Leon and Lim still like to think of themselves as outsiders, especially in France and at least because it’s a stance that befits the brand. Kenzo Takada stormed Paris in 1970 to launch the label. He, too, Lim stresses, was once a fresh face on the scene.
“He was the first Asian designer to come into Paris and design for women,” Lim says. “Kenzo really created a new way for women to dress.” His clothes bloomed with colour. They were explosive. They made, Leon adds, an impression. More even than his exact silhouettes or patterns, it’s that spirit of enthusiasm that Leon and Lim have carried over into their own collections for Kenzo. “At the end of the day, the product has to be amazing and people have to want to buy it and wear it—not just for the story, but for how it looks on,” Leon says. “People nowadays have so many options for what they want to wear and how they want to express themselves and that’s great. It just means we have to be that much more attentive and to continue to makes clothes that people can get excited about.”
Ann-Sofie Johansson, Creative Advisor at H&M, has no doubt they’ll pull it off. “We can’t wait to share with everyone the world of Kenzo x H&M with all of its creativity, fun and love of fashion,” she said.
The future—it looks bright.
AT H&M AND AT KENZO, WHAT DEFINES A COMPLETE COLLECTION? HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’VE NAILED IT?
Humberto Leon: ”We like to make sure each piece [in the collection] has its own value and feels special, but at the same time that the collection as a whole feels really united. That means people should be as excited to own a t-shirt as they are to own a dress. Each piece should feel deliberate.”
Carol Lim: ”Yes, and, overall, it’s always about realising strengths and weaknesses. We know what we’re good at and what we can bring. We know what the team at Kenzo is good at and what they can do. We try to give everyone that space to be creative. And then it becomes about letting there be a dialogue between those perspectives. Sometimes, it’s really easy. And sometimes, it’s hard because there are multiple points of view involved. But that’s good! Ultimately, you work it out.”
WHO’S YOUR DREAM CUSTOMER FOR THE COLLECTION?
Carol Lim: ”I think a dream customer is a new customer. We don’t have one girl in mind. And we never have. The more people that discover the brand and come to love the rich history behind the brand and what we’ve created—to us, that’s exciting.”