Kenzo treks to the vivid Asian jungle

Saturday - 6/30/2012, 6:42pm EDT

By Thomas Adamson
AP Fashion Writer

PARIS (AP) - Kenzo understands color.

For spring-summer 2013, the French house founded by a Japanese designer 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 color _ 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' color 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 color 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 colors.

______

Thomas Adamson can be followed at http://Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP


(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)