Founder of fashion brand Kenzo dies from coronavirus

Kenzo Takada, the founder of global fashion company Kenzo, has died at the age of 81 from coronavirus.

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The Japanese fashion designer was at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, when he died on 4 October.

Takada was born in Japan but moved to Paris in 1964, at which point he began his fashion career.  In 1970, he launched his namesake fashion line, which proved wildly popular with its loud colours and vibrant prints. 

Kenzo was later purchased by luxury conglomerate LVMH in 1993, with Takada retiring from the company in 1999.

After stepping down from his eponymous line, the designer continued to pursue other creative pursuits, including most recently a luxury homeware and lifestyle brand called K-3.

“It is with immense sadness that the brand K-3 announces the loss of its celebrated artistic director, Kenzo Takada,” the company said in a statement. 

“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.”

Jonathan Bouchet Manheim, CEO of Takada’s K-3 brand, also shared a statement following Takada’s death, in which he reflected on the designer’s “curiosity and open-mindedness”.

“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,” he said in a statement to CNN.

“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.

Kenzo shared a tribute to its founder on Instagram, where the brand said Takada would be “greatly missed and always remembered”.

“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 colour into the world,” the statement reads. 

“Today, his optimism, zest for life and generosity continue to be pillars of our Maison. He will be greatly missed and always remembered.”

In 2019, Takada discussed his departure from fashion design, telling CNN that he still sketches, but no longer for luxury fashion. 

“I’m still sketching, but not for fashion today. I like fashion, but in fashion you must do something new every season: new shootings, new concepts, new materials, every single thing changes so quickly,” he said. “So I stopped at the right time, I think. Now I do costumes for opera.”

At the time, the designer also opened up about his ongoing love for Paris, and how the fashion capital influenced his career.  

“Paris for me, I definitely saw it as the capital of fashion and today there’s still that certain elegance, French elegance, a French way of dressing,” he told the outlet. “A French way of working with fashion definitely influenced me and much later I started to blend other cultures into that specific fashion. 

“Of course now, fashion is everywhere; in New York, Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo, everywhere. But I think Paris stays very important.”

News of his death comes a day after the brand showed its spring/summer 2021 collection at Paris Fashion Week.

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