It’s easy to take for granted the free liberal arts education that comes as a bonus to covering fashion, the arts, literature, historical and cultural references that might never appear on your radar if not for a designer’s inspiration or set. For example, had Carol Lim and Humberto Leon not imported a troupe of Japanese Kagura dancers to perform “Yamata no Orochi,” the story of an eight-headed and eight-tailed dragon that eats a young girl each year, for their spring Kenzo show. I’ll admit that when I initially learned that the show would include a performance and require a 90-minute commitment, I wasn’t in the mood. But Lim and Leon have that magic touch. They opened the audience’s eyes to more than just a cute denim collection inspired by Kenzo Takada’s 1986 Kenzo Jeans launch.
Held in a grungy theater in Pigalle, the show featured nine dancers and some incredible musicians from the Hiroshima Prefecture. Their charming, colorful folkloric costumes and high energy enchanted. The fashion show didn’t play as an afterthought but as an intermission between the dragon consuming the girl and Susanoo, the god of storms, slaying the eight-headed beast. Lim and Leon modernized Takada’s original jeans collection, keeping the Japanese influence strong — of kimonos and wrap belts — but working in minimal, utilitarian cuts for men’s and women’s. T-shirts and tops came embroidered with trompe l’oeil bra tops worn over carpenter jeans slung with fanny packs. They broke up all the indigo with red denim, Hawaiian prints for him and her and sporty swimwear. Styled with white socks and jelly versions of traditional Japanese sandals, the look paid homage to cultural traditions, which was Lim and Leon’s stated goal, yet the actual clothes will easily blend into a stylish, global world.