In early December of final yr, about 10 weeks after taking up as inventive director on the French luxurious model Kenzo, the Japanese dressmaker Nigo flew by personal jet from Paris to New York, the place he headed straight for the Midtown Manhattan city home of upscale jeweler Jacob & Co. It was a well-recognized pilgrimage for the streetwear icon, whose urge for food for customized chains with diamond–encrusted pendants has made Jacob “The Jeweler” Arabo his casual biographer. This chronicle of Nigo’s profession started with necklaces with fist-size ape heads impressed by A Bathing Ape, the culture–shifting streetwear model Nigo based in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood in 1993. Then got here the bejeweled greenback indicators commemorating the Billionaire Boys Membership model he cofounded with famous person producer Pharrell Williams a decade later. In celebration of Human Made, the subdued, hypebeast-casual clothes line he launched in 2010, Jacob crafted an assortment of polar bears, geese, and different cartoonish characters solid in diamonds and white gold.
As Nigo strolled the size of Jacob & Co’s tunnel-like showroom, bathed in lighting highly effective sufficient to disclose the issues in any gem, it was clear why LVMH, Kenzo’s dad or mum firm, had such confidence within the youth attraction of a 50-year-old designer. Wearing denims, a white hoodie, and a denim jacket, Nigo had arrived to search out Lil Uzi Vert ready for him. A$AP Rocky quickly adopted. Then got here the report label govt Steven Victor, who summoned a movie crew for an impromptu music video shoot to advertise the album I Know Nigo, a pandemic mission that might blossom into one of many extra attention-grabbing hip-hop information of 2022. The album options 11 songs, all curated by Nigo, with new music by Pusha T; Child Cudi; Tyler, the Creator; and a number of other different rappers whose affiliation with the streetwear icon turned a form of hip-hop flex. The last word flex, although, belonged to Nigo, who demonstrated actual clout by utilizing the event of his new album to reunite, for the primary time since 2009, Clipse and the Neptunes—a defunct rap duo and a seldom lively manufacturing group, introduced collectively once more by their favourite dressmaker.
“Nigo is the grasp curator and tastemaker,” Pusha T informed me in an electronic mail. “His skill to be so influential for therefore lengthy is unprecedented and speaks to his appreciation and love for the tradition.”
Balancing music video shoots together with his work for Kenzo introduced again a well-recognized sensation—one which first struck Nigo twenty years in the past, when A Bathing Ape exploded in America. It was immediately embraced by hip-hop luminaries like Jay-Z, Pharrell, Busta Rhymes, and Kanye West, who, in flip, sought out the designer when visiting Tokyo. “I believed, Oh, right here we go once more,” Nigo stated.
After all, the Kenzo function presents a novel problem. For the primary time in his lengthy profession, the model that might rise or fall on his artistic choices was not one which he constructed himself. As an alternative, the designer traded pure invention for reinvention on the helm of an iconic Paris style home that’s older than him by a number of months. Kenzo Takada, the model’s founder, stays a guiding mild at 18 rue Vivienne, regardless of retiring from the corporate in 1999. Takada’s latest demise, in October 2020, has made Nigo particularly aware of the necessity to steadiness his personal artistic imaginative and prescient with a level of fealty to his late countryman.