Reviewer: Helen Jones
In The Cult of K*nzo, writer and performer Paula Varjack looks at the modern day obsession with designer names and the consumer culture which feeds it. Her protagonist starts as a four-year old, intrigued by her very well to do Grandmothers smart dresses and expensive perfume, but focuses mainly on her queuing for the launch of the Kenzo/ H&M fashion collaboration in November last year.
Through her performance, she looks into how the collaboration was marketed to fuel the consumer’s desire to own a piece of ‘designer wear’ but how in the end it was simply just another H&M range. She cleverly uses props such as perfume bottles and lipsticks to represent others in the queue for the store opening on the big day and show the conversations between the fashion fans and those there suspected of buying to immediately sell on.
Interspersed throughout the plot line are vignettes on designer culture and how the high-end brands are retailed in such a way to put off the high street shoppers and how the woman managed to persuade herself to enter the stores and how she felt inside them. There’s also a history of the designer Kenzo Takada and how he founded his fashion empire.
The entire show is done in front of a large projection screen which cleverly provides visuals to act alongside as well as information, patterns and some wonderful sketches to run alongside the Kenzo story. Art Director Ben Gregory has produced a stunning visual backdrop for the production which is a movie in its own right.
Paula Varjack is an engaging actor and carries this one-woman show with confidence which draws in the audience. At approximately an hour running time, this isn’t a long show, but it is entertaining. Lifting a slightly cynical curtain on a part of society which gets categorised as being a normal, a need to conform to the pressure of what is seen as necessary, when in fact it is the polar opposite. Sharply observed this is well worth a watch.
Reviewed on 30 May 2019 | Image: Contributed