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Kenzo Takada (高田賢三 Takada Kenzō, born 27 February 1939 in Himeji, Japan) is a Japanese fashion designer. He is also the founder of Kenzo, a worldwide brand of perfumes, skincare products and clothes, and is currently the acting Honorary President of the Asian Couture Federation.
Kenzo's love for fashion developed at an early age, particularly through reading his sisters' magazines. He shortly attended Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, where he felt bored and eventually withdrew, against the will of his family. In 1958, he joined a fashion school, Tokyo's Bunka Fashion College, which had then just opened its doors to male students.
After earning his diploma, he settled in Paris in 1964. He was trying to gain a place in the fashion environment; attending shows, making contacts with the media and selling sketches.
Kenzo's first designs started because he could only afford to buy his fabrics from flea sales. As a result, Kenzo had to mix many bold fabrics together to make one garment.
Kenzo worked for companies in Tokyo and Paris before he struck out on his own. His success started in 1970: during this year he presented his first show at the Vivienne Gallery; his first store, "Jungle Jap" was opened; and one of his models appeared in the cover of ELLE. His collection was presented in New York and Tokyo in 1971. The next year, he won the Fashion Editor Club of Japan's prize. Kenzo proved his sense of dramatic appearance when, in 1978 and 1979, he held his shows in a circus tent, finishing with horsewomen performers wearing transparent uniforms and he himself riding an elephant.
His first men's collection was launched in 1983. In 1988, his women's perfume line began with Kenzo de Kenzo (now known as Ça Sent Beau), Parfum d'été, Le monde est beau and L'eau par Kenzo. Kenzo pour Homme was his first men's perfume (1991). FlowerbyKenzo, launched in 2000, has since become a flagship fragrance for the Kenzo Parfums brand. In 2001, a skincare line, KenzoKI was also launched.
Takada announced his retirement in 1999 to purse a career in art, leaving his assistants in charge of his fashion house. However, in 2005 he reappeared as a decoration designer presenting Gokan Kobo (五感工房 "workshop of the five senses"), a brand of tableware, home objects and furniture. After a few years off, he wanted to take a new direction, stating "when I stopped working five years ago, I went on vacation, I rested, I traveled. And when I decided to work again, I told myself it would be in decoration, more than fashion." Additionally, in 2013 Kenzo joined the Asian Couture Federation as the organisation's inaugural Honorary President.
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