Aiming to become one of the first male students at Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College he quit Kobe University, to parent’s disillusion. In 1960, he was awarded the most significant prize in Japanese fashion trade – the “Soen”.
In 1964, Takada moved to Paris – the city where “all is harmony” – to start from the very bottom of the fashion industry ladder. At the first opportunity, Kenzo won the ELLE magazine contest and became the chief designer of the Bon Magique brand. Ever since the door of success to the Paris fashion stage was open to Japanese designer – he made enough contacts and, working as a freelance designer, sold some of his earliest work to Feraud. The flagship Kenzo boutique ‘Jungle Jap’ was opened in 1970. The year of 1970 also presents to the fashion world the first successful Japanese collection: made of Japanese cottons and remnants bought in the Saint-Pierre fabric market at the foot of Montmartre in Paris. Traditional Japanese styles heavily influenced first Takada’s work, but it was his ‘big silhouette’ designs which drew worldwide attention and made him an avowed trendsetter.
Exploring the world’s richly diverse cultures, Kenzo creates exotic and fun clothes, tuning ethnic elements to utterly modern. The guiding motifs of Kenzo designs are color and flowers, the kimono and simple shapes, tradition and folklore. His works combined incompatible things: men’s clothing was a hybrid of Western tailoring and Eastern sarongs, while women’s wear combined Japanese cuts with Slavic embroidery.
In 1993, Kenzo House became a part of the luxury-goods empire, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Möet Hennessey), and the designer has now passed responsibility for his label to Rosier (women’s wear) and Roy Kejberg (men’s wear). In 1999, after thirty years in fashion the designer left his brand. At the age of sixty five Kenzo launched a line of scarves under the label Gokan Kobo.
Takada Kenzo’s colorful visions, simple cuts combined with a bold palette, ethnic influences, floral patterns and a pinch of fantasy ensure his place in the fashion pantheon for good.