Fashion designer Kenzo Takada dies of COVID-19 difficulties

Japan’s most well-known fashion designer Kenzo Takada, founder of the world wide Kenzo manufacturer, died in Paris on Sunday aged 81 following contracting COVID-19, his spokesman mentioned.

Takada, the to start with Japanese designer to decamp to Paris and identified especially for his signature floral prints, died in the American Hospital of Paris, the spokesman mentioned in a statement.

His death arrives 50 a long time soon after he introduced his 1st collection in the French cash, which he adopted as his residence. “Just about every wall, each sky and each passer-by allows me establish my collections,” he the moment said of the city.

He retired from fashion in 1999, six many years soon after marketing his eponymous trend brand to luxurious conglomerate LVMH, and dedicated his time to one particular-off tasks, together with a style assortment at the start off of this yr.


Born in 1939 into a relatives of hoteliers, he chose to review artwork not catering, becoming a star pupil at Toyko’s Bunka Gakuen school, in which he carried off the leading prize. He went on to operate for Sanai, a main chain of fashion stores, but dreamed of Paris.

The 1964 Olympic Games ultimately gave him his chance to arrive to Europe. The block of flats in which he was leasing an condominium was to be demolished to make way for a stadium.

Like all the tenants, he was paid compensation and made the decision to blow the dollars on a 1-way ticket on a cargo boat to Marseille.

Arriving in Paris in the wintertime of 1965, hardly speaking any French, the only position he could get was in a poodle parlour.

In 1970, however, he took the lease of premises in the Galerie Vivienne, then a somewhat down-at-heel buying arcade. “With a handful of close friends for 3 months we painted the partitions with jungle scenes like Le Douanier Rousseau’s Snake Charmer and baptised it Jungle Jap,” he recalled later on.

His to start with clearly show using novice models to save cash was held there. One particular of the only 20 persons invited bundled the editor-in-main of Elle journal who liked the assortment so a lot she ran it on the entrance address.

He grew to become a identify virtually overnight. For economical motives his initial collection was created in cotton, generally quilted, a search which young trend leaders took to instantaneously. But his serious effects was with his innovative and fully contemporary knitwear, which revitalised the sector.

In 1976 he recognized his studio and boutique in the Put des Victoires.

By the time the likes of Rei Kawakuba of Commes des Garcons and Yohji Yamamoto arrived from Japan in the early 1980s, Takada was currently properly-founded on the French manner scene.

His very first men’s assortment was presented in 1983 and his very first fragrance, Kenzo Kenzo, in 1988.

From the early 1980s boutiques opened all in excess of the planet in New York, London, Milan, Toyko and Rome, followed later by Hong Kong, Munich, Venice, Bangkok and Singapore.

Intimate Design and style

Kenzo’s intimate style, with its eclectic combine of colour, touches of exoticism, ethnic prints and folksy embroidery, suited the mood of the 1970s but adapted effectively to the sharper-searching 1980s and 1990s.

For inspiration, he drew on his travels as nicely as Japanese get the job done garments, this sort of as his favourite navy tunics and coats. Peruvian striped blanket throws, colourful shawls, oriental blouses, peasant smocks, printed velvet, were all section of his signature.

It was a measure of his results that he was notoriously prey to copyists. British designer Jasper Conran, interviewed on the trouble, explained he realized of a business in South Africa specialising in ripping off Kenzo, seam for seam. “They make a fortune — much more than Kenzo I reckon — but you can find absolutely nothing he can do about it.”

He was manufactured chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1986 by France in recognition of his vocation. He tried his hand at movie-earning with “Reve apres Reve” in 1980 and built costumes for a Stockhausen opera.

Apart from travel, his other obsession was gambling. He guarded his privacy by making himself a home in the region in the very coronary heart of Paris, only a couple of yards from the Bastille opera property, comprehensive with genuine tea pavilion and a pool of carp.