Kenzo’s new designer makes grand debut at Paris Fashion Week

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Kenzo’s new designer makes grand debut at Paris Fashion Week

All eyes at Paris Fashion Week on Wednesday were on the debut of Kenzo’s new designer, who put guests attending the freezing, winter morning show inside a sweltering greenhouse. In his extreme choice of setting, Felipe Oliveira Baptista thus ensured that his collection, one that took the house in a welcome pared-down direction, was literally, and metaphorically, the hottest ticket of the day. Here are some highlights from the ready-to-wear 2020 shows.

There has been much anticipation after Solange Knowles sang the swan song of outgoing Humberto Leon and Carol Lim last year, the design duo whose overly-busy designs had begun to suffer criticism.

Though it was not a triumph, the Portuguese-born Oliveira Baptista - who had previously revived Lacoste - put out a solid and saleable collection of men’s and women’s designs that successfully pushed the house toward a focused and minimalist mood.

There were flashes of creative flourish, such as a giant double-breasted tailored coat in vibrant medium blue that hung in a column surreally to the model’s ankles. It touched the billowing hem of oversized pants. Elsewhere, headwear cleverly morphed a 1950’s-style cloche hat with an Asian warrior headpiece - and provoked the clicking of guests’ cameras.

But most of all, this was a commercially-minded collection, and demonstrated perhaps why LVMH selected Oliveira Baptista in the first place to head one of their premier fashion maisons. When Oliveira Baptista became creative director at Lacoste in 2010, he transformed the house over the eight-year stint. LVMH may well have been impressed by the designer’s proved skill at transforming a dwindling house into a commercial runway success story.

Lanvin delved into fashion history for an encyclopedic collection. The world’s oldest continually-running couture house will always have roots in the 1920s heyday of its pioneering founder Jeanne Lanvin. And on Wednesday, creative director Bruno Sialelli nicely captured the exuberance of that decade, with its dropped-hem flapper styles and decorative froth.

Bijoux de fantaisie - artisanal costume jewelry - and buttons in the shape of the Lanvin’s signature 1927 fragrance bottle were meticulous in their detail and reinforced the Swinging Twenties vibe.

Yet Siallelli only used that as a starting point as he weaved in and out of styles that spanned the 20th century and beyond in a beautiful and well-executed display.

Loose silk gowns and coats were defined by prints inspired by the house’s 1949 collaboration on a book featuring watercolors and expressive calligrams while the repeated use of checks touched upon one of the big trends of 2020.

“In all, a manifesto of Lanvin. Past, present, always,” said the house in its collection notes. For once, the text was exactly right.

Dior has announced it’s partnering up with the Louvre to restore central Paris’ storied Tuileries gardens.

The Parisian house, that hosted its show there Tuesday, said in a statement that it has provided cash for the five-year project to landscape and revamp the area that attracts some 14 million visitors annually.

Starting in April 2020 with the reopening of the northeast grove, where over a hundred trees of different species grow, the project is aimed at preserving biodiversity in the French capital.

Dior’s designer Maria Grazia Chiuri has made environmental protection and the fight against global warming a key theme in recent collections. Dior said “each of us can be an agent of change for the ecosystems of tomorrow, whether natural or cultural.”

Created in 1564 - and later redesigned by Andre Le Notre for Louis XIV - the Tuileries is an iconic example of the “French” garden, that merges nature and culture.

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