Felipe Oliveira Baptista’s sophomore outing for Kenzo is protective gear that is not quite PPE. But beekeepers will get it
Kenzo’s Felipe Oliveira Baptista sure knows how to move with the times. For the follow-up to his debut collection for the house, he showed clothes with protective components, but nary a single face mask. Instead, there were the beekeeper’s hat and veil, and fascinating variations of them. We can’t be sure if, outside apiculture, these covering will not arouse curiosity. Unless you are a 6th century Chinese xianu (侠女, swordswoman)! Face shield are, of course, not encouraging stares any more (even fellow LVMH brand Louis Vuitton is selling them), so it is possible that stylish beekeeper gear may blend in the company of other virus-shielding coverings.
Keeping oneself from aggressive bees was not the only potential attack Mr Baptista was concerned with. Four of the hat-and-veils go all the way to the feet, not unlike a burqa. Total protection. That, to us, looked like mosquito netting, which is, of course, really useful in this part of the world, where mozzies carrying the dengue virus are a very real and serious threat, even indoors. Double protection—from bees and mosquitoes (who knew Mr Baptista has such entomological pursuits?)! Would it be a more affordable alternative if we took one from some infant’s baby hammock? But it would be near impossible to nick a floral mosquito netting.
Some of the nettings (the men get theirs too) are part of outerwear (for men as well), which looked to be Mr Baptista’s strength. These are lightweight coats, some possibly rainwear (we could not really tell), with zip fastening so that the hat and veil can be removed when not required, or when no insect is buzzing around. Take away the gimmicky netting (some are packable!) and we see a few intriguingly cut and draped dresses—with piping that meanders trough the bodice, with lace and (more) netting in asymmetric configurations, and with cut-outs and those holes that appeared to be the result of the swirling of fabrics. There was quite a lot to fascinate and delight.
As we go into the final fashion weeks of the big four, it seems that designers are largely split into two camps: a low-key approach that corresponds with the mood of the moment and a high-octane push that seems to punch above the less than positive energy surrounding fashion now. Felipe Oliveira Baptista struck a balance: Offer something visually compelling and, at the same, score with pieces that are wearable—even cute, with utilitarian details (more useful pouch pockets!) and carryable veils and nettings (some can be folded into bags). Mr Baptista has proposed that, while we drive ahead with restoring normalcy in our lives, fashion need not take a backseat.