Felipe Oliveira Baptista, Art Director of Kenzo, paid tribute to the late Kenzo Takada through an artistic film directed by Oliver Hadlee Pearch which showcased the brand’s collection for the fall/winter 2021 season
For many fashion enthusiasts, the sudden announcement of Kenzo Takada’s passing at the end of 2020 feels like a fresh memory. At the time, the Internet was inundated with tributes, messages, photos and videos of Kenzo, his work and his life. For Kenzo’s Art Director Felipe Oliveira Baptista, it felt like losing someone close to him.
While he was back to work on the following Monday, Baptista still felt numb with shock. However, it was the time to start working on the next collection, and so a big question came up: Where to start? How to transform the grieving into something positive, joyful, free? He just knew that this can’t be just a tribute but a celebration of the late Kenzo Takada, his work and incredible vision.
Baptista expressed about the collection: “Nothing new could come out of just a polite and reverential look back at Kenzo’s amazing legacy. Space must be allowed for intuition, instinct, surprises, and accidents. Nothing new can be achieved without these. I have started by watching all of the (recently restored) videos of Kenzo’s shows from 1978 until 1985. Although I already knew all the clothes and collections from the archives, photos, drawings, magazines. To see all these great garments in movement opened a new perspective into Kenzo’s world. Suddenly his vocabulary gained a whole new palette of colours.”
In the movie, the models strolled and wondered in a state of vibrant jubilation, grace and cheekiness. Everything seemed so organic and effortless, sensual and emotional. In a way, it was very much the contrary of what so much of fashion has become: formulated, safe and predictable. There were selected few pieces from the archives of Kenzo and Baptista’s creation. Then started a long process of trying the clothes on, photographing and studying them in movement.
The possibilities of a new world, without borders, prejudices, and stereotypes were expressed in new narratives, reflected through collage, cut, paste, erase, draw, turn them inside out, then upside down, dissect them, pull them apart, and back together again. Kenzo stood for freedom, joy, diversity, love of nature and creating harmony out of contrasts, as Baptista’s wanted colour and prints to reflect all of this.
As the offering to Kenzo, of all things that have been cherished, landscapes, hortensias, birds, chains, roses, stripes, pansies, tulips and cocktail glasses … all mixed together in an imaginary colourful feast. Although confined in Paris, between home and work travelled runs through the minds, creativity as a form of antidote to our current situation. The creation is the new elixir. The magic and beauty of travel, a tribute to nomad peoples and minds.
The joy and thrill of arriving somewhere new, unexpected and untouched. A visceral yearning for life. A visceral lust for freedom.