The founder of Kenzo, designer Kenzo Takada, has died of the Covid 19 virus in Paris.
I was always drawn to Kenzo perfumes (and his neckties and shirts and sweaters – his tropical/ Parisian ‘Japanese innocence’ aesthetic was instantly appealing to me from the offset) long before I ever set foot in Japan. From his first perfume, Kenzo Kenzo (1988), a warm spiced floriental that some of my friends wore in high school to deliciously soothing effect, to some of my own absolute olfactory milestones and most worn ever scents, including the brilliant Kenzo Summer (2005 – a perfume I can’t live without); Kenzo Pour Homme (1991) – an unforgettably original aquatic, to Jungle L’Elephant (1996), a spicy liquorice and patchouli vanilla bonanza that was my definitive signature for several years (- while my sister and my music partner both rocked Le Tigre and the almost luridly sweet and seductive Kashâya (1993) ), another friend his 90’s diffident water floral, L’Eau; also, Parfum D’Été, which was the perfume of Helen and other friends for quite a while – a dewy, green delicious floral in an captivating bottle that is truly of that time and stamped on my heart and memory – but even as recently as 2017, when I was given Kenzo Amour Eau Florale, which I wore in hospital and was great after as an after shower soother – —- the childlike, colourful escape of Kenzo perfumes has always been a delight. I have so many memories attached to these scents …
Selling everything he had and buying a one way ticket to Marseille in 1965, Kenzo scraped and worked until he had enough money to open his first boutique, the Rousseau inspired JungleJap featuring his first collection, which was spotted by the editor-in-chief at Elle at the time in Paris , who ran it immediately on the next issue’s front cover – and a fashion star was born. I love such passion and impulsive following of one’s instincts – an energy that was borne out in the sheer fun and pleasure of his creations.
RIP Mr Takada.