Kenzo is undergoing changes. Today, the Parisian house announced that its artistic director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, will leave the post and the brand after two years of racing. The news comes months after the founder of the house, Kenzō Takada, passed away in October.
Oliveira Baptista joined Kenzo in 2019, after eight years of managing Humberto Leon and Carol Lim at LVMH. This latest duo led the contemporary and modern house with their easily recognizable patterns (like the tiger emblem) and streetwear-sensitive pieces, their experiential mindset and their quick and accessible road to luxury for ordinary consumers under the form of retail collaborations.
In a natural sense, those who come after fill the shoes of those who came before them, but in the case of Oliveira Baptista, it couldn’t be more different both visually and chronologically. Rather than refer to the path of Humberto and Lim, Oliveria Baptista traveled back in time to Takada’s original innovations and aimed to bring back the traditional – the Kenzo type. Inspired by the house’s archives, Oliveira Baptista focused on freedom, zoomed in on color, merged artistic motifs and maneuvered movement; just like Takada, he wanted the clothes to be exuberant but still livable. Even down to the logo, Oliveira Baptista made sure to pay homage to the house’s roots, changing the clean-lined typography to constructed and detached lettering and removing “Paris” to exemplify Takada’s desire for social and nomadic fashion.
Oliveira Baptista’s tenure at Kenzo is brief compared to her eight-year residency at Lacoste. And although his exit is barely two months away, neither an official replacement nor potential candidates for the post have been announced. As the designer prepares to officially leave the label on June 30, what direction will the brand and designer take next?