“His first fashion shows were memorable,” said Gabet. “Light and playful, with models that are more dancing and walking than presentation of clothes, far from the hierarchical vision of French couture.”
Known for his sense of fun, Mr. Takada – who disliked being known as a “Japanese designer” since he initially considered himself a “fashion designer” – put on shows in a circus tent. , and with himself riding an elephant. They were “legendary and the toughest ticket in town,” said Gene Pressman, former co-CEO of Barneys. “He was a cult figure for young people and young people.”
Mr. Takada introduced men’s clothing in 1983, a line of jeans in 1986 and perfume in 1988, but in 1993 struggling after the death of his life partner and business partner had a stroke, Mr. Takada decided to sell his business to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French fashion conglomerate, for around $ 80 million. Although he initially remained as a designer, by 1999 he had had enough and decided to move away from fashion, with its increasingly frenetic pace and business demands.
“Everything has changed, from the way we make clothes to the way information spreads and how many seasons there are now,” he told the South China Morning Post.
Although Kenzo, the brand, continued under a series of different designers – including the team of Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, who brought back the pioneer tiger from Mr. Takada, and the current artistic director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista – Kenzo, the man, explored other creative avenues.
He designed costumes for the opera, created the Japanese Olympic uniforms in 2004, painted and created a new collection of household items. He opened his archives for a coffee table tome of his work published in February 2019, “Kenzo Takada”, combining sketches, newspaper extracts, letters and photographs.