Japanese designer Kenzo Takada has died from COVID-19 complications.
Takada moved to Paris in 1960 and attended Bunka College of Fashion. He worked as a freelance designer until he opened his Jungle Jap boutique in 1970.
Through his collections, Takada aimed to break down racial boundaries and help build a cultural yet global identity.
“My work was always about freedom and harmony,” Takada said in an interview with Vogue in 2000. “I’d like to be remembered as a designer who crossed boundaries.”
Takada will be remembered for his ability to intertwine cultural inspirations which ultimately created the Kenzo identity. Takada was known for bringing together elements from different ethnic styles, his use of layers, his roomy aesthetic and his need for relevance in his pieces even off the runway.
Several of his collections drew inspiration from North Africa with elements from India; Chinese aesthetic combined with accessories from Portugal; Mexican rebozos and Scandinavian sweaters. The list goes on.
Takada always had a way of connecting with younger generations through his pieces: Kenzo pieces became hot streetwear, clubwear, for raves and theaters.
In 1984, Takada was made Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for his significant contributions toward the enrichment of the French cultural inheritance.
He went onto sell Kenzo to LVMH in 1993 and retired six years later but then returned this January with the launch of K-3, a luxury home and lifestyle line.
“Kenzo Takada has, from the 1970s, infused into fashion a tone of poetic lightness and sweet freedom which inspired many designers after him. In this fresh and spontaneous spirit, he also durably renewed the world of perfume. The House he had established, KENZO, still explores his vision. I’m very sad to learn about his passing and express my sincerest sympathy to his family and friends,” said Bernard Arnault, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, LVMH in a statement.
“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.“ declared Sylvie Colin, CEO of the Maison.
Kenzo Takada was 81 years old at the time of his death.