FRANCE-JAPAN-FASHION-OBIT-KENZO

Rest in Peace!

Fashion designer Kenzō Takada dies during Paris Fashion Week due to COVID-19 related complications

The designer was hospitalized at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, but passed after battling for his life for a few weeks.

Japanese-French fashion designer Kenzō Takada left the physical world after experiencing complications related to the novel coronavirus. The designer was hospitalized at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, but passed after battling for his life for a few weeks. “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,” Takada‘s luxury K-3 brand revealed in a statement according to CNN.

Takada, known for his quote: “Fashion is like eating, you shouldn’t stick with the same menu,” and for introducing his Japanese influences to high-end European fashion and beauty through perfumes, skincare products, and colorful clothes, saddens Paris Fashion Week. “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,” Jonathan Bouchet Manheim, CEO of Takada‘s K-3 brand said.

“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 humour. 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,” he added.

“When I opened my shop, I thought there was no point in me doing what French designers were doing because I couldn’t do that,” Takada told The South China Morning Post in 2019. “So I did things my own way in order to be different, and I used kimono fabrics and other influences. Everything has changed, from the way we make clothes to the way information spreads and how many seasons there are now,” he said.

The same year, he reminisced about his trips during the 70s and how they influenced his brand and what we know today as Kenzo, a French luxury fashion house. “There was much more of a cultural gap when you were traveling from one country to the next,” he told CNN. “So that really drove me and gave me a lot of influence and inspiration to work on different things around my trips.”

“A French way of working with fashion definitely influenced me, and much later, I started to blend other cultures into that specific fashion,” he said. “Of course now, fashion is everywhere; in New York, Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo, everywhere. But I think Paris stays very important.” For the late designer, “Fashion is not for the few — it is for all the people.” He told The New York Times in 1972 that “It should not be too serious.”

“Kenzo Takada was a very special figure in the Parisian fashion world,” said Olivier Gabet, director of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, as reported by The Times. “So many people who disliked or hated each other very often did agree on the fact they loved him.”

“His first fashion shows were memorable,” Gabet said. “Light and playful, with models more dancing and walking than presenting clothes, far away from the hierarchical vision of French couture.”

In the middle of the pandemic and during the United States’ social unrest, on June 25, 2020, Kenzo unveiled its first American flagship store. Located on the corner of Grand and Mercer in SoHo, Manhattan, the brand immediately solidarized with the Black Lives Matter protests. “Kenzo is founded on the values of optimism, freedom, inclusivity, and diversity. We condemn all forms of racism, discrimination, and oppression. We stand in solidarity with the Black community,” they said in a statement, according to Forbes.

The current artistic director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, took social media to farewell the great Kenzō Takada. “FAREWELL MASTER,” Baptista wrote. “His amazing energy, kindness, talent, and smile were contagious. His kindred spirit will live forever.”