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PORTRAIT OF A DESIGNER Kenzō Takada falls victim to the health crisis

Paris-based Japanese designer Kenzo Takada has succumbed to Covid-19. He was 81. He died at the American Hospital in Paris on Sunday, Oct. 4.

Made a knight of the Legion of Honor in 2016, the Osaka-born genius was described as a “designer of immense talent” by Anne Hidalgo, mayor of Paris, who added in a Twitter post that the designer “had given color and light their place in fashion. Paris is now mourning the passing one of its sons.”

Takada was the first Japanese designer to rise to international fame in Paris, where he moved shortly after arriving in Marseille, following a long journey from Yokohama on what he called a slow boat The Cambodia that steamed out of the Pacific in 1965 to make the long trip via Hong Kong, Vietnam, and India.

Fashion designers naturally feel drawn to Paris.

Kenzō Takada

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FASHION AND ARTS Kenzo Takada and Andy Warhol in the ‘70s

Little did he know that it was a trip to his destiny and that the six-month visit he originally planned to Paris would turn out to be the rest of his life.

Inspired by the Parisian designer Yves Saint-Laurent, Takada would establish his eponymous fashion label Kenzo in the 1970s, to which he introduced a men’s line in 1983, diversifying later in the decade into casual wear with the introduction of Kenzo Jeans.

He sold his fashion house to Bernard Arnault‘s luxury group LVMH in the mid-1990s and bowed out of the fashion industry in 1999 to dedicate himself purely to artistic pursuits, such as costume design for the production of Madame Butterfly mounted by the Tokyo Nikikai Opera Foundation last year.

Early this year, Takada launched K3, an interior design brand.

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