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Japanese Designer, Kenzō Takada Dies of COVID-19

Kenzō Takada's family said in a statement to French media Sunday that Takada died from complications from COVID-19 in a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris.

Credit: Joel Saget/AFP via Getty Images

Kenzō Takada (高田 賢三, Takada Kenzō; 27 February 1939 – 4 October 2020) was a Japanese fashion designer living in France. He founded Kenzo, a worldwide brand of perfumes, skincare products, and clothes, and was the honorary president of the Asian Couture Federation. Takada was born on 27 February 1939 in Himeji, Hyōgo Prefecture. He was one of seven children of Kenji and Shizu Takada, who ran a hotel. His love for fashion developed at an early age, particularly through reading his sisters' magazines. He briefly attended Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, but after his father died during Takada's first year at university, he withdrew from the program against his family's wishes. In 1958, he enrolled at Tokyo's Bunka Fashion College, which had then just opened its doors to male students. During his time at Bunka, Takada won a fashion design competition, the Soen Award, in 1961. At this time, Takada gained experience working in the Sanai department store, where he designed up to 40 outfits a month as a girl's clothing designer. Takada was inspired by Paris, especially designer Yves Saint Laurent. His interest in Paris was further fostered by his teacher at Bunka, Chie Koike, who was educated at L'École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. In preparation for the 1964 Summer Olympics, the government demolished Takada's apartment in 1964, providing him with some monetary compensation. Under the advice of his mentor, and using his compensation money, Takada went on a month-long trip by boat to Paris, stopping along the way at various cities like Hong Kong, Saigon, Mumbai, and Marseille. He ultimately arrived at the Gare de Lyon train station on 1 January 1965. Takada's first impression of Paris was that it was "dismal and bleak", but began to warm to the city when his taxi took him past the Notre Dame de Paris, which he described as "magnificent". Takada died on 4 October 2020 from complications of COVID-19 while hospitalized at the American Hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine. He was 81 years old.


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