French luxury fashion house Kenzo was founded in 1970 by Japanese designer Kenzo Takada and now owned by LVMH.
Kenzo Takada initially struggled to earn a living in Paris, selling sketches of his designs to fashion houses and working with Pisanti textile group as a stylist. he opened his own boutique in 1970 where inspired by painter Henri Rousseau.. he painted the interiors with a jungle floral aesthetic and named his brand: Jungle Jap.
Kenzo designed collections unlike anything Paris had seen. He- along with Issey Miyake and Hanae Mori- was part of the first wave of Japanese designers in the Seventies to get a foothold in the rarefied world of Paris fashion. His early designs- with its combination of bold print and Japanese silhouettes- were revolutionary. In June 1970 Elle featured one of the designs on its cover. It was a hit! The following year he showcased in New York and Tokyo.. and some of the designs appeared in Vogue where his smock tent dresses, oversized dungarees, enlarged armholes and unique store design were slated as the next big thing in Paris.
“It was only in 1970, when I started my brand and I had to really find an identity and make something new, that I realised I had to go back to my roots” Takada told W magazine in 2017. “So I started mixing Japanese influences with European culture… And then I quickly became influenced by other cultures and mixed in elements from around the world. That was very fresh to the market at the time—it was a whole new way of doing things.”
Kenzo landed himself in controversy when Japanese American Citizens League issued a summons to him on his first visit to the United States in 1971, challenging him to remove the word “Jap” from the fashion brand and he renamed it Kenzo. In 1976 Kenzo flagship opened in Place des Victoires and then the brand diversified into fragrance and skincare.
In 1993 LVMH acquired Kenzo for reported $80 million and sales hit $144 million, per United Press International. In October 1999 Kenzo Takada resigned as creative director and was eventually replaced by Antonio Marras. In July 2011 Marras was succeeded by Asian-American artistic directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. “Kenzo- as a brand- has such a rich and fascinating history, it can be hard to determine what exactly we have changed” Leon told Vogue. “With our new collections we hope that we have injected the brand with a youthful spirit and a sense of fun and cheekiness. But we also want to respect and preserve the traditions of the Kenzo house such as the importance of prints and the sense of worldliness and travel that has been intrinsic to every collection in the history of Kenzo.”
By 2011 Kenzo barely broke even with annual sales estimated at 150 million euros. In 2017 the luxury brand built its accessories and footwear business to near thirty percent of revenues. On June 25, 2020 Kenzo unveiled its first American flagship in SoHo, Manhattan. Sadly Takada died at 81 after battling Covid-19-related complications. In his lifetime, he was awarded with Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1984 and was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2016.
In September 2021 Kenzo named Nigo as the new Artistic Director and his showings continue to be critically acclaimed. Kenzo Spring 2024 RTW was described by Vogue as “One thing that has captured Nigo’s interest of late is… the Japanese pop music movement… recently regained mainstream global popularity. This tension between the authentically Japanese and its Western reinterpretations is something that Nigo deftly navigates in his work. This was put on display in this collection as he revisited the clothes from the time when he first experienced the music in the context of a now global brand…” Today the iconic fashion house has 122 stores around the world.
Kenzo Takada envisioned luxury fashion created for real life with va bit of playful urbanity. Through Artistic Director Nigo’s instinct for contemporary design a new vision is seen taking shape at Kenzo: “real-to-wear: a wardrobe entrenched in an authentic realistic approach to fashion, which transcends the conventional labels of formal- casual- street.
From the very beginning.. flowers are found on the designs of Kenzo’s collections. They symbolise the brand values and mission: openness, youthfulness, joy and optimism. Kenzo is committed to protecting and planting them!
perfume and skincare, apparel and accessories
Sylvain Blanc (CEO)
Nigo (Artistic Director)
In his lifetime, Kenzo Takada was awarded with Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1984 and was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour in 2016.