The artistic director of Kenzo creates updated prints of Takada’s animal symbolisms in the brand’s new collection.
Animal symbolisms are abundant in different forms of art, from paintings and sculptures to folklore and literature. Its use dates back to ancient Sumerian and Egyptian times in the sixth and fifth millennium BC, with animals revered as deities and depicted through ancient texts and sculptures in temples of worship. Over time, artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Henri Rousseau, Jan Brueghel, Frida Kahlo, and more have used animals in their artwork to represent different things, from personal experiences to social commentary.
Today, the use of animal symbolism has gone beyond the confines of traditional art. In fashion, animal symbolism is abundant among brands: Versace has the Medusa head with her snake hair. Hermès has the horse as a reference to the brand’s beginnings. Gucci uses multiple references to animals, such as the bumblebee, kingsnake, tiger, butterfly, and lion, all of which have specific meanings referencing the brand’s history.
One such brand known for its use of animal symbolism is Kenzo. Founder and namesake Kenzo Takada used two animals prominently: his favorite animal, the elephant, either as a motif or a symbol; and a tiger, said to have inspired the designer as well. The brand’s artistic director Nigo pays tribute to Takada’s legacy and the use of these animals in the Ivy League-themed Spring 2023 collection, Kenzo Varsity Jungle.
The collection of printed shirts, sweaters and cardigans combine the Ivy League spirit with Nigo’s updated prints of the Kenzo elephant and tiger. Nigo’s elephant design is informed by 1950s sailor tattoo imagery, while the tiger print is a design that the artistic director first introduced in Kenzo’s Fall/Winter 2022 collections.
These pieces are featured in a new campaign shot by Frank Lebon, who also directed the brand’s Spring/Summer 2023 campaign. In addition to paying tribute to Takada’s animal symbolisms, the campaign celebrates the sense of community as depicted in families and crews.
‘Kenzo Varsity Jungle’ is available in the brand’s Asia stores starting this month.