Sneak peak at Kenzo's winter

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 May, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 May, 1995, 12:00am

IT'S hot and humid, and the very thought of winter clothes, even if they are by Kenzo, is about as appealing as pulling one's own teeth. Relax. This is only a glimpse of what's to come and I promise these clothes won't hit the stores until . . . well, late July at least.

Kenzo, the Japanese designer best known for his wildly colourful palette and adopted 'Parisian gaiety', opened his show in Hong Kong on a surprisingly sombre note, when neat little charcoal grey, black or ivory suits with very slim knee length pencil skirts hit the catwalk.

Was this the Kenzo of the technicoloured-too-bright-for-Miami-floral-pallazo-pants Kenzo? Elegantly cut fitted jackets and box pleated car coats passed in front of bewildered eyes. The occasional cowhide or faux fur accent on collar and cuff were the only clues that this wasn't a Jil Sander but a Kenzo show after all, and these perfectly tailored garments were just a witty and sophisticated continuation of last season's New Length Belted Suit.

His menswear was just as restrained with barely visible grey pinstripes on grey and black jackets which were elongated to just below the hip, sometimes double-breasted and paired with an elegant narrow trouser.

The lights went down and up again as ultra bright angora knits came out in a wild day-glo parade. This was pure Kenzo.

The 1960s (still fashion's favourite era) style boxy suits came in fuzzy pink or canary yellow mohair and sharply contrasting red tights and matching high heels were shown with everything.

This brightly coloured group was obviously in sharp contrast to the first, but it was the menswear that stole the show.

Velvet suits in rich jewel tones had slender lines with narrow shoulders and trousers and were accessorised with snappy contrasting mohair scarves for the catwalk.

But it was the matching (or sometimes contrasting) waistcoats in emerald green, bright gold, sapphire or even orange that anchored the look and kept the unusual colour scheme from overpowering what would otherwise be a perfectly normal three-piece suit.

Knitwear is a staple of the Kenzo label, and for winter he seems to be taken with a kind of Alpine theme. Cable stitched angora cardigans came in day-glo brights or Heidi-esque Fair Isle patterns. Cropped and belted jackets were paired with black ski pants or baggy knickerbockers.

Translation: mere mortal women won't stand a chance of looking decent in them in most cases, even on the golf course.

The safe and sane Kenzo who started his show with wearable, everyday pieces seemed to spin further and further away from reality as the show progressed.

Just when we had resigned ourselves to the thought that the grown-up Kenzo group was a flash in the pan, out came a stunning collection of slick menswear separates.

Women's evening wear at Kenzo consisted of a sort of Oriental theme in satin, lace and lame. Ankle length full overskirts were tied over sheer palazzo pants and teamed with wrap and tie blouses that fell kimono-style in the back. The whole group seemed to be based on a wrap and tie concept.

As a finale to the winter collection (Kenzo went on to show Resort, but more of that later) he made an interesting compromise between the currently fashionable classic restraint and his own colourful signature style.

The last group was decidedly Retro, 50s Retro to be specific. Satin portrait collar or high neck, pleated ruff blouses topped skinny Capri pants and were accessorised with wide satin cinch belts and faux fur stoles.

It was colourful, it was fun, it was very, very Kenzo. It's just that we couldn't stop thinking of those first fabulous, wonderfully wearable suits. Perhaps designers have got it wrong. Girls don't just wanna have fun . . . sometimes they just want something nice to wear to work.