Kenzo

French griffe of prêt-à-porter created in 1970. It takes its name from its founder, the Japanese designer Kenzo Takada (Hyogo, 1939). The fifth of seven children, he would have liked to study styling, but his parents enrolled him in the English Literature courses at university. He stayed just 3 months at Gaibo College in Kobe, before leaving for Tokyo in 1958 where he entered the Bunka Gakuen, the prestigious school of fashion design. In the third year of studying he won first prize. After a period of work for a chain of department stores, he left Japan for Paris. He arrived in France in 1965, saw the shows of the great names of fashion, like Cardin, Dior, and Chanel, and sold some sketches to Louis Feraud and others. He worked for Bon Magique and Jardin des Modes. He restyled and painted (creating a décor of canes) his first boutique: this was the start of the Jungle Jap boutique in Galérie Vivienne in 1970. Clothes — and knitwear — revolutionized the style of that moment: shapes, materials and Japan’s traditional drawings were harmoniously mixed with European styles. Ten years later the company born from the Kenzo brand was chaired by Franµois Beaufumé, who remained in place until 1993, the year in which the Arnault Group took control. But already in 1976 Kenzo’s boutiques were in all the largest cities of the world, selling different lines: menswear, womenswear, childrenswear, jeans, accessories, home linen, perfumes for men and women, bath products, and even writing pens. An eclectic talent, Kenzo has created theater costumes, in particular for the Course du Temps by Stockhausen (1979), and directed a movie, Rêve après Rêve (1980). He has exhibited at several shows and retrospectives and has won numerous prizes. When he turned 65, Kenzo Takada announced his retirement from fashion and his maison, “to give a new direction” to his life. This occurred after the show on 7 October 1999.
Kenzo made a surprising return with a line of prêt-à-porter, accessories, and house linen named Yume that in Japanese means “dream.” The Collection was produced as a joint venture with the LVMH Fashion Group, which in 1999 absorbed the Kenzo maison. At the same time, the designer realized a dream he had long had, the creation of a line of ready-to-wear fashion to sell through mail-order. This unique Collection was reserved to the catalogue of La Redoute, part of the PPR group (Pinault Printemps Redoute), a rival to LVMH in the struggle for world leadership in the luxury sector.
After the departure of Roy Krejberg, the designer of the men’s line, the maison announced that it would not present a Collection during the Paris fashion week of prêt-à-porter. The official explanation (they preferred to focus on the opening of the new flagship store, which was to be built in the former Samaritaine Sport building) seemed to hide another coup-de-thèatre: that Kenzo Takada may have been contacted by LVMH to return to his griffe.