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.

Kenzo Takada in his atelier, 1973.


Filed under Flowers

22 responses to “GOODBYE KENZO

  1. Robin

    It just ain’t fair.

    • He was 81 – a fine age, but still.

      May the virus be conquered as soon as possible.

    • I remember when Kenzo Kenzo entered the market in the late eighties : there was something very new and simple about the perfume house – original and perfectly thought out perfumes and accompanying product design that was refreshingly new and modern compared to the Guerlains, Diors, and Chanels. A silent pull.

      • Robin

        I remember that era well, and Kenzo’s unique place in it. That aesthetic stood out relative to everything classically French, Italian and American, although he worked with a lot of Europeans in the development of his releases (which was not a bad thing). I have never smelled Jungle l’Elephant, if you can believe it. I’ve been tempted to blind buy the current formulation but it sounds like a shadow of its former beast.

        I’ve had a few of his fragrances over the years, and the one that has stood out is l’Eau par Kenzo. Ironically, it’s a standout for me because it’s anything but, in a sense: fresh, watery, clean, it works like an no-brainer eau de cologne with a certain Japanese _ _ _ _ _ _ (insert Japanese phrase for je ne sais quoi). It has a sense of place, of a brook or lake or water feature in a traditional Japanese garden. Very Zen. Without being a cliché.

      • Perfectly put. Exactly.

        L’Eau is an odd one : but definitely evokes something you can’t quite place; the lake analogy is also how I experience it.

  2. I always liked his perfumes and it’s still sad that he passed away even at the age of 81.

    • Especially if it involved the respiratory horrors of the hideous coronavirus. Not a nice way to end one’s life at all.

      Let’s all continue to do whatever we can to avoid getting it !

  3. Tara C

    I wore his Parfum d’Été and later Amour, also have a couple of his scarves purchased in Paris. I loved his style and the guts to just go to France and fight his way into the career he wanted and loved. RIP Kenzo Takada.

    • Me too. Obviously a lot of the designs, the perfumes, will not have been created by him personally, as in any house, but Kenzo definitely does have its own unique and very appealing aesthetic.

      I heard he hadn’t been the creative director for many years now, but hopefully those that inherit the reins will keep at least some of the DNA intact.

  4. It is so terribly sad that he passed away from such a terribly horrific disease, especially given his age. I always adored the aesthetic of Kenzo fragrances and the freshness the brought to the wearer. Can you believe the only scent I own by him is Flower, and that is only because we were given a bottle by the reps when I was working at Sephora. Which other scents by him do you think I should search for and buy? Which ones would fit my fragrance profile best do you think?

    • I don’t entirely see you as a Kenzo girl ( too sweet : too acrylic ), but I know you like Eden so am pretty sure you would love Kenzo Kenzo in vintage : lovely in that warm and snuggly style.

      What did you actually think of Flower? A bit too generic ? On some people the powdery musk can smell very pretty – but a bit… concealed.

      • I like Flower for what it is; a soft, powdery, wearable floral scent. I enjoy it. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking, but very easy to wear and and not too full of itself.
        I vaguely remember trying Kashaya when I was working in Sephora and finding that kind of nice as well. I think I will get that on ebay as well.
        I will definitely try to procure a Kenzo Kenzo on ebay, I must try it.

      • Yes – unlike Flower (‘not too full of itself ): yes, exactly – the others are still modest to a degree but more full bodied and yummy

      • I do love full bodied an yummy!!

  5. I have always been a bit of a Japanophile and so of course loved Kenzo. Jungle L’Elephant was of the few 90s heavy hitters that I loved. Cumin is usually a deal-breaker for me but in Jungle L’Elephant it absolutely worked. Always unique and the bottles are works of art. Ever the white floral lover of course I own Kenzo Amour Florale.
    I hope the house of Kenzo carries on the iconic tradition of its founder, RIP.

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