To the list of those souls lost to COVID-19, add the name of the pioneering fashion designer Kenzo Takada, who died this month at a Paris hospital at the age of 81. Takada — whose fashion company was known by his first name, Kenzo — helped bring Japanese fashion to the world, paving the way for many later Japanese designers. Takada, who was one of the first men to attend Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, arrived in Paris in 1964. Initially planning a short stay, he ended up spending the rest of his life there, opening his first store in 1970 and presenting playful, exuberant fashion shows until the 1990s; later, he designed for opera and presented a homewares collection. Here, he’s seen as a young man with Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida in 1977 (she had just awarded him the title of one of the 10 most elegant men in the world), and in Tokyo last year.
Takada once said, in an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, that his proudest accomplishment was the longevity of his career and the inspiration it provided. “What I am most proud of is I opened the roads for much younger people from around the world,” he said, “who probably think they can be a hit in fashion in Paris or London. They can come and try to do that.”