#SuzyPFW: Lacoste Returns to Paris; Kenzo Revisits Japan

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After a 15-year absence, Lacoste (left) has returned to France and infused its collection with Parisian flair, while Kenzo La Collection Memento looked back to the founding designer’s roots in Japan, as in this bamboo-print ensemble

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While sparkle, glitter, and shine are dominating fashion shows where glamour comes first, sport is also holding its own in the Paris Spring/Summer 2018 shows.

Lacoste: Gender Blending

“It’s like a homecoming for the brand, and for me as well. It’s good to be back in Paris,” said Lacoste’s Creative Director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, referring to the return to the motherland of a brand that had been showing for nearly 15 years in New York.

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The Jardin des Tuileries in Paris might seem an unusual venue for a sports match. But the designer makes clothes that bring sportswear into daily life. He also achieves one of the smoothest merges of masculine and feminine – probably because sport is the great leveller.

“It’s really about thinking about sports and its evolution and the balance of the two,” Baptista said. “It’s always about elevating sportswear, pushing it forward and the idea of wearing sportswear as daily clothes.”

The show started with two key pieces: the blazer and the zippered jacket. But sport soon won over tailoring with elements taken from smart casual looks being presented in a punchy way, for example a women’s button-through dress was turned into a strapless coat.

It all worked as part of an Eighties vibe that the designer used casually and wisely. Nothing looked dated, probably because that was the period when sportswear to lounge in began.

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The real founder of sports clothes was, of course, René Lacoste himself, back in the Twenties. And with the crocodile logo, the brand has never been out of the tennis court.

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Baptista has a real knack for giving a modern flourish to his work – without overdoing it. True, there was a dress when a pattern that might have been floral blooms was actually tennis balls. But the coolest look was an absolutely plain version of the famous polo, worn at an angle and baring one shoulder. Giving sportswear a twist is the new definition of Lacoste.

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Kenzo: Japan Calling

The Hollywood adage never to perform with animals or children might have applied to Kenzo. For the second of what they call La Collection Memento or memory-inspired collections, the design duo of Humberto Leon and Carol Lim lent the stage at the Paris Trianon theatre to a Japanese performance bringing to life a magnificent swishy-tailed dragon.

Whatever the mythical meaning of the story, it made for a great performance, and it is to the design duo’s credit that with such a dramatic show they managed to make relevant their ode to the original Kenzo Takada and his launch of a jeans collection in 1986.

More than 30 years on, Humberto and Carol proved two things: how much their joint Asian-American backgrounds help to feed the backstory, and what you can do today with denim. Or, as they put it in a joint statement: “Today, as Asian-Americans, we are excited to honour this historic collection and modernise it with our own eyes.”

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It was often hard to believe that the clothes were denim related, especially as what was described as “samurai-red denim” immediately challenged the concept that the show would be in shades only of blue. The Eastern element appeared immediately, as a Hokusai illustration at the hemline of a coat.

The new denim treatments at Kenzo La Collection Memento included this Hokusai-print panel on a wrap skirt

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The male/female show continued with a casual, sporty collection that modernised the original Eighties shapes but also added Asian touches, such as a striking bamboo print. Those patterns became wilder and more tropical for swim and beachwear.

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Between the Japanese performers raising the dragon and the buoyant collection, the mood at Kenzo was upbeat. But a statement from the designers suggested a global vision:

“As Americans working at a French house on a denim collection, we can’t help but talk and think about all our amazing memories of running around in our favourite jeans,” they said. “This collection, being a mix of inspirations from Asia to America, is a tribute to self-expression. For us as Americans, now more than ever, it’s time to celebrate diversity and free-thinking.”

Designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the joint creative directors of Kenzo, at their Paris show

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