Kenzo: A fashion journey from Japan to Paris

Intended to go to Paris for six months, but Kenzo Takada spent 56 years of his life here devoted to fashion.

On October 5, Japanese-French designer Kenzo Takada passed away because of Covid-19, after the brand’s Spring Summer show 2021 at Paris Fashion Week ended. On Instagram, brand representative Kenzo posted a photo of him with the note: For half a century, Takada has been a typical figure in the fashion industry. He always infuses creativity and color into the world.

Kenzo Takada was born on February 27, 1939, is one of seven children in a middle-class family in Himeji, Japan. Takada became interested in design while reading her sister’s fashion magazine. Initially, he studied Literature at Kobe University due to his parents opposed to fashion. However, after that, he dropped out of school, applied to the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, becoming one of the first male students. In 1960, he won an award given by Soen, a famous Japanese fashion magazine. He started his career designing girls’ clothes for the Sanai department store.

The turning point of Takada’s life came when the authorities prepared the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and they leveled the apartment where he lived and compensated 10 months rent. Takada decided to use that money to go abroad. He sailed to Paris by ship, from the port city of Yokohama (Japan) to Marseille (France), it took nearly two months.

Arriving in Paris on cold winter days, Takada had many difficulties. Without money, he lives in a small room for 9 francs a day, sharing a bathroom.

Despite studying design and working for a fashion store in Tokyo, Takada never thought of becoming a designer in the fashion capital of the world. He didn’t feel good enough to succeed in Paris. Initially, he sold sketches to designers like Louis Feraud. In 1970, he established himself a store in the Galerie Vivienne amusement park. Inspired by the jungle paintings by Henri Rousseau, Takada painted the wall full of wild flowers and named the store Jungle Jap.