Kenneth Ize

EXCLUSIVE: Kenneth Ize Tuned Into Karl Lagerfeld’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul

EXCLUSIVE: Kenneth Ize Tuned Into Karl Lagerfeld’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul

Kenneth Ize never met Karl Lagerfeld in person, but there were only a few degrees of separation: Lagerfeld was once a guest professor at Ize’s university in Vienna and Ize felt his ideas and vision trickling into the curriculum via favorite teachers like Hermann Fankhauser.
“[Fankhauser] emphasized the love he has for Karl, his passion for quality things and love of boldness, his confidence. I guess those are the things I picked up,” Ize said in an interview.
A finalist for the LVMH Prize for Young Designers in 2019, Ize was hoping to meet the design legend, one of its marquee judges and a rock star among fashion designers, but Lagerfeld passed away a few months before the candidates were to assemble in Paris. “I really have to say that was definitely the one single person that I was really, really looking forward to meeting during that time,” he said.

But at that LVMH Prize showroom, Ize did encounter French stylist and fashion entrepreneur Carine Roitfeld, who was named style adviser at the Karl Lagerfeld brand in April of that year, and it was she who ultimately approached Ize for a collaboration.

Carine Roitfeld and Kenneth Ize in Paris. 
Courtesy

Ize was still pinching himself in mid-May when he found himself at Karl Lagerfeld headquarters on the Rue Saint-Guillaume in Paris, where he teamed with Roitfeld on the campaign shoot for the Karl Lagerfeld X Kenneth Ize capsule collection, hitting Karl.com, Farfetch.com and Brownsfashion.com on July 7. It will also be available at brick-and-mortar Karl stores on Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris and Regent Street in London.

Roitfeld confessed that she didn’t attend Ize’s first runway show in Paris, which attracted major attention after the designer snagged Naomi Campbell to close the display in a colorful trenchcoat made of a special fabric woven in his native Nigeria. She rushed online to see it.
“I’m not a print person, and I’m not so much into color, but I really liked his show,” she said in an interview, seated next to Ize. “It was so different from what I usually like. It was like a new wind of fresh fashion coming and I thought it will be a perfect match with the Karl Lagerfeld house.”

The collection is unisex. 

To be sure, Lagerfeld, who died in February 2019, was curious, alert and highly attuned to the latest in everything, and Roitfeld is sure that he and Ize, who melds his Nigerian heritage with his Austrian upbringing and education, would have loads to talk about.
Ize said Fankhauser taught students at the University of Applied Arts that Lagerfeld’s creative interests and output went beyond fashion to encompass photography, interiors, publishing and industrial design. “He made us understand that Karl can do everything, and that as a creative person, it’s not just about designing clothes,” he recalled. “And that gave me the sense that I can do more.”
Fankhauser noted that Lagerfeld was one of the Vienna university’s first guest professors at the beginning of the 1980s, and helped modernize teaching methods at the school, which subsequently welcomed designers including Helmut Lang, Hussein Chalayan and Raf Simons. Lang was among Fankhauser’s professors and “he was also talking about Karl Lagerfeld.”
In Fankhauser’s view, Lagerfeld was one of the first to understand that fashion was connected to all aspects of popular culture and societal movements, and Ize also “has a bigger picture than just clothes.”

Indeed, Ize has made his gender-neutral label a vehicle for political and social activism, and for exalting African culture and its savoir-faire, employing weavers in Lagos to create his signature geometrically-patterned fabric, inspired by the aso oke cloth woven by the Yoruba people.
His capsule collection for Lagerfeld references a wide swath of African fashions, including graphic black-and-white prints from Madagascar, and glass beads from Nigeria for jewelry. Meanwhile, small cross-body bags with circular portals resemble iPhones – a wink to the fact that smartphones have become a vital tool to document police violence.
Yet his psychedelic-print pants, taut sweaters and sleeveless T-shirts with shoulder pads telegraph the rock ‘n’ roll spirit Lagerfeld made a benchmark of his signature brand, with Roitfeld name-checking Mick Jagger among those she could envision wearing the Ize items.

Prints take inspiration from Madagascar and other African countries. 
Courtesy

“It’s city clothes and that’s what I like,” she said. “At Le Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain, you can wear this collection.”
Ize said he plunged into the project as soon as he was approached.
“I’m so honored,” he enthused, placing a hand on his chest. “Carine has given me such a space to be able to express my own creativity, to have a voice. Just giving someone a voice is so powerful.”
Ize said the experience gave him more confidence. “This job has brought me out to be more pronounced and profound, to be stronger, more confident. I know what I want to design, I know how I want to explain things….So it’s like she groomed me for the future, basically.”
It was an eye-opener and an education to work with a large company like Karl Lagerfeld, which has long production lead times and considerable design and technical muscle. Ize said he relished the opportunity to work with design director Hun Kim, who shared his expertise freely during fittings in Amsterdam.
Looks range from a slinky knit shirt to a pantsuit, both with vaguely Seventies airs, to a linen smock inspired by the custom Hilditch & Key shirts Lagerfeld wore for sleeping and sketching. Ize applied a body tattoo print from the Ebo tribe of Nigeria to knit sweaters and pants.
The brand is to unveil the collection in a showroom presentation on July 6 during couture week in Paris. Retail prices range from 99 euros to 695 euros.

See also:
EXCLUSIVE: Karl Lagerfeld Brand Taps Kenneth Ize for Capsule

Karl Lagerfeld Dies in Paris

Kenneth Ize Steps Up With Paris Fashion Week Debut

International Woolmark Prize Teams With Solange Knowles’ Saint Heron

International Woolmark Prize Teams With Solange Knowles’ Saint Heron

LONDON — The International Woolmark Prize is teaming with American singer-songwriter Solange Knowles’ creative firm Saint Heron to highlight the work of this year’s six finalists in a digital format, which includes all visuals, website design and a fashion film being released Thursday.
Concepted by Knowles, the film “Passage” features a diverse cast of artists showcasing looks from Bethany Williams, Casablanca, Kenneth Ize, Lecavalier, Matty Bovan and Thebe Magugu, who were selected from more than 380 applicants from 55 countries.
The winners will be revealed June 10. The recipients of the grand prize and Karl Lagerfeld Award for Innovation will receive 200,000 and 100,000 Australian dollars, respectively.

A new prize, the Woolmark Supply Chain Award, will also be given to recognize the outstanding contribution by a trade partner and presented to a member of the supply chain.
This year’s finalists have received 60,000 Australian dollars funding to create a six-look merino wool collection with a “less is more” approach to celebrate slow and responsibly produced fashion and craftsmanship.
They have also been participating in a yearlong mentoring program from IWP’s innovation academy, which offers finalists access to 43 supply-chain partners and mentors, product development support, textile research and development, business and sustainability strategies.

Some of them help a designer enrich their brand’s digital journey, such as the virtual ready-to-wear design system Hologarment, which produces an interactive AR showroom experience, and Blue Bite, which empowers brands to create digital experiences out of their physical products.
Other partners in the program focus on closing the loop in the fashion industry, such as TIPA, which provides fully compostable polybags, zipper bags, mailers, garment bags, and Queen of Raw, a marketplace to buy and sell unused textiles, keeping them out of landfills and turning pollution into profit.
Each finalist has a dedicated regional manager for the entire year, and some of this year’s finalists already delivered examples of how their businesses have evolved and how the prize has changed their practice.

Finalists of The International Woolmark Prize 2021 
Courtesy

Magugu, for example, has received extensive feedback from retail buyers about the elevation of his product, which has also increased sales. IWP said it has connected the LVMH Prize winner with specialist makers who previously turned him down, including a Japanese mill, an African tweed manufacturer, and textile developers in Amsterdam.
For his IWP collection, the South African designer worked with textile mills Hinterveld and Svenmill on the development of an anti-viral yarn, which was proven to be effective against viruses and bacteria for up to 30 washes. Magugu will be the guest designer at the 100th edition of the international men’s trade show Pitti Uomo and present his spring 2022 collection in Florence. 
Bovan and Casablanca’s Charaf Tajer have also seen their retail sales increase since developing their collection under IWP guidance.
Bovan’s IWP collection is made from roll-end cloth from British mill A.W Hainsworth. He developed knitted panels which are then draped into garments, meaning there is no cutting involved and no waste textiles. Tajer incorporated padded oil capsules into his IWP design, which he believes can enhance the wearer’s well-being when the person comes into contact with the fabric.

Williams, who received the Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design in 2019, executed her IWP collection in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison as a social project, with an aim to create a supportive environment in which to increase well-being and reduce re-offending rates among the participants by equipping them with professional skills and qualifications. She also developed upcycled knitwear and embroidery with Manusa in Italy for the Woolmark Prize.
Ize’s collection is inspired by Nigerian youths who fought against police brutality with the EndSARS movement. On top of working with local weaving communities to modernize Aso-Oke handwoven techniques, he introduced Nigerian-spun rayon to create an innovative wool crepe fabric. This was the first time Ize has introduced wool yarns to his local artisans.
Marie-Ève Lecavalier from Canada partnered with textile innovation studio Byborre to develop a denim-look knitted fabric to avoid heavy pollutants and excessive water usage with traditional denim for her IWP collection.
Thom Browne, who joined the judging panel this year, alongside Naomi Campbell, Holi Rogers, Shaway Yeh and Sinéad Burke, said “there is nothing more inspiring than young artists who are true to themselves.”
“By encouraging innovation through education and funding, the prize gives finalists the space to really consider what makes their ideas different and exciting. I wish all of the designers the best of luck. And I encourage them to remain confident in their individual ideas, always,” he added.
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