The French fashion community mourned the passing of designer Kenzo Takada, who died of coronavirus this weekend, with an outpouring of grief, marks of respect, and multiple homages on social media. Kenzo passed away in the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine on Sunday morning. He was aged 81.
One of the most popular designers in Paris, Kenzo, as he was universally called, was known for his ready smile, vibrant sense of color, obsession with flowers, unique joie de vivre and love of a great party.“With its inventive cuts, multicultural inspirations and exotic prints, Kenzo has undeniably contributed to (the writing of) a new page in fashion, at the confluence of the East and the West,” said Ralph Toledano, Président de la Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, French fashion’s governing body.
“The Federation pays tribute to Kenzo Takada... A major figure of international fashion in Paris, he will remain forever associated with the history of the Federation.
Kenzo Takada presented his first collection in 1970. He was one of very first to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, du Prêt-à-porter du Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, created in 1973, one of the three components of what today constitutes (our) Federation,” the French fashion federation noted.
A quarter-century after founding his own house, Kenzo sold his business to LVMH, the giant French luxury conglomerate, which retains 100% control today.
“Kenzo Takada has, from the 1970s, infused into fashion a tone of poetic lightness and sweet freedom which inspired many designers after him. In this fresh and spontaneous spirit, he also durably renewed the world of perfume. The House he had established, Kenzo, still explores his vision. I’m very sad to learn about his passing and express my sincerest sympathy to his family and friends," said Bernard Arnault, chairman, and CEO of LVMH.
His latest successor at the house he founded, designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista, posted an early image on his Instagram account of Kenzo sitting on a huge TV, along with the phrase: “Rest in peace Master.”
“It is with great sadness that I have learned of the passing away of Mr. Kenzo Takada. His amazing energy, kindness, and talent were contagious. His kindred spirit will live forever,” added Oliveira Baptista.
While the house’s CEO said in a statement: “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.”
Fellow designers were equally effusive. Jean Charles de Castelbajac posted a photo of the glory days of legendary nightclub Le Palace from 1983, a group shot of Kenzo, surrounded by de Castelbajac, Sonia Rykiel, Sylvie Grumbach, Grace Jones, and Paloma Picasso.
“I can never think of Kenzo without thinking of a party, even on this sad day,” wrote de Castelbajac, summing up a general feeling, given Kenzo’s special attachment to parties.
Reacting to the designer’s passing, former Kenzo CEO Richard Simonin, told FashionNetwork.com: “Over 30 years ago, Kenzo introduced me to a new universe that I never knew anything about. This meeting set me up for a career I never could have imagined. His creative talent was immense, his interpersonal skills too. He naturally and constantly spread the joy of life to all those around him. I quickly learned from him that the only secret to a fruitful and successful Creator-Manager relationship was deep mutual respect. Twelve years of collaboration and then 20 years of unfailing friendship, it is simply unique and unforgettable. Thank you for everything, dear Kenzo. 'The World is Beautiful,' you said. Unfortunately, it is less since you left us.”
While his old pal, former Minister of Culture, Jack Lang wrote: “Kenzo, the designer who made fashion dance! He was the most Parisian of Japanese designers and I loved and admired him deeply. For more than 50 years, Kenzo never ceased to enchant French fashion and the art of living. He was a rainbow creator. His multicultural universe was joyful and colorful like a heavenly jungle. Affable and always smiling, Kenzo had an overflowing, luxuriant imagination. He was a big child with assumed naivety, he designed his fashion while having fun… He will remain an inspiring legend, a marvelous poet of fabrics and colors.”