American duo re-imagines a younger, more urban house of Kenzo

American duo re-imagines a younger, more urban house of Kenzo - image

PARIS – A no-nonsense American brashness blew through the house of Kenzo on Sunday, sweeping out the lingering traces of the label’s departed Sardinian designer’s languid Italian romanticism.

Just over two months after they were appointed to replace Antonio Marras as creative directors, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim – the New York-based duo behind the wildly successful Opening Ceremony concept stores – presented their debut ready-to-wear collection.

Gone were Marras’ poetic, globe-trotting looks, replaced by more overtly hip, youthful designs that buzzed with a very New York energy. Wrap dresses and short little skirts were paired with oversized parkas, and printed silk shorts were worn with sweaters in clashing patterns.

Romantic beauty ceded to practicality, as Marras’ ravishing but sometimes hard-to-wear designs were swapped for more sportswear looks, many of them reversible, according the collection notes.

Kenzo has always been about prints and colour, going back to the tenure of the brand’s founder, Japanese-born designer Kenzo Takada, but Leon and Lim swapped the oversized flowers of the Marras years for graphic prints in primary colours. The fishnet prints were cool, but in head-to-toe colorblock patchwork, it was enough to make you dizzy.

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The youth market is generally regarded as the holy grail for many top labels, and with Sunday’s spring-summer 2012 collection Leon and Lim marked their start of their quest to capture it.

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