06/30/2012 09:14 EDT | Updated 08/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Kenzo treks to Asian jungle, play on colour in impressive menswear show

PARIS - Kenzo understands colour.

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 colour — 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' colour 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 colour 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 colours.


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