Remembering Kenzo Takada

Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, founder of Kenzo, dies from COVID-19 related complications at age 81 on October 4th.

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TRIBUTE TO OUR FOUNDER ??? It is with immense sadness that KENZO has learned of the passing of our founder, Kenzo Takada. For half a century, Mr. Takada has been an emblematic personality in the fashion industry – always infusing creativity and color 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. 1. Kenzo Takada at the Galerie Vivienne boutique 2. KENZO Spring-Summer 1981, Oliviero Toscani @olivierotoscanistudio 3. KENZO Spring-Summer 1984 Show, Jean Luce Huré 1983 @jeanlucephoto 4. Le Pont Neuf in Paris covered with flowers, commissioned by Kenzo Takada as a gift to Parisians in June 1994 5. Kenzo Takada at the KENZO Fall-Winter 2020 Show

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The fashion world mourns Kenzo Takada as news of his death at a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine near Paris, circulates. A spokesperson for the designer confirmed his death whilst his family informed French media that it was COVID-19 related.

Outpourings of love and tributes continue to come in from around the world. Kenzo’s creative director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, wrote on Instagram: “His amazing energy, kindness, talent and smile were contagious. His kindred spirit will live forever. Rest in peace Master.”

Takada’s death was in the middle of Paris Fashion Week 2020, just days after Kenzo’s SS21 show. His legacy will remain as a “joyful soul,” according to Pat Cleveland, model and friend of Takada. Supermodel Naomi Campbell shared on Instagram: “So sad to hear of your loss today…will always remember your smile and humble demeanour…and positivity you shined on us all.”

Takada arrived in Paris from Japan in 1964 with the intention to stay for 6 months, instead he continued living in France for 56 years. His work allowed other prolific designers like Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto to have space within the European fashion realm.

The designer was known for his bold colours and patterns and his mix of Eastern and Western influences. His shows had a theatrical flair and joyful spirit that mirrored his personality and beaming smile.

“Men weren’t allowed into design schools. Being creative was not accepted in Japanese society in the 1950s. And more than anything, my parents opposed the idea of me working in fashion,” Takada once told the Financial Times.

And yet, his time in the fashion industry garnered immeasurable influence and admiration.

Photo Credit: The Guardian

In 1999, Takada retired from his titular fashion house to pursue a career in art but he remained a firm fixture in the fashion industry, particularly in Paris.

“Before Takada, western designers often plucked out influences from East Asia,” said the Business of Fashion. “He flipped the script, reclaiming that heritage by updating whimsical Japanese floral and animal prints for European tastes.”


Find out more about the fashion powerhouse that was Kenzo Takada in FIB’s Renegades of Fashion, down below. 

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