Kenzo Takada, the founder of international luxury fashion house Kenzo, has died from COVID-19 complications at age 81 in Paris, France.
The news of his passing came during Paris Fashion Week and was announced by a spokesperson for the designer’s luxury brand K-3, which was only launched in January, according to CNN
“It is with immense sadness that the brand K-3 announces the loss of its celebrated artistic director, Kenzo Takada,” the statement reads. “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.”
Takada, who was born in Himeji, near Osaka, in 1939, made his way to Paris in 1965, BBC
The Paris-based designer introduced his flagship store in Paris’ Place des Victoires in 1976 after starting his namesake fashion line in 1970. He was known for his bright-colored graphics and jungle-inspired designs.
Takada’s clothes were mostly inspired by Japanese designs. He said he didn’t want to “do what French designers were doing”
However, Takada encountered controversy when he first opened his store Jungle Jap. In an interview with the New York Times in 1972
, he said he was aware of the meaning of “Jap,” especially in the United States.
“I knew it had a pejorative meaning,” he said. “But I thought if I did something good, I would change the meaning.”
Over the decades, Takada collected several awards and accomplishments for his venture, including magazine covers on Elle, the launch of his perfume empire and the selling of his brand to French luxury conglomerate LVMH. He retired from fashion in 1999 to pursue other projects.
Takada’s luxury fashion house made headlines in 2018
after they featured 83, all-Asian models for its 2018 clothing line.
“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,” K-3 CEO Jonathan Bouchet Manheim, said 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 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.”
A spokesman of Takada’s said the designer, with his nearly 8,000 designs, “never stopped celebrating fashion and the art of living.”
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also paid tribute to the late fashion designer on Twitter, saying, “Designer of immense talent, he had given colour and light their place in fashion. Paris is now mourning one of its sons.”
Feature Image via Getty