Kenzo Takada, the trend-setting, colourful and East-meets-West Paris based Japanese designer has died of COVID-19. He was 81.
A graduate and one of the first male student of Bunka College of Fashion, Takada moved to Paris in the 60s where he worked freelance until he opened his own Jungle Jap boutique.
Remembered for the way his cross-cultural inspirations and his disarmingly simply view on the world and life, Kenzo’s work “was always about freedom and harmony” as once put by the designer himself. Roomy clothes that allow for unhindered motion, he designed for the runways as well as real-life — wearable on the streets, in the club to theatrical shows.
“Before [Kenzo], all the fashion designer [shows] were very structured — you were wearing a number… The pret-a-porter had not really started. It was really Kenzo who was leading the way — and Yves Saint Laurent also — but Kenzo was the young one” recalled Gunnila Lindblad. French model Inès de la Fressange, whom Takada — as one of the few designers at the time to, put on his runway, said “people would fight to get into a Kenzo show. It was the most glamourous show you could do at the time, because not only was he the first to show with lots of models, he was the first to put celebrities on the runway.”
Besides his personal achievements, he was also one of the founding members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, de Prêt-à-porter des Couturier et des Créateurs de Mode, which is one of the three pillars behind what constitutes today’s French fashion’s governing body.
Venturing not only in the world of fashion, Kenzo, later on, founded his Perfume Empire and drew up his most iconic perfume bottle, consisting of a blooming flower bud and two pebbles. After selling his fashion house to LVMH in 1993 and 50 years from the establishment of the Kenzo fashion brand, Takada launched K3, a luxury homeware and lifestyle brand in January.