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Kenzo charts new territory with menswear display

PARIS – A legion of linen-clad explorers, their tailored pantsuits washed to a neutral palette of grays, greens and cream by a punishing tropical climate, charted new territory for Kenzo on Saturday.

With its reined-in silhouettes and faded shades, the spring-summer 2010 menswear collection was an exercise in restraint for the Paris-based label, known for its mismatched prints in vibrant colors.

Antonio Marras, the brand's designer, looked for inspiration to Pierre de Brazza, the 19th century Italian-born explorer who took part in expeditions in central Africa and was the namesake of the capital of the Republic of Congo, Brazzaville.

"It's like (a) meeting of this explorer and the characters from the Bertolucci film 'The Sheltering Sky,' who have a sort of dandified air about them," the exuberant Italian told The Associated Press in a backstage interview.

The prints were subtle — faded, leafy landscapes and botanical pen-and-ink drawings that looked as if they'd spent a rainy season outside.

Like other Paris designers, Marras layered shorts over knee-length leggings that looked like abbreviated thermal underwear. He paired the shorts with light, linen blazers, oversized cable knit sweaters and fluttering rain slickers.

The footwear — sandals and desert boots — had sensible rubber soles for long marches through unforgiving terrain. Some models wore straw Panama hats with an extra-tall side crown, while others toted oversized carryalls in gray and drab python.

And because it wouldn't be a Kenzo show without a theatrical final touch, the dozens of sand-filled glass jugs hanging from the rafters on both sides of the catwalk tipped over one after another, creating little dunes as the models took their final spin.

A mist of dust rose from sand, enveloping the line of models in romantic haze as they trudged, single file, off the runway in search of new horizons.