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This marks Bape's founder Nigo's first collection for Kenzo, a beautiful homage to the legacy of the Paris-based Japanese fashion house, whilst also bringing some streetwear elements. A line that merges both men and womenswear that has been called real-to-wear, as the clothes are extremely wearable at the same time it integrates a fashion-forward approach.

In 1970, the year Nigo was born, Kenzo Takada presented his first fashion show in Galerie Vivienne at his new store Jungle Jap, – which later changed its name as it had a pejorative meaning – and in 2022, Nigo has made his own debut for the brand at the same arcade. The soundtrack was a bit of a sneak peek to his upcoming album I Know, giving a nod to his musical background and his influence on the industry, seen also in the guest list, which featured people like Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Tyler, the Creator and Dominic Fike.

And it's so obvious than none other than Nigo himself could have taken over the reins of Kenzo, as he completely understands the vision of Western fashion from the perspective of a Japanese man. He completely represents the obsession with everything Americana that Japanese society had post-World War II, even before the birth of streetwear in the ‘50s and again in the ‘80s.

This is seen in the so-called reversible Souvenir bomber jackets, inspired by the historically commissioned ones in kimono fabrics from the American forces that occupied Japan: the wool side features a map of France that has been embroidered, whilst the silk side shows an embellished map of Japan. Nylon aviation jackets follow the United States military theme, whilst the varsity and graduation jackets (covered in prints of Kenzo Takada's original sketches) are a nod to the Japanese appreciation of the Ivy League aesthetic and US youth dressing traditions.

And speaking of traditions, Nigo has followed meticulously the construction of Japanese traditional garments like the samue, which are bib-like tops that evoke the kimono structure, layered with a hanten, becoming a wrapped coat. He has also been adorning clothes in remixes of the hand-painted decorations from his Kutani-Yaki craft teacher, called Fujimura Shuji.

He also was very adamant that the denim had to come from Japan, as the high-quality fabric from the country represents both ruggedness and refinement for him. From voluminous denim trousers, jackets and salopettes with yellow topstitching that follow the workwear silhouette. He also adds a touch of whimsy from the archival use of the Poppy Print, reflecting on Nigo's idea of “impractical workwear” (by creating self-contradictory garments founded in the contemporary approach to dress codes), as well as knitwear jumpers, vests, cardigans, dresses and even hats, in addition to reinterpreting the Maison's tiger in a new Aka-e Tiger watercolour motif.

Mercedes Rosés

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