Sad news for the global fashion community. Kenzo founder Kenzō Takada passed away today (October 4, 2020) in the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France at age 81 from COVID-19 related complications.
The news was announced on his Instagram feed with a caption reading: “It is with great sadness that we have learned that our dear friend Kenzo Takada passed away today. He was an inspiring and prodigious creator and we were proud to collaborate with him. We will always remember his smile and joie de vivre. The fashion, design world and all of us are mourning him tonight and extend our sincere condolences to his loved ones.”
Kenzo creative director Felipe Oliveir Baptista also weighed in on Instagram where he wrote, “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.”
Born in Osaka, Japan Takada first traveled to Paris by boat in 1965 and launched his brand as Jungle Jap in 1970. Following a considerable amount of controversy, including a battle that ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1972 he chose to change the name of the label to Kenzo.
Commenting on that decision in an interview with Schon! in February 2019, Takada explained, “In 1972, after the fashion show at Macy’s in New York. Japanese people were protesting outside the show against the use of the word Jap in Jungle Jap.
In France, Jap did not have a negative connotation; I initially chose the name Jungle Jap as a reflection of my heritage. When I was younger, I was told that a Japanese man like me would not succeed in the French fashion industry. Yet, I was determined to prove them wrong, so I wanted to add the word Jap in reference to Japan in the brand’s name. So when I came back to France, the team decided to rename the brand Kenzo.”
Takada sold the label to LVMH in 1993, and retired six years later. In January of of this year, he launched K-3, a home and lifestyle brand. The brand is now led by designer Baptista, who was appointed creative director when designers Humberto Leon and Carol Lim stepped down last year.
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It is with great sadness that we have learned that our dear friend Kenzo Takada passed away today. He was an inspiring and prodigious creator and we were proud to collaborate with him. We will always remember his smile and joie de vivre. The fashion, design world and all of us are mourning him tonight and extend our sincere condolences to his loved ones. Kenzo Takada nous a quitté ce jour. Il était un homme formidable et un créateur inspirant. Nous étions fiers de collaborer avec lui. Les mondes de la mode et de la décoration sont en deuil ce soir. Nous garderons en mémoire son sourire et sa joie de vivre communicative.