Japan’s most famous fashion designer, Kenzo Takada, has died aged 81 after contracting coronavirus.
News of Mr Takada’s death was confirmed on the Facebook page of his global fashion brand Kenzo, after the designer lost his fight with the deadly virus in France.
“It is with immense sadness that KENZO has learned of the passing of our founder, Kenzo Takada,” the Facebook post reads.
“For half a century, Mr. Takada has been an emblematic personality in the fashion industry – always infusing creativity and colour into the world.
“Today, his optimism, zest for life and generosity continue to be pillars of our Maison. He will be greatly missed and always remembered.”
Mr Takada was the first Japanese designer to decamp to Paris and known especially for his signature floral prints.
Tributes have been flowing in for the designer since news of his death broke on Sunday.
He “helped to write a new page in fashion, at the confluence of the East and the West”, said Ralph Toledano of the Haute Couture Federation.
Kenzo’s creative director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, also paid tribute to Mr Takada in an Instagram post.
“FAREWELL MASTER. It is with great sadness that I have learned the passing away of Mr Kenzo Takada,” he wrote.
“His amazing energy, kindness, talent and smile were contagious. His kindred spirit will live forever.”
“A designer with immense talent, he gave colour and light their rightful place in fashion,” said Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo on Twitter.
“Paris is today mourning one of its sons.”
Mr Takada’s death comes 50 years after he launched his first collection in Paris, which he adopted as his home.
“Every wall, every sky and every passer-by helps me build my collections,” he once said of the city.
He retired from fashion in 1999, six years after selling his brand to luxury conglomerate LVMH, and dedicated his time to one-off projects including a design collection at the start of this year.
Mr Takada arrived in Paris in 1965 and was first hired in a poodle parlour, which was the only job he could get at the time.
In 1970, however, he took the lease of premises in the Galerie Vivienne, then a rather down-at-heel shopping arcade.
“With a few friends for three months we painted the walls with jungle scenes like Le Douanier Rousseau’s Snake Charmer and baptised it Jungle Jap,” he recalled later.
He became famous almost overnight after the editor-in-chief of Elle magazine saw his first fashion show and liked the collection so much she ran it on the front cover.
By the early 1980s, when other Japanese designers were making their way in Paris, Takada was already well established on the French fashion scene.
From the early 1980s boutiques opened all over the world in New York, London, Milan, Tokyo and Rome, followed later by Hong Kong, Munich, Venice, Bangkok and Singapore.