On Sunday, it was announced that the iconic fashion designer and the founder of Kenzo luxury house, Kenzo Takada, passed away in American hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. He was 81 and died from Covid-19 complications.
Kenzo Takada was the first Japanese designer to gain prominence in the Parisian fashion scene and paved the way for many Japanese designers, such as Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo.
His collections were distinctive in that they were bursting with colour. His floral prints, too, became the symbol of fashion in the 1970s. Kenzo started with a small shop in Galerie Vivienne - one of the most iconic covered arcades in Paris - in 1970 (he painted the walls himself in jungle colours, reminiscent of Henri Rousseau's paintings), with almost no money, but quickly became a fashion wunderkind, thanks to his unique mix-and-match aesthetic and bold designs.
His oversized dresses, often with no zippers, liberated the women’s silhouette and became popular among Parisian industry gate-keepers, who placed one of his designs on the cover of French Elle.
Takada will also be remembered for his sense of humour, one declaring that “fashion should not be too serious”, and often staged his shows in unpredictable locations. Once he held a show in a circus tent, where he appeared riding an elephant, while performers rode horses.
“It is with immense sadness that Kenzo has learned of the passing of our founder,” said the fashion house in a statement. “For half a century, Mr. Takada has been an emblematic personality in the fashion industry, always infusing creativity and colour into the world. Today, his optimism, zest for life and generosity continue to be pillars of our Maison. He will be greatly missed and always remembered.” Takada sold his company to LVMH in 1993, and quit fashion six years later to pursue a career in art. Though he was always there to support his successors. The creative director of Kenzo, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who showed his sophomore collection for the fashion house just a few days ago, wrote yesterday on Instagram, "His amazing energy, kindness, talent and smile were contagious. His kindred spirit will live forever."
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