Kenzo’s co-creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon talk us through their gender-bending SS15 line.
Carol Lim and Humberto Leon are high fashion provocateurs. Their attitude mirrors that of Kenzo Takada, who founded the fashion house they co-direct. Takada joined Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College after it changed from a girls’ school to a unisex one, and started his influential line with barely a penny to his name. His vision? To muddy what we know about gender, religious iconography and cultural ephemera. From tiger-logo-mania to garms that blur the boundaries of gender, it’s clear Leon and Lim know how to get people talking. Here, we grill them on all things Kenzo SS15.
Wonderland: Kenzo has a distinctive yet complex aesthetic. What is it that makes it so unique?
Humberto Leon: Kenzo as a brand has such a rich history, so when we’re creating any of the new collections we want to respect and preserve the traditions of the house and its core DNA, while injecting it with a spirit that is both fun and youthful. It’s really important to us that what we’re producing is of the moment, so we are constantly asking ourselves, “Does this feel Kenzo and does it feel modern?”
Carol Lim: The feeling of worldliness and travel has been intrinsic to every Kenzo collection in the house’s history. We look at how Kenzo Takada’s own sources of inspiration were constantly changing and how his ideas were never repeated, and that’s something we strive to continue.
HL: When designing a new collection, we always think about the spirit that Kenzo originally brought with him to Paris. This era is ours, so we bring to the table our own personal experiences whilst keeping in mind the history of the house.
W: That makes sense – your SS15 line is a cultural mash-up.
HL: Thinking about shapes and silhouettes was important to us this season, to create a feeling of cleanliness and purity and the right energy.
CL: Having both grown up in the suburbs of LA, we often mix streetwear references with other influences. It’s important to us that we create clothes that people can wear, but also reflect us as designers and the Kenzo house.
HL: We wanted to work with classic shapes and exaggerate them, while working with interesting [fabrics] and thinking about the garments as a whole. In terms of the overall design aesthetic we have always believed in incorporating sportswear elements into high fashion. It’s a way of dressing that we’ve always believed in.
W: What about your choice of set, why is a concept so important for you?
CL: With each collection, we want to create a new feeling of excitement. We like to think about every element of the brand, from the clothes to the campaign, and from the shows to the stores.
HL: We want to infuse that level of fun into everything we work on. Our shows allow us to collaborate with people outside the world of fashion, allowing us to expand our communities.
W: Kenzo seems to be one of the only brands that pays attention – and reacts – to global issues.
CL: With a brand like Kenzo, we have the opportunity to reach customers and followers of the brand on a global scale. With that kind of visibility, we feel a certain responsibility to use the platforms we’re given in a way that can be impactful and reaching.
W: You’re both great at cultivating new creativity, too. Who has caught your attention recently?
CL: In this age of social media and constant flow of new content, we’ve been drawn to all kinds of new ideas.
W: We often see men in women’s Kenzo collections and vice versa on social media. Is this something you have in mind when designing? It feels like gender has become somewhat irrelevant in fashion.
HL: There’s definitely a point where the gender of clothing no longer matters, it’s just about how you feel wearing individual items and whether it looks cool. When pieces are really special whether they’re intended for menswear or womenswear becomes irrelevant.
Photographer: Julia Kennedy.
Fashion Editor: Nicco Torelli.
Words: Brooke McCord.