afar; one where everyone is simply having the best time without a care in the world! Their freestyle dance moves—a common theme throughout the 10-minute clip—are enough to make you smile, let alone the extremely comfortable clothes that swish and flow just as much as their wearers.
As the film advances, it becomes clearer how Baptista wants people to experience the collection. In a beginning scene, models wear ruched anoraks and matching orange, blue, and green pants and chunky boots—one even wears an anorak-dress hybrid. In others, male and females alike don shift dresses, jackets, sweaters, and oversized T-shirts in chain link, plaid, striped, and floral prints. The silhouettes are dramatic, the textures are rich, and the patterns instantly draw the eye. The references to Kenzo signatures like allover prints, bold color pairings, and a loose, easy-going attitude are also on full display (plus brief shots referencing Kenzo himself, through a neon outline of the designer’s face on several pieces). It’s obvious these clothes are meant to be worn and enjoyed to the fullest possible extent.
It’s interesting to note how Baptista’s collection, compared with others from the Fall Winter 2021 season, doesn’t pride itself on utilizing formal garments or “going out” clothes. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t believe that things won’t return to “normal” soon (as far as we know, at least). Rather, it appears that he reinterpreted what that means in his own way, while nodding to to Kenzo’s house codes. Even if these pieces aren’t the traditional clothes one might wear to feel put together or establish normalcy, it’s not an issue. These don’t have to be the most skintight, party-ready pieces out there; they still bring joy regardless.
Baptista was right, of course. The resulting show, if done on a smaller or more quiet scale, wouldn’t have had the same effect. The booming music, the fluid dance moves, the broadest showcase of clothing movement—when merged together, they’re utterly thrilling to watch. In fact, it might even inspire you to twirl around at home in your favorite, most brightly-colored or printed oversized hoodie and a matching floor-length skirt.
The models from various scenes joining each other on a lit-up dance floor were the visual that truly epitomized this collection. It’s about color, texture and movement, but also about unity, joy, and (as Baptista eloquently put it) a “visceral yearning for life,” all in a touching tribute to the late Kenzo Takada. Consider this show a must-watch to celebrate and enjoy the legacy of Takada’s design career—and receive an instant serotonin boost.
See the full collection below: