Carol Lim and Humberto Leon have long been challenging expectations of what a fashion show can and should be. Both at Opening Ceremony and Kenzo, the creative duo have often used performances to support their collections, and their love of cinema is evident – from the use of actresses such as Natasha Lyonne and Maya Rudolph in campaigns to their own inspired short films. So when the fashion pack arrived at the Kenzo autumn/winter 18 show on Sunday night to find a sprawling film set, complete with strategically positioned cameras, the sense of anticipation was palpable.

As a cast of actors moved from set to set, it became evident that the film showing on the huge screens around the venue was, in fact, being performed live. In the intervals between the presentation of the Men’s and Women’s collections, a moving narrative that focused on Leon’s youth played out in front of the audience. The story recalled the time he shocked his mother by bleaching his hair just before his sister’s wedding, culminating in a euphoric dance scene featuring both actors and models, soundtracked perfectly by The Cranberries’ Dreams – a touching tribute to the late Dolores O’Riordan.

With so much going on, one would assume the clothes themselves would seem insignificant. In fact, they were as exciting as their surroundings. Both the men’s and women’s collections (shown together for the second season) were joyful, innovative and wearable, blending cinematic references – such as prints inspired by slasher movie posters – with 70’s silhouettes, vibrant jewel colours and a plethora of fabrics. Layering silky slip dresses over chunky knits, sweater vests over turtlenecks, and styling with gorgeous accessories and footwear, Leon and Lim proved once again their talent for combining classic Parisian luxury with youth culture in a way that feels authentic and accessible.

The afterparty, held at the legendary (and recently re-opened) club Le Palace echoed this duality – chic editors danced with club kids such as fashion’s favourite drag queen Violet Chacki, to a Disco Smack DJ set, whilst Leon could be found upstairs in the karaoke room. There couldn’t have been a better way to end Paris Fashion Week Men’s. 

Header image by Arnaud Lafeuillade courtesy of Dazed