Consider Kenzo a crouching tiger in the near term.
On Monday, the Paris-based fashion house said it would part ways with designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista after a two-year collaboration when his employment contract arrives at its term on June 30.
No immediate successor will be named, and the brand will pursue a different direction, taking the time necessary to settle on the right creative leadership, sources told WWD.
“I have been honored to serve this amazing house and the legacy of its founder Kenzo Takada,” Oliveira Baptista said in a statement. “I would like to thank my teams for their talent and dedication.”
The Portuguese designer brought a sophisticated and artistic touch to Kenzo, partial to enveloping, nomadic silhouettes, many transformable with zippers and drawstrings.
Quite the showman, he brought the brand back to the women’s calendar of Paris Fashion Week and staged two coed shows in a picturesque city park, including a debut that saw models traversing transparent tubes.
His tenure coincided with the death last October of founder Kenzo Takada, due to complications from COVID-19, and he let color, pattern and energy erupt on the runway for fall 2021 as an ode to the Japanese fashion maverick.
In another tribute, last November he launched a Kenzo capsule line in homage to Kansai Yamamoto, who also passed away last year.
The designer tweaked the brand’s logo and tiger emblem, and also oversaw a Kenzo Sport line of parkas, T-shirts and leggings that proved popular.
Sylvie Colin, chief executive officer of Kenzo, expressed her gratitude to the designer “for his talent, creativity and contribution to the artistic development of our house.”
Oliveira Baptista arrived at Kenzo after being the creative director of Lacoste from 2010 to 2018. He succeeded designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who left Kenzo after eight years at the house to focus on their U.S.-based business, Opening Ceremony.
Known for his artfully constructed and experimental creations, Oliveira Baptista created his namesake label in 2003 with his partner Séverine Oliveira Baptista, a year after winning the main fashion prize at the Festival d’Hyères. The brand has been on hold since 2014.
A graduate of Kingston University, Oliveira Baptista took home the ANDAM Award in both 2003 and 2005.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has pursued various creative configurations at Kenzo since the founder left in 1999, initially appointing Gilles Rosier and Roy Krejberg to design the women’s and men’s lines, respectively. Italian designer Antonio Marras ultimately succeeded Rosier in 2004 and continued until 2011, when LVMH repositioned the brand in the then-burgeoning contemporary zone and conscripted Leon and Lim.
Takada was a fashion innovator who brought a gust of color, energy and freshness to the Paris fashion scene since the ’70s — and who also made an indelible mark on the fragrance world.