Kenzo Takada, the founder of the Kenzo luxury fashion brand, has died in a Paris hospital due to COVID-19. The announcement of his death comes just days after his brand revealed its latest collection at Paris Fashion Week.

Takada’s death was announced on October 4 by his brand, which he left in 1999 but still retained influence. It announced the news to his followers on Twitter and Instagram. The post read, ” It is with immense sadness that KENZO has learned of the passing of our founder, Kenzo Takada. For half a century, Mr. Takada has been an emblematic personality in the fashion industry – always infusing creativity and color into the world. Today, his optimism, zest for life and generosity continue to be pillars of our Maison. He will be greatly missed and always remembered.”

The fashion mogul had died after being admitted to Hôpital Américain de Paris due to COVID-19 related complications.

The Japanese-born designer and expatriate had made Paris his home since the 1960s, leaving his mark on its fashion industry.

Born in Himeji, Japan to a hotel-owning family, the young Takada was first introduced to fashion through magazines belonging to his sisters. From there, a spark was ignited that led him to enroll in Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College, as one of its first-ever male students, notably winning accolades in 1961 in a school-wide competition. While working at a department store designing 40 girls’ outfits a month, he lost his home due to his apartment being demolished for the 1964 Summer Olympics. One of his professors, who was educated at L’École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, inspired him to use the compensation the Japanese government gave him to find a new home to take a month-long boat ride to France. An eponymously titled book, Kenzo Takada, states his first impression of Paris was that it was “dismal and bleak,” though he quickly changed his mind after seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral for the first time.

What was meant to be a temporary stay in a foreign country turned into a lifelong stay, eventually renting out space at Galerie Vivienne to display his first-ever fashion collection, made using fabrics from a local flea market. He went on to open his first store called Jungle Jap, which later became Kenzo due to Japanese Americans’ complaints about the term “Jap” being used commercially. His fashion collections were displayed from New York to Tokyo to critical acclaim. While Takada officially retired in 1999, he still kept working on other projects such as hotel design in Dubai. Takada had just launched a new lifestyle brand called K3 just months before his death.

Takada leaves behind no children. His partner Xavier de Castella died of an illness related to AIDS in 1990.


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