Kenzo Takada, who created the international luxury fashion house Kenzo, died in Paris on Sunday from COVID-19 complications, according to a spokesperson for his K-3 brand.
“It is with immense sadness that the brand K-3 announces the loss of its celebrated artistic director, Kenzo Takada. The world-renowned designer passed away on October 4th, 2020 due to Covid-19 related complications at the age of 81 at the American Hospital, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France,” the company statement read.
Takada appeared in numerous documentaries and TV series during his career. He also directed the 1981 film “Yume, yume no ato,” which he also wrote.
In 1970, Takada debuted his namesake fashion line in Paris. His “Jungle Jap” featured loud colors and mismatched prints inspired by his travels around the world. It was an instant sensation.
He opened a store in Paris’ Place des Victoires by 1976, and his empire grew from there, including the launch of a perfume. In 1993, his brand was purchased by luxury conglomerate LVMH. He retired in 1999.
“Kenzo Takada was incredibly creative; with a stroke of genius, he imagined a new artistic and colourful story combining East and West — his native Japan and his life in Paris,” said Jonathan Bouchet Manheim, CEO of Takada’s K-3 brand, in a statement.
“I had the chance to work alongside him for many years, always in awe, admiring his curiosity and his open-mindedness. He seemed quiet and shy at first, but he was full of humor. He was generous and always knew how to look after the people close to his heart. He had a zest for life… Kenzo Takada was the epitome of the art of living.”
Born Feb. 27, 1939, in Himeji, in the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan to hoteliers, Takada studied at the Bunka College of Fashion in Tokyo. He moved to Paris in 1965, working as a freelance designer.
He took over a boutique in 1970, and inspired in its decoration by the jungle scenes of painter Henri Rousseau, he merged that aesthetic with Asian styles.
His big break cam when a model of his was put on the cover of Elle magazine. His store was then featured in US Vogue, leading to shows of his collections in New York and Tokyo in 1971.
Takada was inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s penchant for theatrics, showing in a circus tent and featuring himself riding an elephant, with performers riding horses wearing see-through uniforms.
No details on survivors or memorial plans was immediately available.
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