Bridges have suddenly become fashion’s preferred runway, and Nigo chose a symbolic one: The pedestrian-only Passerelle Debilly, one of the spans over the Seine River that connects the Palais de Tokyo and the Eiffel Tower.
Kenzo Paris, get it? Nigo has made the interplay between late Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada and the French capital a central theme of his Kenzo. “A bridge between cultures,” is how he put it during a preview.
For spring, the designer conscripted Japanese graphic artist Verdy to create a striking serif font for a new Kenzo Paris logo, which he stamped on judo jackets and canvas tote bags, and repeated as a busy print for T-shirts, windbreakers and parkas.
Despite all that branding, Nigo’s spring women’s and men’s collections exuded more of a grown-up, Parisian sophistication this season as the designer eased up on preppy and collegiate themes, putting slingback kitten heels on all his female models, and adding a little heel protectors so shoes wouldn’t get stuck in the bridge’s wooden slats.
One did, but no matter. Like his best buddy Pharrell Williams, who paraded his debut Louis Vuitton collection on the Pont Neuf three nights early and brought his mom to the Kenzo show, Nigo was blessed with idyllic weather, an up-for-it crowd, and hundreds of frenzied teens screaming for K-pop star Vernon, the Seventeen band member who just signed on as global brand ambassador.
The Japanese designer has a knack with denim, and he opened his display with handsome coats and jackets for women and little cheerleader skirts, a rose motif embedded in the dark fabric. Later came terrific cargo jeans for guys and a crisp hoodie in a stylized fish-scale print.
Kenzo womenswear has had some growing pains — Nigo’s background is in men’s fashion — and this collection marked a big improvement, more resolutely feminine with body-skimming silhouettes, gauzier fabrics and gentler colors.
Speaking of bridging cultures, Nigo drew inspiration from “city pop,” a genre of music spawned in late ’70s Japan and now enjoying a global renaissance. It added a quirky charm to the whole experience.