Goodbye to Kenzo, the most Parisian of Japanese designers

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He died at 81, from coronavirus. The world of fashion, in mourning: a creator left that combined magic, aesthetics, a wide palette of colors, poetry and originality. A journey through his life and his talent.

Kenzo died, the first great Japanese of fashion in Paris, at 81 years old, with the virus of the 21st century. A statement from the American Hospital announced his death, on Sunday afternoon, from coronavirus. The most Parisian of the Japanese, who had given his fashion house to the billionaire group LVMH six years ago, will be greatly missed in Bastille, his neighborhood, where he visited bars, restaurants and had a friendly dialogue with all the neighbors, in the Alligre market.

Kenzo Takada said goodbye with a great show at the Zenith, before 4000 people who were moved, in a show that brought together fashion with musicians, dancers, animals, in a multi-ethnic background. Since then he dedicated himself to decoration, design and painting.

In 2009 he sold his 1,000 meter Japanese house in Bastille and dispersed his heterogeneous art collection.

On the catwalk Inés de la Fressange, the French model with an Argentine mother who was Kenzo’s favorite, Katoucha Noaie, and celebrities, such as Julien Clerc, and all her collaborators paraded or they danced to the sound of tam tam, gypsy music or the accordion.

Magic, poetry, aesthetics, originality, joy and good humor. They are the values ​​that marked Kenzo’s life as creator. With his black hair, his now-gray white highlight, a dark suit, white shirt, and yellow tie, Kenzo bowed to his audience and friends to say goodbye.

He had given the name to the great group of Arnault, when his house was already 30 years old. Since then he had dedicated himself to specific custom designs.

He had reached the port of Marseilles by boat. Fifth child of a family of seven children, was born on February 27, 1939 in Himeji, the Japanese city of feudal past. She came from a family of Japanese merchants. He became interested in fashion in his childhood, when they taught their sisters sewing.

Upon graduation, he left on his first trip to Europe, where he arrived a month and a half later, through the port of Marseille. Upon his arrival in Paris, he sold his designs to Louis Feraud and Jacques Delahaye before landing a stylist position at Renoma, a very famous fashion house in the French capital in 1974.

Kenzo was looking for his freedom. He opened his first boutique at Galerie Vivienne, with jungle designs inspired by Rousseau, which he christened “Jungle Jap”. There was her first parade ready to porter, where kimonos were mixed with high skirts and colorful tops.

Thus was born his fashion, with a nod to his Japanese roots and western references that delighted Paris. Its flowery patterns, with vegetables and flowers, strong colors, folk images. Boutiques were multiplying from St Tropez to rue Cherche Midi and place des Victoires in Paris.

In 1971, the North American edition of Vogue became interested in his work. Kenzo expands, diversifies its brand, incorporates men’s fashion and perfumery.

“Since my departure from Japan in 1964, I thought that my time in France would not be more than six months. I’m happy that it didn’t end fifty years later “, Kenzo Takada acknowledged in 2016 to France Info.

He was an esthete and loved to have fun. In 1990 he installed 30,000 begonia plants on the Pont Neuf in Paris to celebrate the arrival of summer. Thus he builds the reputation of his happy, cheerful fashion.

He was the first to use his friends as models: Grace Jones, Jaime Santiago and Guy Cuevas They took to the catwalks as their models.

His performances, including one accompanied by two elephants, make him a celebrity of the Parisian night. Le Palace, the temple of the night in Paris in the ’70s and’ 80s, has it as usual. With his partner and right arm, Xavier de Castella, who introduced him to Karl Lagerfeld, they organize absolutely memorable parties and shows. One was one night “Cartoon”, where He showed up dressed as Minnie Mouse.

But the arrival of AIDS, the death of his partner Xavier de Castella and the stroke of Atsuko, his partner, put an end to this period. He abandons fashion and begins to slowly disappear from the scene and the night.


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