Feel­ing nostal­gic

> Ja­panese fash­ion le­gend Kenzo Takada lifts the veil on his eclec­tic, colour­ful legacy

The Sun (Malaysia) - - STYLE -

KENZO TAKADA ( be­low), the Ja­panese de­signer who re­tired at the height of his colour­ful ca­reer nearly 20 years ago, wants to show the world how he came up with the path­break­ing de­signs that helped cat­a­pult a wave of Ja­panese cre­ators onto the Paris stage.

Af­ter years of tak­ing time for him­self, “I again needed to do some­thing, to work,” he told AFP.

“I am very happy, but at times I feel nostal­gic.”

The re­sult is a new book trac­ing his tra­jec­tory since ar­riv­ing in France as a young man with dreams of bring­ing his de­signs to life in the fash­ion world’s beat­ing heart.

Kenzo Takada delves into his French ad­ven­ture, with more than 40 years of sketches, pho­tos and mem­o­ries, up to his fi­nal run­way show at Paris’s Zenith con­cert hall.

The high­light is un­doubt­edly a pre­vi­ously un­re­leased photo es­say tak­ing read­ers through the cre­ation of an ex­quis­ite wed­ding gown from his au­tumn and win­ter col­lec­tion of 1982-83.

His fans get an in­ti­mate glimpse of a mas­ter at work: a note­book of draw­ings, Kenzo in his work­shop with long­time as­sis­tant At­suko Kondo, a bal­let slip­per be­ing painted red be­cause time was too tight to scout out the right shoe.

“We started just two days be­fore the show!” Kenzo said in an in­ter­view in Paris.

“The theme of this col­lec­tion was flow­ers.

This wed­ding dress, draped in gar­lands of flow­ers, was the very im­age of the col­lec­tion, a sort of sym­bol,” he said.

To per­fect the com­po­si­tion, Kenzo dug into a vast col­lec­tion of rib­bons – old and new, plain or em­broi­dered – ac­cu­mu­lated over the years.

The trade­mark vi­brancy and bold colours of Ja­pan’s most fa­mous de­signer are in many ways the ex­act op­po­site of what he found upon his ar­rival in the French cap­i­tal.

“I ar­rived at the Gare de Lyon the evening of Jan­uary 1, 1965. It was dark and the sta­tion was old, dirty, black,” he re­called.

“I took a taxi and my first im­pres­sion of Paris was that it was dis­mal and bleak. It was Paris, the cap­i­tal of fash­ion, the city I had dreamed of, and it seemed so sad,” he said.

“But then the taxi went by Notre Dame ... it was mag­nif­i­cent.”

In let­ters to his mother he de­scribes bread so good he eats too much, and bathing just once a week be­cause the pub­lic baths are too ex­pen­sive.

But he also de­scribes the over­whelm­ing beauty of the flower shops, which were plen­ti­ful in Paris but a rar­ity in Tokyo at the time.

Af­ter manag­ing to sell some of his draw­ings to mag­a­zines in­clud­ing Elle, he opened his first shop in the Vivi­enne Gallery in 1969, dec­o­rat­ing it with jun­gle mo­tifs and call­ing his brand “Jun­gle Jap”.

“At the time, syn­thetic fab­rics were in fash­ion in Paris, and the clothes were quite sombre. Dur­ing a visit to Ja­pan I bought coloured fab­rics in cot­ton,” he said.

He also bor­rowed from the metic­u­lous craft­ings of ki­monos, adding au­da­cious colours while in­ject­ing new en­ergy into shows with mod­els who would skip, hop and dance their way down the run­way.

With flow­ing de­signs that broke with the rig­or­ous lines which dom­i­nated cou­ture, he also gave new li­cence for women’s bod­ies to breathe and move freely.

Kenzo even­tu­ally sold his brand to French fash­ion gi­ant LVMH in 1993, which now fo­cuses on per­fumes, skin­care and ready-to-wear fash­ions.

“I think I brought lib­erty to fash­ion, in how clothes are worn, how they are moved in, the colours,” he said.

“The Kenzo woman is a free woman, beau­ti­ful and dy­namic.”

– AFP-Re­laxnews

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