Felipe Oliveira Baptista raises questions about the fate of our environment—and how to leverage the present toward a more optimistic future

Kenzo creative director Felipe Oliveira Baptista has a few questions. Namely, what the hell is going on in the world? The French brand’s Spring/Summer 2021 offering is an apiary-themed collection that renders models as beekeepers and already has the internet teeming with excitement.

Marked by lavender palettes and design elements that cross-pollinate the brand’s time-honored fidelity to tigers and flower patterns updated for the digital age, the latest collection is a full expression of the solemnity and precarity of the present world.

“So, where do we go from here? How do we move on? How can we help people? Make them dream?” Baptista implores us to explore the deeper ontology of this moment. Inspired by dichotomy—the collection juxtaposes heritage and innovation; positions melancholy against joy; and leverages the reality of this present experience against a more optimistic future.

The oversized and diaphanous fabrics draped over models create a kind of luxury beekeeper suit, a rich and emblematic leitmotif that conjures visions of personal safety and protection as well as anonymity and audacity. It reflects the reflex of exigent concerns around health, while also serving as a reminder to love our planet—bees are the catalyst of all food and life and their extinction has profound implications for humanity’s relationship with the planet itself. 

And while fashion has struggled to keep pace with the commercial demands and the quixotic nature of the fashion week schedule, Baptista proves he has been a busy bee, drawing inspiration from limitation. In his first year at Kenzo, Baptiste already has the fashion world buzzing. What else has he got going on in the Kenzo hive?