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 a 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.
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.