Japanese fashion house Kenzo has appointed Felipe Oliveira Baptista as its new creative director. The brand was founded in 1970 by Kenzo Takada.
The Portugese-born, Paris based designer is best known for his work with French label Lacoste, where he was the creative director for eight years until May 2018. They are best known for their iconic tennis shirt and their sportswear has been in high demand for many years, worn by tennis stars such as Andy Roddick and Richard Gasquet.
Baptista’s final collection for Lacoste was inspired by ten endangered species in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, including the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Iberian Lynx.
Starting from today, he will be taking over from Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, who made their first foray into fashion with Opening Ceremony, the New York based brand founded in 2002. Their final collection for Kenzo last month took inspiration from Japan’s female free divers, known as “ama” and thought of as “the last mermaids”. It also included a performance from Solange Knowles.
Known for their bright colours and bold prints – the “evil eye” and painted tigers some of the most recognisable – Kenzo will most likely moved in a new direction under Baptista, who has became known for his minimal aesthetic and muted colour palette. Brand owner LVMH is also hoping his commercial success will help boost Kenzo’s sales, as it brings in less than €400m annually.
In a press release marking Baptista’s appointment, Kenzo’s CEO Sylvie Colin, said: “His innovative and modern creative vision and well-rounded artistic approach will enable Kenzo to reach its full potential while respecting its unique heritage.”
Baptista had this to say: “Kenzo is all about contagious freedom and movement. Everything Mr Takada did was suffused with joy, elegance and a youthful and bold sense of humour. Kenzo’s constant celebration of nature and cultural diversity has always been and remains at the heart of the brand. These two subjects have never felt more relevant and compelling than they do today.”