It’s always been hard to pin down Kenzo. The French-Japanese roots have always either pulled it one way or the other, but Kenzo has always had strong and loyal support and with the launch of the new Australian flagship store in Melbourne it’s a whole lot clearer.
The Kenzo brand is something of a stalwart at 40 years old and continues to be a fashion luminary alongside other Japanese designers who made their way to Paris in the seventies and eighties – think Comme des Garcons, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto.
So expect, like these contemporaries the collections to be heavy on the quirk, yet Kenzo also manages to be high on the practicality and I think that’s its pull. Managing to be both is the kicker for the loyal customers who work in a sea of grey suits, this subtle (and not so subtle) difference adding the, how do the French say ‘je na sais quoi’?
The new store on Little Collins Street (just up from their old one) has these qualities in spades. Beautiful dark, almost charcoal floorboards with decorative tile inlay and bamboo, bright green bamboo everywhere that lend the entire space the tranquillity and air of calm the trans-continental brand has been spruiking for years.
This is also the essence of the clothing. Strong, traditional fabrics like worsted wools and flannels, layered or paired with intensive graphic prints and weaves in bright colours that always come together with wit and whimsy.
It is sophisticated yet fun and for grown-ups that is what fashion should be all about.