French-Japanese fashion designer, Kenzo Takada, famed for his name-sake fashion label died on October 4 at a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. At the time of his death, Takada was 81. The news was broken in a statement released by his family to the French media.
Kenzo Takada was born in Himeji, Japan, to hoteliers, on February 27, 1939. He developed a love of fashion by reading his sisters’ fashion magazines. His love for fashion pushed him to study at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo. After that, he worked briefly in Japan before relocating to Paris to work as a freelance designer.
As with most careers, Takada met a lot of struggles whilst in Paris. During this time, Takada worked as a stylist at a textile manufacturer named Pisanti. Soon after, he saved enough money to get his own shop.
He started designing and his efforts paid off. In June 1970, Elle magazine featured one of his designs on its cover. Takada made a collection that was presented in New York City and Tokyo in 1971. The next year, he won the Fashion Editor Club of Japan’s prize.
In October 1976, Takada opened his flagship store, Kenzo.
Takada’s first men’s collection was launched in 1983. In August 1984, The Limited Stores announced that they had signed Takada to design a less-expensive clothing line called Album by Kenzo. A children’s line called Kenzo Jungle, as well as men’s and women’s jeans, was released in 1986.
He became a household name when he ventured into the perfume business. He first experimented with perfumes by releasing King Kong in 1980, which he created “just for fun”. In 1988, his women’s perfume line began with Kenzo de Kenzo. The groundbreaking FlowerbyKenzo, launched in 2000, and became one of the most favorable perfumes of all time.
In 1993, the brand, Kenzo, was bought by the French luxury goods company LVMH.
Takada announced his retirement in 1999 to pursue a career in art, leaving Roy Krejberg and Gilles Rosier to handle the design of Kenzo’s men’s and women’s clothing, respectively. After a few years off, he wanted to take a new direction, stating “when I stopped working five years ago, I went on vacation, I rested, I traveled. And when I decided to work again, I told myself it would be in decoration, more than fashion.”
Takada was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour on 2 June 2016. He was further honored by a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Fashion Editors’ Club of Japan Awards in 2017. That same year, Takada unveiled a new collection with Roche Bobois, giving its Mah Jong sofa new upholstery and creating a line of ceramics. Following his departure from the fashion industry, Takada occasionally ventured back into fashion.
In 2019, Takada did what he loved by designing costumes for a production of Madama Butterfly by the Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation.
In January 2020, Takada announced that he would be launching a new lifestyle brand named K3. The brand made its first appearance on 17 January 2020 at the Maison et Objet trade show, as well as in a Parisian showroom.
Kenzo Takada may have died, but his brand will always remain an integral part of the global fashion industry.