05/12/2020

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Fashion designer Kenzo Takada dies from COVID-19 at 81

JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images

The fashion world is mourning the loss of Kenzo Takada, founder of the luxury Kenzo Global Brand, who died due to complications from coronavirus at the American Hospital of Paris on Sunday. He was 81.

The news was confirmed by Kenzo’s creative director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who tributed Takada with a special dedication via Instagram.

“FAREWELL MASTER,” Oliveira Baptista captioned a four-photo post on Sunday. “It is with great sadness that I have learned the passing away of Mr. Kenzo Takada. His amazing energy, kindness, talent, and smile were contagious. His kindred spirit will live forever.”

Oliveira Baptista joined the Kenzo team in July of 2019, making his brand debut at Paris Fashion Week in February amidst growing shutdowns due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus. At the time, he spoke about how Takada, who founded Kenzo in the 1970s, inspired his own collection.

“My vision for the brand is very much rooted in what Kenzo did and stood for — values that are still very relevant today,” he told T: The New York Times Style Magazine. “His designs were all about freedom of movement. While they were flamboyant, they were also very pragmatic.”

Takada was a renowned Japanese-French designer who discovered his love for fashion at an early age. But it would be years before he’d follow his dreams to Paris, where he struggled at first but eventually found his way. By the 1970s, he’d made his Paris debut with his eponymous collection featuring the trademark mix of patterns and loud colors he was famous for.

The Kenzo brand was sold to LVMH in 1993 but not before Takada could create both high fashion and affordable options for women, men, and children. His success would expand beyond fashion, with perfume options for women and men, as well as a skincare line. He announced his retirement from Kenzo in 1999 to become an artist, but he returned to designing home goods including furniture and tableware.

In January, Takada announced the launch of home and lifestyle brand K3 with a focus on interior design. The celebrated designer leaves behind a legacy of 50 years of passion and vibrancy, both on and off the runway

“Our ideal interior is one of comfort which tempts you to stay inside,” Kenzo told Asia Times about his new venture. “I like something that is soft and poetic, not aggressive. I like dreaming.”

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