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Funeral service is held for Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada

Pioneering Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada is laid to rest at Paris funeral after his death at the age of 81 from coronavirus

  • Kenzo Takada, 81, died at the American hospital of Paris, in Neuilly-sur-Seine
  • He is known worldwide as Kenzo, a name which he shares with his fashion brand
  • Spokesman confirmed that he died from coronavirus while in hospital last week 

A memorial service was held today for the Japanese fashion designer who founded Kenzo and died from coronavirus last week in a hospital near Paris. 

Mourners gathered at the Pere Lachaise cemetery this afternoon to pay their respects to Kenzo Takada, 81, who died at the American hospital of Paris in Neuilly-sur-Seine last week from coronavirus. 

A Shinto priest performed rituals at the service, which was attended by relatives and friends, including French lingerie designer Chantal Thomass and male model Satya Oblet.        

Pallbearers carry the coffin of late Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada to a funeral chapel of the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France today 

People lay flowers to pay their respects to late Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada at a funeral chapel of the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France today 

A Shinto priest performs rituals at the coffin of late Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada at a funeral chapel of the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, France today 

The self-made Japanese and French designer is known worldwide under his first name Kenzo, which he shared with his fashion brand famed for colourful and eccentric designs.  

His death comes just four days after the brand showed its spring/summer 2021 collection at Paris Fashion Week. 

Despite leaving the brand in 1999 to enjoy a ‘permanent holiday’ of retirement, Kenzo was still involved in maintaining the brand’s seamless mix of traditional Japanese fashion and modern western style that it is famed for.     

French lingerie designer Chantal Thomass (L) arrives to attend a tribute ceremony for late Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada today at the Pere Lachaise cemetary in Paris

French model Satya Oblet (R) arrives to a ceremony for late Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada at a funeral chapel of the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris today

The coffin of late Japanese fashion designer Kenzo Takada is surrounded with flowers, candles and a portrait of him before a tribute ceremony today at the Pere Lachaise cemetary in Paris

Kenzo, who was born on February 27, 1939, in Himeji, Japan, to hoteliers, developed his love for fashion at a young age while reading his sisters’ magazines.

After becoming one of the first male students to study at Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo he travelled to Paris for the first time in 1965 at the age of 26 to become a freelance designer.

He had only intended to stay in Paris for a few months before returning to Japan, but became determined to create a brand for himself as a designer.

Five years later, in the spring of 1970, Kenso used just $200 worth of fabric to create his first fashion collection which was mostly cotton to keep costs down.

Kenzo Takada, 81, died from coronavirus in a hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, last week


The Japanese-French designer is known worldwide under his first name Kenzo and his fashion brand is famed for its colourful and quirky designs

The same year he took over a Paris boutique and had his clothing featured on the front cover of Elle magazine.


A spokesman for the fashion star, who was 81, confirmed the sad news, according to RT

Kenzo opened his flagship store, Kenzo, in the Place des Victoires in October 1976. Pictured: A Kenzo catwalk at his autumn/winter 1986-1987 show 

As his fashion brand began to steadily grow as more and more people were exposed to it, Kenzo also delved into the perfume world. Pictured: Kenzo’s spring/summer 2019 fashion show

Kenzo releases butterflies during the birthday cake illumintion during the Kenzo Takada Birthday Party as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2019/2020

Japanese fashion designer Kenzo salutes the audience at the end of his’s ready-to-wear autumn/winter 1998/99

Two fashion models wear a haute couture dress and a matador’s bullfighting uniform by Japanese fashion designer Kenzo in 1983

Kenzo opened his flagship store, Kenzo, in the Place des Victoires in October 1976 and was awarded the Fashion Editor Club of Japan’s prize.

He then continued to make a name for himself by holding his fashion shows in circus tents between 1978 and 1979. 

The talented designer, whose designs often featured animal motives, famously ended the shows by riding onto the catwalk on an elephant.

As his fashion brand steadily grew in 1988 Kenzo delved into the perfume world, with scents that went on to be named some of the most ‘classic’ French fragrances of all time by Vogue.

Kenzo pictured at his autumn/winter 1991-1992 fashion show in Paris 

Kenzo signs one of his paintings during the opening of an exhibition of his work at art auction house Hampel in Munich in 2008


Pictured: The Kenzo collection at Paris Fashion Week earlier this year

Since 1993 the brand Kenzo has been owned by the French luxury goods company LMVH which also owns brands such as Fendi, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs. 

He announced his retirement from fashion in 1999 to pursue a career in art, leaving designers Roy Krejberg and Gilles Rosier to handle the design of Kenzo’s men’s and women’s clothing.  

Kenzo had previously written of his ‘misery’ following the 90s, a decade in which he lost his life partner Xavier de Castella to an aids related illness in 1990, and his ‘right hand’ pattern maker Atsuko Kondo in 1991 to a stroke. 

This was swiftly followed by the death of his mother in 1991, which he failed to learn of until after her funeral as he was chartering a boat on the island of Corsica – despite his older brother’s efforts to contact him.

He wrote in Nikkei Asia: ‘I had missed my own mother’s death because I was off playing. I was miserable. My heart was in tatters and I gave myself up to despair.’  

Kenzo was awarded a Legion of Honour (the highest order of merit for military and/or civil merits) in 2016. And he was then given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 55th Fashion Editors’ Club of Japan Awards in 2017.

He occasionally ventured back into the fashion world such as when he designed the costumes for Madame Butterfly in 2019.  

In 2019, Takada discussed his departure from fashion design, telling CNN that he still sketches, but no longer for luxury fashion.

‘I’m still sketching, but not for fashion today. I like fashion, but in fashion you must do something new every season: new shootings, new concepts, new materials, every single thing changes so quickly,’ he said. ‘So I stopped at the right time, I think. Now I do costumes for opera.’

He added: ‘Paris for me, I definitely saw it as the capital of fashion and today there’s still that certain elegance, French elegance, a French way of dressing,’ he told the outlet.

‘A French way of working with fashion definitely influenced me and much later I started to blend other cultures into that specific fashion. Of course now, fashion is everywhere; in New York, Paris, Milan, London, Tokyo, everywhere. But I think Paris stays very important.’

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