With over fifty years of experience in the fashion scene, Kenzo has amassed a global following. Known for a vibrant energy conveyed through bold designs with splashes of colour and bombastic logos, Kenzo offers a collection of women’s pieces that celebrate diversity and contemporary attitude. Founded in 1970 in Paris by the label’s namesake, Kenzo Takada, the brand quickly carved its own unique space in the world of fashion with a distinct look and instantly recognisable branding. Kenzo Takada opened his first boutique in Galerie Vivienne in Paris, where the House has since continued to operate for over fifty years.
Japanese born Kenzo Takada grew up in Himeji in the Hyogo Prefecture where his parents ran a hotel. Having developed an interest in fashion from an early age, Takada went on to study at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo where he developed his eye for design and excelled to win the prestigious fashion award, the Seon Award, in 1961. Following his graduation, Takada continued to explore and expand his skills while working with the Sanai department store where he worked designing girls clothing. Takada has credited the French design house Yves Saint Laurent with providing a source of inspiration for his own work. Having been mentored by a teacher at Bunka Fashion College, Chie Koike, who had studied at L'École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, Takada continued to fall in love with the French way of approaching design. In 1964, Kenzo Takada ventured to Paris on a month-long boat trip in which he arrived at Gare de Lyon station in 1965. Being from a modest family, Takada at first struggled while living in Paris, and he worked selling sketches on his designs to Fashion houses to get by. Takada’s goal to create something in Paris was what propelled him forward, and his determination was what kept him from leaving to go back to Japan. Doing anything to work in the fashion industry, Takada worked as a stylist at a textile manufacturer, with the ultimate goal to open a boutique fashion house.
Finally in 1970, Takada met a woman who offered to rent a small space in the Galerie Vivienne for a low price. Delighted at the opportunity to create something, Takada took the space and opened his very first fashion store. Takada’s first collection was a bold and eccentric capsule of designs that were created from a mix of fabrics that Takada had sourced from the Saint Pierre market in Montmartre. As a young designer with little money, Takada couldn’t afford professional models to showcase his first collection, and instead worked with amateur people he had street cast whose faces Takada decorated with spots of green paint. This was the beginning of the Kenzo identity which has since become known to push the boundaries and experiment with playful, non-confirming ideas of beauty, fashion and design.
Takada’s first store was painted with a lush tropical jungle design, inspired by the works of the painter Henri Rousseau. Paying homage to the lush greenery in his homeland, Takada named his first store ‘Jungle Jap’, a name that caused controversy when the young designer travelled to the United States for the first time. Upon returning to Paris, Takada decided to rebrand his business, and Kenzo as we now know it was built. Kenzo quickly caught the attention of the fashion world, when in June of 1970 the fashion magazine Elle featured his designs on its cover. With such a fast drive of success, Takada moved his store from the Galerie Vivienne to the Passage Choiseul where he continued to build his brand and craft the collections that would propel him to the international platform. In 1971, Kenzo presented his collections in New York and Tokyo where he was meant with instant adoration, and by 1972, Takada was awarded the Fashion Editor Clun of Japan prize.
1976 saw the opening of Kenzo’s flagship store in the Place des Victoires, all the while the brand continued to grow and experiment with a daring attitude and distinct avant garde style. With Kenzo, Takada established a French brand with an unmistakable fusion of Japanese style. At the time when Takada arrived and began working in Paris, the city was full of old European fashion houses that were virtually unshakable from the main fashion stage. Kenzo became a brand that challenged the status quo, disrupted the norms of French fashion and redefined Parisian style.
Takada eventually took a step back from his namesake label and entrusted the brand to new creative heads Humberto Leon and Carol Lim while Takada went on to become the honorary president of the Asian Couture Federation. Today Kenzo continues to reinvent traditional fashion codes with seasonal collections of ready to wear designs for men and women. The brand now operates under the thoughtful guide of the Portuguese designer, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, whose artistic direction has given the brand a fresh take on contemporary design and borderless fashion.
Shop our range of women’s Kenzo pieces here at Incu for apparel that celebrates diversity, creativity and bold playfulness in dressing. In store and online we stock a range of women’s Kenzo t-shirts and sweatshirts with signature bold branding, polychromatic printed shirts with oversized fits and featherweight fabrications, skirts in a range textured fabrics, and dresses with subtly avant garde silhouettes and an understated coolness that only French labels could pull off. For similar styles, browse our range of women’s brands like Baum und Pferdgarten, Maison Kitsune, A.P.C., Comme des Garcons Play, and more.