Japanese Fashion Designer Kenzo Takada died aged 81 on Sunday in Paris. He was also the founder of Kenzo which he created the label in Paris in the 1970s.
His spokesman told French Media that Takada died of complications linked to COVID-19. He passed away at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a residential suburb on the western outskirts of the French capital.
A look into Takada’s unique designs
Takada was known for his colourful motifs, especially floral prints and original silhouettes. They were mixed inspirations from Japan, his home country such as the kimono. Besides, Takada also expanded into perfume and skincare lines to help grow his business.
His style was with an electric mix of colour, touches of exoticism, ethnic prints and folksy embroidery. The style suited the mood of 1970s but adapted well to the sharper-looking 1980s and 1990s.
However, Takada sold his label to LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury group, in the early 1990s. Thus, that also marked his retirement from fashion. Takada later dedicated his time to one-off projects.
Following his retirement from his label, he has since had several other creative directors. At the same time, he explored other design areas involving furniture while maintaining close links to the fashion world.
The Kenzo fashion house wrote on Twitter, “Today, his optimism, zest for life and generosity continue to be pillars of our Maison (House).” It added, “He will be greatly missed and always remembered.”
Ralph Toledano of the Haute Couture Federation said that he wrote a new page in fashion by joining the East and the West.
Takada’s journey to Paris
Takada was born into a family of hoteliers in 1939. He chose art instead of catering. Later, becoming a star pupil at Tokyo’s Bunka Gakuen college. He then worked for Senai, a major chain of fashion shops, but he a dreamt for Paris.
In 1964, the Olympic Games held in Tokyo, Japan. The apartment he was renting in Tokyo had to be demolished to make way for a stadium. Therefore, he received his compensation like all the other tenants.
Takada blew his money on a one-way ticket to Marseille, France by boat. In winter of 1965, he arrived in Paris, hardly speaking any French. Thus, the only job he could get was in a poodle parlour.
Takada’s first store
In 1970, he opened his first store in the Galerie Vivienne. He also renovated his store with a few friends by painting over the walls. According to Takada, the walls were with jungle scenes like Le Douanier Rousseau’s Snake Charmer. He held his first show at the store as “Jungle Jap”. Editor-in-chief of Elle magazine is one of the twenty invited people to the show. She liked the collection so much that she ran it on the front cover.
He became famous overnight. Later, he went on into the knitwear industry with his contemporary interpretations.
Takada told The SCMP in 2019, “When I opened my shop, I thought there was no point in me doing what French designers were doing because I couldn’t do that.”
“So I did things my own way to be different, and I used kimono fabrics and other influences.”
In the 1980s, Takada had already well established on the French fashion scene. Meanwhile, other Japanese designers were making their way in Paris.
Takada presented his first men’s collection in 1983. Later in 1988, his first perfume, Kenzo Kenzo came after.
Early this year, Takada launched a new venture in Paris, a home and lifestyle brand namely K3. It was a collaboration with other designers.
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wrote on Twitter, “Paris is mourning one of its sons today.”
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