Fashion Flashback: Kenzo Takada

Image courtesy of rochebobois.com

Before Kenzo Takada, luxury fashion was mostly about French, Italian, British, and a few American luxury brands. Kenzo Takada changes all that, bringing a much-needed exuberance to Paris fashion, evidenced in his bold prints and floral designs. Kenzo’s East meets West design aesthetic set a standard for fashion brands looking to the Far East for inspiration and helped stimulate European designers’ taste for Asian design fusion aesthetics.

KENZO campaigns

Born in Himeji, near the city of Osaka, Japan, Kenzo came to Paris in 1965 to have a career in fashion, hardly speaking a word of English. In order to survive in this brave new world, Kenzo sold sketches to fashion houses. He later struck out on his own and opened a small boutique, Jungle Jap, with garments that were inspired by his Japanese heritage.

“I decorated the shop myself with little money,” Takada told the South China Morning Post newspaper recently, in what was one of his last media interviews. “One of the first paintings I saw in Paris and fell in love with was a jungle painting … and that was the inspiration for the shop.”

Images courtesy of pinterest.com, wwd.com, and wallstreetjournal.com

“His native Japan remained [the] source of inspiration for every collection he did. He kept the use of vibrant colours and volumes present at all times,” said Circe Henestrosa, head of the school of fashion at Singapore’s Lasalle College of the Arts.

“I think he was ahead of his time and was one of the first designers to experiment with the idea of genderless fashion. He would never conform to the stereotypical idea of masculine and feminine fashion,” said  Henestrosa.

Referring to his initial fashion line as Jungle Jap, was as a pejorative and later Kenzo gave his fashion line the eponymous first name KENZO. “I knew it had a pejorative meaning, “Kenzo told the New York Times in a 1972 interview. “But I thought if I did something good, I would change the meaning.”

KENZO in the 1980s

Kenzo later became a very popular ready-to-wear line in Paris with a menswear spinoff in 1983, and later fragrances, eyewear, and a jeans line. At the height the brand’s popularity, Kenzo sold the company to LVMH in the 1990s. “The hardest year of my life was 1990, when my life partner Xavier died and my business partner had a stroke,” he told SCMP. “That’s why I sold the company to LVMH [in 1993]. I felt I couldn’t do it on my own.”

Kenzo retired from his company in 1999; however, he continued to design costumes for operas. His clothing brand Kenzo had a terrific collaboration with fast fashion mega clothing company H&M in 2016, selling out the entire KENZO x H&M collection within days.

Image courtesy of japanforward.com

“What I am most proud of is I opened the roads for much younger people from around the world,” Kenzo said in a WWD article, “who probably think they can be a hit in fashion in Paris or London. They can come and try to do that.”

Kenzo died from complications due to COVID-19 on October 4, five days after his eponymous brand showed in Paris. Kenzo Takada was 81 years old.

—William S. Gooch

Comments

  1. Sincerely-ty-Is it ok to add to this?

  2. This is relevant for myfriends on FB-love this!

Speak Your Mind

*

Copyright © 2012-2020 | Fashion Reverie Publications, LLC - All Rights Reserved