Paris, Milan, London and New York pride themselves as the best cities when it comes to fashion, all for a reason. They are regarded as the global “Big Four” which continuously influence the world in trends, styles and fashion inspirations ever since. They have assumed key positions in the global scene in terms of clothing and designs and have consistently produced iconic fashion designers since the beginning of time.
Some of the most sought-after brands, nowadays, usually come from these ‘Big Four’—Off-White, Vetements, and Raf Simons are some of those that instantly made their way to the fashion scene since their conception. But there is this one brand that was able to incorporate both Western and Asian styles and aesthetics into its products and clothing lines: Kenzo.
Kenzo Takada, a Japanese designer known for fusing Asian and Japanese designs in his pieces founded the brand in 1970. But even though it is under a Japanese designer, it has established its brand name in France where it opened its first fashion house. But how come this Japanese designer was able to make his name in Europe and be inspired with Asian and Japanese influences at the same time?
Kenzo Red Black and White Shoulder Bag spotted before Emporio Armani fashion show. andersphoto
Best Places to Shop for Kenzo
Kenzo Takada’s journey
Kenzo Takada. Credit: Victor Boyko/Getty Images
Kenzo has developed interest in fashion at a very young age. He was inspired by fashion magazines he sees from his sister and drew motivation from there. However, instead of getting a fashion designing degree, he was initially enrolled in University of Kobe where he studied literature. His love for fashion never stopped and left the university to study fashion at Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College.
Formally trained in Japan, Kenzo moved to Paris in 1964. He started his fashion career in different department stores in Paris and eventually opened Jungle Jap. Through this boutique, he was able to create his own styles and designs which attracts attention and interest among the Westerners. During his entire fashion career, he was able to incorporate freedom and creativity to his designs. His modern take in dressing exudes exuberance, eclecticism and idiosyncratic styles. Aside from these, he was able to combine youthfulness, enthusiasm and colours to his collections.
Kenzo brand: popularity and expansion
The brand caught the attention of Vogue in 1971 where it featured his designs of oversized dungarees, enlarged armholes, shoulder shapes and smock tent dresses. These collections were regarded as innovation to the standard designs found in Paris fashion houses at that time. His designs increased in popularity when it launched its iconic tiger clothing, a piece which several celebrities like Rihanna, Beyoncé and Selena Gomez love to sport nowadays.
The brand grew its line and started producing fragrances for both men and women in 1988. The FlowerbyKenzo in 2000 became the standard bearer of the Kenzo perfume collection. The success of the perfume label, made the brand opened its own skincare line in 2001.
Kenzo bag spotted at Milan Fashion Week. Shutterstock.com
Kenzo black fabric shoes before Max Mara fashion show. andersphoto
A series of widely-acclaimed Creative Directors
Kenzo Takada, the founder, was successful in establishing its brand in 1970. His hardwork and dedication to his craft made Kenzo to be the brand it is now today. However, his retirement in 1999, introduced new and talented designers that continuously build its name to greater heights. In 2008, an Italian designer, Antonio Marras was named creative designer and further expanded the Kenzo brand by introducing Gokan Kobo (tablewar, home objects and furniture). Thereafter, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim succeeded Marras as creative director. Their fashion expertise and superior taste contributed a fresher and youthful vibe to Kenzo’s collection while preserving the true spirit of Kenzo brand as founded by Takada.
There are various innovative ways that Kenzo contributed to the West, including garish and clashing prints and shades, bolder approach to fashion are now immensely celebrated by fashion enthusiasts in various parts of the world. The contribution of the creative directors undeniably pushed the brand towards greater heights, making it stand alongside the most sought after labels today.
Kenzo Boutique in Milan, Italy.