The fashion world is in mourning after the death of famed fashion designer Kenzo Takada.
Takada, who died at the age of 81 on Oct. 4 due to coronavirus-related complications, had a profound impact on the worlds of fashion, fragrance and homeware.
His more than 50-year career was full of milestones and accomplishments that paved the way for generations after him. Takada was admired by almost all of his fellow designers throughout his career, including by the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Giambattista Valli and Karl Lagerfeld, among others.
Here, WWD looks at seven facts about the revolutionary designer. Read on for more.
1. He Was One of Bunka College’s First Male Students
Takada first got into fashion by looking through magazines and watching TV, which influenced his dream of moving to Paris or New York. He later attended Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College as one of the institute’s first male students. On the side, Takada painted the interiors of houses to make money.
2. The Olympic Committee Paid Him to Leave His Home
The Olympic Committee paid Takada to leave his home ahead of the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Using that money coupled with the wages he earned painting homes, Takada traveled to Paris via ship, traveling through China, India and Africa.
This was the first time Takada had traveled, and the experience left a lasting impression on the designer by influencing him to have a multicultural view of the world and of fashion.
3. He Was a Founding Member of French Fashion’s Governing Body
Three years after presenting his first collection in Paris in 1970, Takada was one of the founding members of the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, du Prêt-à-porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode, which is one of the three pillars behind what constitutes today’s French fashion’s governing body.
4. He Was the First Designer to Put Inès de la Fressange on the Runway
French model Inès de la Fressange got her first break thanks to Takada, who was the first designer to put her on the runway. The model went on to become one of the biggest models of her time, signing the first exclusive modeling contract with Chanel in 1983 and serving as one of Karl Lagerfeld’s many muses.
“I was horribly shy, and people found me strange,” de la Fressange told WWD about Takada. “He was very shy, too, a bit like Saint Laurent, and he took me on straight away for my very first fashion show. We’ve forgotten today that haute couture labels, with the exception of Yves Saint Laurent, didn’t interest anyone at the end of the Seventies. People would fight to get into a Kenzo show. It was the most glamorous show you could do at the time, because not only was he the first to show with lots of models, he was the first to put celebrities on the runway.”
5. He Designed a Perfume Bottle Based on a Pebble
Takada visited fragrance bottle designer Serge Mansau with the new Kenzo Parfums founding president, Pierre Broc, in 1986. During the meeting, Takada picked up a smooth rock from Mansau’s desk and proclaimed, “I like pebbles.”
The two began sketching fragrance bottles based on the rock for about an hour until Takada made another announcement, “I also like flowers.”
Mansau then picked up a plastic flower, snapped off the blossom and stuck it on top of the pebble with a piece of chewing gum. That prototype later went on to be the fragrance bottle for the Kenzo Par Kenzo scent.
6. He Was a Prominent Figure in Homeware
After establishing himself in the fashion world, Takada took his eye for design over to the homeware category with the launch of the Gokan Kobo lifestyle brand in 2002. The brand later changed its name to Takada by Kenzo and ultimately shuttered in 2007.
Almost 50 years after establishing his Kenzo fashion brand, Takada launched K3, a luxury homeware and lifestyle brand in January.
7. His Proudest Accomplishment Is His Name Survived for So Many Years
In a prior interview with WWD, Takada admitted that the proudest accomplishment of his career was that his name survived “across so many years.”
“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.”
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