East and West
KENZO TAKADA, A FASHION LEGEND WITH JAPAN IN HIS HEART, LIVES AND WORKS IN TWO (ALMOST) TWIN APARTMENTS IN PARIS,
Two apartments, nearly twins, one for living, one for work. This is the solution Kenzo Takada, the legendary fashion designer, came up with for his own life. A solution affordable for but a few people, since the apartments are in a sober but luxurious building in Paris, with a view of the Tour Eiffel from a small terrace above the two-story living area. The studio is on the 4th floor, the home on the 6th. Both have grand pianos, because Kenzo really plays. At the age of 78 (though he looks much younger) he takes lessons. He still loves to discover new things. Kenzo has always been an explorer. Fascinated by apparel, he was one of the first males to enroll at Bunka College in Tokyo, a fashion school with a grand tradition. After graduating something unexpected happened: «The city was preparing for the Olympics, and they demolished the building where I lived. I was reimbursed, so I used the money to go to Paris». He went by sea, on a long tour for a young man who had never been outside Japan: Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay. He reached Marseille, and then Paris. The year was 1965. «In those days Paris meant couture, young fashion was in London», the designer says. «But things were changing. Hippie, ethnic, oriental trends. A great moment in which to get started». The rest is history, a story of worldwide success. In 1999 he announced his retirement, and in 2002 he made a series of furnishings. One piece was a screen in lacquer and crystal designed for Baccarat, now standing in his living room, with a Napoleon III méridienne and a gigantic geode. The wall is covered with drawings by Jean Cocteau. In over 50 years Kenzo has moved many times, exploring different districts: «I used to live near the Bastille», he says. «Before that I was on Rue de Fleurus, not far from here. My first house was on the Rive Gauche. But one of my dreams was to live in Saint-Germain, so I got this space. In the future I would like to try living by the Seine...». The need to roam extends to travel, from which he returns with objects: totems from Borneo, Greek-Roman sculptures. To understand the joyful spirit of the world of Monsieur Takada, just look at the shelves over the fireplaces: dozens of vases with flowers, Japanese porcelain, little elephants, crystal Buddhas. And many photographs of beautiful, smiling people.