For spring-summer 2013, the Japanese fashion house travelled to the South Asian jungle—to return with one of the strongest and subtly vivid menswear collections of the season.
“We were inspired by a trip to Thailand last year,” said one half of the design duo, Humberto Leon.
Down the catwalk trekked bright camouflage prints, deer-stalker hats and even canteens with a harness to stay hydrated.
“I wanted to give people a survival kit: everything they might need if they were stranded in the jungle,” added Leon.
But the flirtation with the tropics was just the far-flung concept.
The true strength of the show lay with its grounded and subtle working of tonal color—a trick that few designers manage to grasp.
Light short-sleeved shirts with rolled sleeves and wide Asian-style deep-pleated pants came in yellow, blue and orange.
But the clothes' color was muted, not primary: a careful effect produced by carefully dying material to an exactly matching tonal strength.
The rare result was comfortable harmony.
It invoked founder Kenzo Takada's key philosophy: Clothes should be wearable.
Flashes of vivid color occasionally punctuated the muted palette.
Camouflage print in flashes of bright jewel tones made sure of that—print, another of Takada's codes given good mileage here.
The intense, hazy patterns perfectly captured the rainforest's dappled light, while referencing busy Asian fabric patterning.
One of the must-haves of the show was a pair of pleated baggy pants in florid vermilion.
On their sophomore outing in menswear, Leon and his design partner Carol Lim passed with flying colors.