Kenzo Casts All-Asian Runway Show to Honor Japanese Heritage

Photo: Alessandro Lucioni/Alessandro Lucioni

Kenzo designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim cast a runway show with all Asian models for their spring 2018 collection of brightly colored short-sleeved sweaters and fuzzy socks. The design duo announced afterward on Instagram that they chose the “directional casting” for the combined men’s and women’s show because, “We felt like it would be really beautiful and poetic to cast a full Asian cast and celebrate the heritage of the brand.”

The show was a two-act play (one for men’s, one for women’s) titled The Red String of Fate. Per Fashionista, each act has a separate muse — first composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, then Japanese model Sayoko Yamaguchi.

The show comes after several years of slow (very slow) progress in runway diversity. In the fall 2017 shows, only 27.9 percent of models were women of color across all four fashion weeks — and that was a “banner year” according to the Fashion Spot, which published diversity reports for each season.

The designers told Vogue that the show was not inherently political, though. “We’ve gone political; we’ve addressed climate; we’ve gone on very topical things, and we wanted to almost step back and really have fun with this collection,” Leon said. “I think we use our platform so instinctively for different reasons, and we just wanted to use it for joy.”

Kenzo Casts All-Asian Runway Show to Honor Japanese Heritage