It’s a heartbreaking day in fashion as one of Japan’s most famous fashion designers Kenzo Takada dies of COVID 19.
Takada was the first Japanese designer to gain popularity in the Paris fashion scene in the 1970s after arriving in the country in 1965. Following exactly 50 years of staying in the country he made his home, Takada passed away in the American Hospital of Paris on Sunday. He was 81.
Takada’s global brand Kenzo, which he established in 1970 was deemed one of the most important brands by the end of the year. His influence in the Paris fashion scene with his “blend of ethnicity and exoticism” left an impact on the generations years after his first debut—as he opened the door to viewing fashion as something creative and fun, rather than just a “status symbol.” Along with his vibrant designs of the signature jungle and floral aesthetic of Kenzo, LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton) chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault notes Takada as having “infused into fashion a tone of poetic lightness and sweet freedom which inspired many designers after him.”
At the time of his passing, Takada’s passion for Asian fashion transcended beyond his own brand, as he was acting as the honorary president for the Asian Couture Federation, which aimed to support and promote couture talent within Asia and around the world.
We remember Takada today for his bright and spirited personality that manifested in the pieces he designed throughout his life, reminding us not to take things too seriously and to find the fun in creating what you love. After all, if you’re not happy then what’s the point?
People who worked closely with Takada remember his legacy of happiness towards life and fashion fondly, such as fashion critic Suzy Menkes who noted, “I remember him…telling me that he wanted to make ‘happy’ clothes,” as well as model Naomi Campbell, who expressed her love and grief for his loss in an Instagram post.