The Bold and the Beautiful

Mickey Boardman

A couple of months ago at Paris Fashion Week, while most fashion wags were debating which bold-faced designer would land the highly-coveted gig at the House of Dior, two American (semi) newcomers to the fashion scene were busy making a splash at their debut as creative directors of Kenzo. Causing the stir were Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, the masterminds behind hipster retail sensation Opening Ceremony, that has outlets in New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo and is famous for its collaborations with the likes of Chloë Sevigny, Rodarte and Levi's.

But with OC's 10th anniversary fast approaching in 2012, the duo decided to step it up and take on a whole fashion house. "We thought it would be amazing to really get in and lend some of the things we do at Opening Ceremony to a brand: retail, design, our showroom." They ended up meeting with LVMH, where they informed the French luxury conglomerate that they'd love to work with one of the company's holdings.

The name Kenzo came up and Lim and Leon liked it. Both remembered buying vintage Kenzo pieces in their college thrift-shopping days in Berkeley. "We didn't want to do a vintage re-do," Lim says. "We were very conscious thinking about what Kenzo Takada himself would do if he landed in Paris now in 2011 instead of 1969." The press and retailers flipped their wigs for the collection, which was inspired by artist Ellsworth Kelly. "All our collections start with a person," Lim explains. "Kelly spent time upstate like we do and went to Paris and was inspired by the artists there. That's a nice story for us."

The line was filled with Kelly's bright colors are well as bold patterns recalling seashells and souvenir art. What appear to be bird and flower prints upon closer inspection are actually shells arranged to look like birds and flowers. For Lim, Kenzo is all about the energy. "Ask anyone about Kenzo and they smile. He's always smiling in his pictures."

The presentation featured cameos by OC regulars like Jason Schwartzman (who played drums) and Chloë Sevigny on the runway. Solange Knowles and Spike Jonze were among the well-wishers in the audience. Lim explains, "Kenzo always had an idea of community and featured his friends in his shows. Working with friends is just how we think."


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