Felipe Oliveira Baptista erects modular runway for A/W 2020 Kenzo debut

Felipe Oliveira Baptista erects modular runway for A/W 2020 Kenzo debut

‘It was designed as a modular nomadic object,’ says creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista of his debut A/W 2020 runway set design for Kenzo

‘There are lots of flowers I’ve never seen in Tokyo, like anemones, mimosas and others whose names I don’t know. When I walk past a flower shop I feel very cheerful,’ Japanese designer Kenzo Takada wrote in a letter to his mother in 1965, a year after arriving in Paris via a month-long ocean voyage. The natural world has long been a motif of the house. When Takada opened his revolutionary boutique Jungle Jap in 1970, its walls were emblazoned with tropical murals inspired by Henri Rousseau’s The Dream (1910), and from its outset, the brand’s clothing has been festooned with floral forms. 

For his debut A/W 2020 show as creative director of Kenzo, Felipe Oliveira Baptista (who served as creative director of Lacoste from 2010-2018), drew on Kenzo’s naturalistic heritage. On the grassy lawns that line the Institut National de Jeunes Sourds in Paris, Baptista erected a transparent tubular structure, formed from bisecting paths, lined with benches. ‘It was designed as a modular nomadic object,’ says the Azores-born Baptista. 

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Baptista was inspired by the cross-cultural heritage of the brand, which combined Japanese silhouettes like flat kimono shapes and bold hues with Parisian cuts, and his own border-spanning sartorial DNA. Just as Takada took emotive inspiration from south east Asia, India, West Africa and Europe (areas he passed through on his journey to Paris), Baptista also looked to his own personal narratives, taking inspiration from summers spent as a child in the Azores and an image of his newlywed parents in Mozambique about to embark on a skydive.

For Baptista’s fellow nomads, the designer proposed an elegant yet utterly practical wardrobe: down jackets that transform into sleeping bags, dresses in cocooning shapes, utility belts, protective headgear and parkas that expand like wings. Naturalistic tones and patterns included a camouflage print, infact formed from a trompe-leoil of roses and a series of painting dresses were emblazoned with expressionist tiger heads, taken from works by Portuguese artist Julio Pomar. These animalistic artworks wouldn’t have looked out of place on the walls of the original Jungle Jap boutique in Galerie Vivienne.

Sustainable show set design has been an emphatic element of the A/W 2020 shows. In Milan, Gucci’s Alessandro Michele forgoed a physical invitation for a personal Whatsapp voice memo sent to each guest, while at Bottega Veneta, Daniel Lee swapped a hard copy invitation for an email animation. Additionally, instead of building an excessive show set, Lee simply projected scenes of a Palladium villa onto reusable fabric screens.

‘The set will be re-used in other forms at events in the coming seasons, such as pop-up stores or presentation,’ Baptista says of Kenzo’s tubular show set. Produced in collaboration with Bureau Betak, the events agency announced yesterday its shift into eco-conscious production. It is the first significant company worldwide to receive ISO 20121 certification for sustainable event management. After all, Kenzo’s future nomads need a natural world to wander through. §

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