Photographed by Gabriel
America has not entirely come to grips with its own experience in Vietnam,
but the French have an older one, an era often whitewashed, and as painful to
look back on as the war. And so it was all the more exceptional that Antonio
Marras turned to the Mekong and Colonial Vietnam for inspiration for his
Summer 2006 collection for Kenzo.
Fashion shows are seldom the place to make political statements, and so
Marras concentrated on evoking an era - a certain grandeur now lost to time .
(Even the waltzes used as a soundtrack bore out that theme.) Of the 50
models, the single Indochinese carried a small baby. The sigh that instantly
went up from the audience was probably a reaction to the tenderness of the
moment given that most people in the room were far too young to remember
grainy images from long ago.
Politics aside, the show sizzled. From the opening sailor-inspired outfits
that included a fishnet lacy top and a beret sprouting a tricolor pompom, to
the frothing pleated skirts and tiers of joyful prints, the show was
exuberant. Add in sparkling embroidery, exquisite floral print suits, a
glittering pancho, a vest shining as fresh as new fallen snow, an evening
gown splashed with webs of jet beads, and you can see that Marras has very
convincingly worked with the eclectic tradition of the house to come up with
Without doubt, the Kenzo show won first prize for staging, even before a
boatload of models sailed out onto the stage and silver confetti fell from
the sky. The attention paid to the presentation was as exceptional as the
clothes that were shown.