Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, famous for creating the international luxury fashion house Kenzo, died on Sunday after contracting Covid-19. His family said in a statement that Takada died from complications from the virus in a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris. He was 81.
“It is with immense sadness that KENZO has learned of the passing of our founder,” the fashion house 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.”
Known for his bright graphics, jungle inspired prints and eclectic use of colour, he was the first Japanese designer to gain prominence on the Paris fashion scene. He settled in France in the 1960s and spent the rest of his career there.
Although Takada had been retired from his house since 1999 to pursue a career in art, Kenzo remains one of the most respected fixtures of the high Paris fashion. His love of travel and use of ethnic influences were strong features in his three decades as creative director of the house. Since 1993, the brand has been owned owned by the French luxury goods company LVMH.
“Kenzo Takada has, from the 1970s, infused into fashion a tone of poetic lightness and sweet freedom which inspired many designers after him,” said Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH.
Tributes have poured in from all across the world for the designer. The artistic director of Kenzo, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who showed his second collection for the brand on October 1 at Paris Fashion Week, said: “His amazing energy, kindness, talent and smile were contagious. His kindred spirit will live forever.”
Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo paid tribute to him on Twitter. She described Takada as a “designer of immense talent, he had given colour and light their place in fashion. Paris is now mourning one of its sons.”
On her Instagram account, supermodel Naomi Campbell wrote: “So sad to hear of your loss today … will always remember your smile and humble demeanour … and positivity you shined on us all. “Rest with the angels.”