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Top fashion designer Antonio Marras celebrates 40 years of Kenzo

It was in October 2010 at the Cirque d’Hiver in Paris. Right at the end of the fashion show presenting the brand’s spring/summer 2011 collection, the house of Kenzo, which was also celebrating its 40th anniversary, dazzled its audience with mind-blowing pieces bursting with colour and tailored in lavish fabrics which evoked faraway places. Luxos brings you what was a celebration of fashion.
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The Kenzo shows have always more than fulfilled our every fantasy since the brand’s creation by Mr Kenzo Takada in 1970. The Japanese designer, who left his home country to come and live in France, has always placed a strong emphasis on joy, celebration, travel, dreams and exoticism in his collections. And even if the brand will never again be like it once was in its heyday, following its acquisition in 1993 by the LVMH group and the departure of its founder in 1999, the arrival of Antonio Marras, who has acted as the brand’s creative director since 2003, has given the fashion house a new lease in life. The Sardinian designer’s new vision for the brand is evident in every collection and fashion show as he constantly rewrites fashion history.

To celebrate Kenzo’s 40th anniversary Antonio Marras wanted not only to impress his audience, but also to pay tribute to the label’s origins, with particular emphasis on Japan and the power of the imagination. He found what he was looking for in the fashion house’s archives: a multitude of fabrics and designs which he decided to piece together on 40 or so models. Like Russian dolls, the girls sported enormous hats and strutted down the catwalk in dresses made out of vast amounts of fabrics originating from all around the world. He also, above all, wanted to make everyday pieces burst with colour. He adorned them with flowers, embroidery and prints – all tailored with the utmost precision. It was this truly ethnic style, which is well present in fashion today, which the designer wanted to convey through his creations.

So it was up to Antonio Marras to bring together these ethnic influences and give them a new relevance, without abandoning the brand’s origins. The designer wanted to pay tribute to the style which is so synonymous with the label, right down to the varnished wooden Japanese shoes worn by the models. This collection, entitled ‘Accumulation of Archives’ is a fine example of the designer’s unrivalled craftsmanship and imagination, with belts made out of trousers, jackets worn as hats and three different dresses worn as slips. From ballet pumps crafted in lace and other white silks, the collection emulated the warm tones of Russian dolls through the models’ red lips, white faces and enormous hairdos which seemed to touch the sky. Nature was equally present through the use of floral fabrics in a shimmering green palette. Kimonos also featured, but were fashioned into folkloric dresses or sported as protective capes. Spots and stripes were equally on the menu and could be seen on shirts which turned into headscarves. Watching the models on the round stage at the Cirque d’ Hiver; you could have mistaken them for chequers on a draughtboard or ballerinas in a music box, so enchanting in “an oneiric dream” as Mr Marras said. The fashion show was a truly artistic performance, which transported the Kenzo brand into its own universe with its imaginative mixture of styles and originality.

The spring/summer 2011 collection which was presented prior to the show was no less interesting by any means. In this utterly weightless collection, Antonio Marras presented a selection of pieces which married Japanese and Sardinian styles, particularly fitting since the designer hails from the small island (even though Kenzo Takada never actually went there!) The Sardinian designer brought together the two styles through his collection of softly coloured dresses which he adorned with layers, drawstrings and Japanese prints.

The Kenzo brand continues to spread its sense of celebration and nomadism across the world. By making the label’s past, present, Antonio Marras has paid tribute to the brand’s 40th anniversary, whilst successfully propelling it into a new world whose horizons are just as exotic and poetic as before. A new book, which retraces the label’s history, conceived as a visual dialogue between Antonio Marras and Kenzo Takada, has just been published with a special edition version now available in the Kenzo flagship stores and a basic version available in a selection of bookstores.