Felipe Oliveira Baptista: Who is Kenzo's new creative director?

Designer expected to show first collection in February 2020

Sarah Young@sarah_j_young
Monday 01 July 2019 16:39
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Lacoste profiles 'Save Our Species' campaign in new trailer

Felipe Oliveira Baptista has been named as Kenzo’s new creative director following the news of Carol Lim and Humberto Leon’s departure.

The brand’s owner, LVMH, confirmed the news in a statement marking Oliveira Baptista’s appointment.

Sylvie Colin, CEO at Kenzo, said: “His innovative and modern creative vision and well-rounded artistic approach will enable Kenzo to reach its full potential while respecting its unique heritage.”

But who is the new creative director?

Born in Portugal’s Azores, Oliveira Baptista went on to graduate from London’s Kingston University in 1997, after which he honed his trade working on the design teams at MaxMara, Christophe Lemaire and Cerruti.

In 2003, the designer launched his eponymous label with his wife, Severine Oliveira Baptista, before winning the prestigious Hyeres International Fashion and Photography Festival and Andam/LVMH fashion awards.

In addition to designing under his own name Oliveira Baptista has taken part in a number of high profile collaborations, including ‘AW77’ with Nike and a collection with Uniqlo in 2006.

Despite the success of his namesake brand, the Paris-based designer closed the label after he was offered a position at Lacoste.

Oliveira Baptista became creative director at Lacoste in 2010 and held the position for eight years until May 2018.

In 2016, Lacoste reportedly surpassed €2bn (£1.8bn) in revenue, attesting to his ability to transform a brand into a commercially viable runway mainstay.

Throughout his time at the brand, Oliveira Baptiste oversaw a number of collaborations with labels such as Opening Ceremony and Supreme in a bid to take the brand's signature pieces, such as the polo shirt, and make them more relevant for a younger generation.

The designer also refined his signature style during his tenure at Lacoste with a focus on clean lines, sophisticated silhouettes and a minimal aesthetic.

His final collection for the French label was inspired by endangered species and was a partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Speaking of his appointment at the Japanese label, which was created in 1970 by designer Kenzo Takada, Oliveira Baptiste hinted at the direction he intends to take with the new label: “Kenzo is all about contagious freedom and movement. Everything Mr Takada did was suffused with joy, elegance and a youthful and bold sense of humour.

“Kenzo’s constant celebration of nature and cultural diversity has always been and remains at the heart of the brand.

“These two subjects have never felt more relevant and compelling than they do today and will be instrumental to the future of Kenzo.”

Oliveira Baptista starts his new role at Kenzo on 1 July , and is expected to unveil his first collections for men and women next February during Paris Men’s Fashion Week for autumn/winter 2020.

The designer will be taking over from Lim and Leon who announced they were leaving the fashion house last month.

The duo, who had worked with the label for eight years, said they were departing to focus on Opening Ceremony, the New-York based brand they founded together in 2002.

The co-creative directors presented their final fashion show for Kenzo in Paris last month with a collection inspired by Japan’s female free divers, known as "ama".

“After eight incredibly special years at Kenzo, we are passing the torch of that historic brand with great pride,” the pair said in a statement at the time.

“We are thankful to our wonderful Kenzo team and the LVMH group for the opportunity to take forward Takada’s groundbreaking legacy.

“We are excited to bring so many rich experiences and memories from our time at Kenzo to new frontiers.”

During their time at Kenzo, the designer duo were responsible for repositioning the 50-year-old brand in the contemporary fashion landscape.

As well as breathing new life into the brand’s signature tiger motif, the pair undertook a number of collaborations with affordable brands including H&M and Vans.

They were also praised for bringing diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the company by Collins who claimed the pair "pioneered a modern vision of what it is to be a creative director".

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