On the Scene

Pusha T Headlines the U.S. Debut for Kenzo’s Newest Creative Director, Nigo

To celebrate the brand’s newest drop, inspired by craftsmanship, Jaden Smith, Evan Mock, Julio Torres, and more filled the New Museum’s Sky Room.
Image may contain Human Person Pusha T and Photographer
Courtesy of Kenzo.

When word got out last fall that Japanese streetwear legend Nigo was going to take the reins at the expressive LVMH-owned brand Kenzo, it was a sign that the brand was pursuing a bit of swagger along with its reputation for vibrant, eye-catching design. As a founder of A Bathing Ape, a streetwear brand that helped make drops and grails the industry standard, Nigo amassed a collection of fans and friends from the hip-hop world, and ever since his first Paris show in January, it’s been clear that he’s infusing that spirit into his work for Kenzo. On Saturday night, the brand brought it to Manhattan with its first U.S. event during his tenure, a party at the New Museum honoring the on-sale date for the most recent release.

Clockwise, from left: Jaden Smith, Luna Blaise, Evan Mock, Vashtie Kola, Fiffany Luu

Courtesy of Kenzo.

The museum’s seventh-floor Sky Room was transformed with a projection of one of the floral prints from the June collection, and a handful of guests were already wearing the print. The signature cocktails, a Bellini spritz, a gin and tonic, and a whiskey sour came with a garnish of edible flowers referencing the decor. Amid sets from DJ Drama and Michael Gray Simpson, guests including Julio Torres, Jaden Smith,  Evan Mock, Nico Hiraga, and Selah Marley padded the gallery space and its wraparound glass balcony. Chunky shoes and body-con dresses reminiscent of the early 2000s were the style mandate, while the music brought back hits from the late 2000s, like M.I.A. and Kanye “Ye” West. 

Pusha T

Courtesy of Kenzo.

When surprise performer Pusha T showed up, the true promise of Nigo’s tenure at Kenzo was made perfectly clear. Pusha, the Virginia Beach–hailing rapper whose April album It’s Almost Dry hit the number one spot on the Billboard 200, arrived in a peony-embroidered denim chore coat and matching baggy (but not too baggy) jeans. Think of it as the updated and nature-inspired version of the signature parka-and-denim outfits he wore as a member of Clipse decades ago. Pusha took to the front of the room and performed for a crowd of superfans with cell phones raised in the air to share the moment with their followers.

“It felt like a classic NYC party night, it was the right mix of people from all different fields who embody culture. It was definitely a fun night and I was happy I could be there to celebrate with Nigo,” Pusha T said by email. “I love that Nigo is still fresh and creating new things that he’s excited about, it is exciting for me as a friend and fan.”

After the party, Nigo explained that inviting Pusha to perform was one way he has been bringing his own tastes to his new role. “I’ve been friends with Pusha for about 20 years—which is still amazing to me as I was a fan before we ever met,” he said via email. “It’s totally natural to me to bring my own music culture into Kenzo and that means I get to continue to work with friends like Pusha who’ve supported me so much in my career. Honestly, I don’t know any other way to do it!”

Nigo

Courtesy of Kenzo.

In his early outings with the brand, the designer is emphasizing his connections to Kenzo Takada, the late designer who founded the brand more than 50 years ago. The choice to host the party at the New Museum honored the brand’s long-standing connections to artists and creative communities—and the specific print projected on the wall came from the Kenzo archive in the 1970s.

“I think of Kenzo-san as being the first person to really bring music into Paris fashion—the shows were like parties with music and musicians taking a central role,” he said. “My own approach has always been based on the understanding that fashion and music are fully linked: two sides of the same culture that fascinates me. That’s one of the big reasons I feel comfortable to follow in Kenzo-san’s footsteps at the House he created: I think our approach to the role of music is similar.”