Kenzo Takada, the designer and founder of the brand Kenzo, died on Sunday due to complications from coronavirus in Paris, according to a spokesperson. The Japanese-born, Paris-based fashion magnate was 81 years old.
Takada was educated at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. In preparation for the 1964 Summer Olympics, the Japanese government compensated him for the destruction of his apartment. He used the money to travel to France, initially to visit, but the stay became permanent.
He made a splash on the scene in 1970 with his first boutique, Jungle Jap, a name which inspired controversy. The following year his work was featured on the cover of Elle. Takada was known for mixing prints, bold colors, and florals, and he became the first prominent designer of Japanese origin in Paris. He had a brash, flamboyant style, even within the context of French fashion. (During one of his shows, he rode an elephant.)
He sold his company to LVMH in 1993, then retired from fashion in 1999. The Kenzo brand, which continues, grew to include more accessories and a children’s line. In recent years, Takada began working in decorative arts, home objects, and some occasional theatrical and opera design. He was made a knight of the Legion of Honor in 2016, and in January of this year he launched the lifestyle brand K3.
“With a stroke of genius, he imagined a new artistic and colourful story combining East and West,” K3 CEO Jonathan Bouchet Manheim said. “He was generous and always knew how to look after the people close to his heart. He had a zest for life.”
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, shared her “immense sadness” at the news.
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