Kenzo is 40!

Having just presented four catwalk shows at the V&A to celebrate the 40th anniversary of cult Japanese label Kenzo, designer Antonio Marras talks to Dazed about Japanese style meeting Sardinian summers

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Fashion in Motion: KENZO © V&A Images

Blending Kenzo Takada’s Japanese heritage with his Sardinian roots have always been the key interests of designer Antonio Marras. Working as a designer at Kenzo since 2003, and its creative director since 2008, Marras has been translating those ingredients into an eclectic style that doesn’t shy away from bold colours, prints and clashing textures – all of which lie at heart of the Parisienne brand.

Coinciding with the label’s 40th anniversary, the designer has just presented his spring/summer 11 collection as part of the Fashion in Motion series at London’s V&A. Drawing upon the idea of a Japanese traveller visiting Sardinia, loose tunic shapes and stripe prints hinted at Marras’s Mediterranean inspiration. Meanwhile, the oriental influence gained its momentum in Geisha-style neon platforms, kimono shapes and multiple renditions of Hokusai’s wave print.

Dazed Digital: What were the key elements of Kenzo Takada’s style that you were looking at while designing the collection?
Antonio Marras: The colours, the fantasy and the dreams. Also the mix of prints and textures that shouldn’t technically work together, but they somehow do. 

DD: And how did you combine those with the influence of your native Sardinia?
Antonio Marras: Tha starting point for this collection was D.H. Lawrence’s book “Sea and Sardinia”. It tells the story of his first journeys to Sardinia and the local tradtions he discovered there. Sardinia’s traditions are very rich and decorative, while Japanese aesthetic is very simple and graphic. So we combined those by mixing Japanese prints such as waves and cherry blossoms with simple stripes, which you can find on Sardinian aprons for example.

DD: There were a lot of contrasting textures in the show. Is the selection of fabrics something that always sets off your design process?
Antonio Marras: Fabrics and textures are always my starting point. Maybe that’s because I was literally born in a fabric shop? It was definitely through textiles that I first got introduced to fashion.

DD: What else are you planning for the celebration?
Antonio Marras: There is the Rizzoli book that just came out. It’s the first book devoted entirely to history of the Kenzo. We’ve also introduced re-editions of some our past products and had a big anniversary show in Paris. It feels both like a celebration and a starting point. I believe it’s the start of a new phase for us.

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