50 years after his first collection in Paris, Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada was pronounced dead from complications linked to COVID-19, in the early hours of October 4th, Sunday. Hospitalised at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, the 81 year old designer was revered for his signature floral prints, and lionized for infusing a tone of “poetic lightness and sweet freedom” into every piece of design.
Born in the Himeji, Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan, to a pair of hoteliers, Kenzo Takada’s lifelong love for fashion developed at an early age, particularly through reading his sisters’ magazines. Having briefly attended the Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Kenzo Takada never graduated, and instead completed his studies at Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College, which in 1958, had just opened its doors to male students.
Greatly inspired by La Ville Lumière and its innumerable legends, specifically, Yves Saint Laurent – Kenzo Takada embarked on a month-long boat trip to Paris, porting every so often at Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Djibouti, and Egypt. Miles away from home, the designer first arrived at the Gare de Lyon train station on 1 January 1965. Noting the city’s unapologetically dismal and bleak nature, it wasn’t long before a dazzling kaleidoscope of sights and sensations inspired Kenzo Takada’s simple and childlike mantra: “The world is beautiful.”
Leaving behind a monumental legacy, and an eponymous fashion brand, dubbed K-3, which was renowned for merging both Eastern and Western ideals whilst celebrating a multi-hued world that is harmonious and eclectic – Kenzo Takada, who retired in 1999, will go down in history for crossing every boundary ever set, starting from his first-ever collection of kimono-inspired pieces and slender suits, all of which through processes of darts, seams, and fastenings, showcased a custom wrapping of loose layers.