Longtime Kenzo designers stage final show in Paris

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Longtime Kenzo designers stage final show in Paris
A model wears a creation for the Kenzo mens Spring-Summer 2020 fashion collection presented in Paris, Sunday, June 23 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — It was quite literally the final curtain for Kenzo’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon at Paris Fashion Week on Sunday, after the duo’s eight successful years at the creative helm of the house came to a close.

With a 100-meter (110-yard) curtain on set, a surprise performance by singer Solange and thousands of guests in attendance, the duo’s departure was a farewell to remember.

Here are some highlights from the final day of spring-summer 2020 men’s and co-ed collections from the Kenzo show and others by Lanvin and Paul Smith.

A MONUMENTAL KENZO SHOW

For their final show, Leon and Lim went back to the homeland of house founder Kenzo Takada: Japan and its legendary seas.

More specifically, they paid homage to the Ama, a dying community of aging Japanese females who free dive into their late 70s.

“For over 2000 years (they) have dived to the ocean floor to forage for seafood such as shrimp, urchins or even pearls… They have become known as the last mermaids,” Leon said.

An accessorized neoprene suit began the show, heralding the aquatic-theme with ankle bracelets in pearly coral clusters.

Men’s bags were fashioned in wide netting.

A loose-fitting blue suit had a wrinkled look and white markings that suggested it had been dried on the sand and bleached in the sun. It was a beautiful piece.

In the co-ed show, the female models sported floor-length hairpieces while wearing anything from swimsuit hybrids and Japanese Okobo sandals in sea-lily print, to a silver dress that had segmented pieces around the bust to resemble shells.

Typical of Leon and Lim, the mermaid look was capped contradictorily by blue jeans and sneakers.

Still, it felt as if many of the exhaustive 74 designs had been seen before.

KENZO DESIGNERS’ FINAL CURTAIN

A large seascape-covered curtain served as a powerful element in the show.

The monumental installation by photographer Yamazaki Hiroshi charted the sun’s course over the ocean using a long exposure lens.

The visual metaphor for the passing of time had guests spellbound and called attention to the end of an era for the duo of American designers who’ve made a deep mark on the Paris fashion industry.

Loud bass music reverberated around the warehouse venue before the curtain was sucked up into the roof in a split second, as if by magic. The audience gasped.

The surreal air defined the entire presentation, as dancers moved by bending forward and back on Japanese “geta” clogs.

Solange, wearing alien-like beaded jewelry, appeared out of the darkness while conducting a brass band. She then sang “a capella” on the catwalk to raucous whoops.

LANVIN IS NAUTICAL BUT NICE

Inside a lofty indoor swimming pool, Bruno Sialelli unveiled his highly-anticipated sophomore collection for Lanvin.

Given that the former Loewe staffer is the storied house’s fourth designer in four years, there are lots of hopes pinned on him to rescue the world’s oldest continually running couture maison from the creative wilderness.

Channeling styles that might be described as “sailor punk,” Sialelli did just that — rising to the challenge with a show that overflowed with clever ideas.

Rich color — which seems to be Sialelli’s touchstone thus far — was used with panache in a carefully stage-managed set that featured men’s and women’s designs. The pale blue swimming pool doors and multicolor wall mosaics were visible in the background.

A saffron hoodie accompanied a pair of baggy indigo waterproof pants. A duffel coat was fashioned in Air Force blue. And a white sailor’s collar looked like a large, almost diagonal lapel in the Asian style.

Elsewhere, the collection was just plain fun, with a boat print on what resembled a silvery loose pajama.

PAUL SMITH’S SHOULDERS

The ultra-wide shoulders that defined London in the late 1970s were the focus of British fashion icon Paul Smith, who used the exaggerated style in a pared-down collection.

High, retro-looking buttons on a suit jacket also stood out, as did oversized pockets that looked like a separate layer of clothing.

Smith is a master colorist.

For spring, women’s shades included maize, pastel gray, dandelion and baby pink. The men fared just as well in vivid auburn, sage and blood red.

An ochre coat with crimson lining had perhaps the most sumptuous color combination seen this season.

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Thomas Adamson can be followed at Twitter.com/ThomasAdamson_K