By Selina Dufner
Kenzo Takada and Sergio Rossi – two incredibly talented designers that sadly departed this life after catching Covid-19 this year. Let’s look back at their iconic lives and celebrate their amazing achievements.
“Kenzo was the first competition Yves [Saint Laurent] had in years. They greatly admired each other. Kenzo really invented the laid-back look; his stuff was not so proper” – Loulou de la Falaise
Takada grew up in Japan and eventually moved to Paris to pursue his dream of becoming a fashion designer. In 1970, he opened his first boutique in the Gallerie Vivienne called “Jungle Jap”. It wasn’t until six years later that he changed the name of his brand to “Kenzo” to adapt to the wishes of the newly won American customers. Takada was fascinated by exotic patterns and foreign cultures. To him, it was only natural to include various styles from all over the world in one collection, and he managed to do that harmoniously and effortlessly so that it didn’t come across as forced. He told Vogue in 2000 that his work was always about freedom and harmony and that he would like to be remembered as a designer who crossed boundaries. By embracing all kinds of ethnicities, he certainly did achieve that.
Partying was another passion of his and in 1977, he held a runway show at Studio 54, where he was often seen. He invited model and singer Grace Jones to perform, and Jerry Hall was one of the models presenting the collection. The models were dancing around and simply having the time of their lives because that is what the brand is all about: Joy, fun, and freedom. In 1993, Takada sold the company to LVHM but was still the designer until his retirement in 1999. He died on October 4th, 2020, aged 81.
“Sergio was one of the main forces in Italian manufacture and design. I met him years ago and he was so charming – he contributed so much, he was a major talent and very important. He had an incredible flair for what is current, he produced wonderful things. It’s an enormous loss for the shoe industry” – Manolo Blahnik
The Italian shoe designer used to sell a variety of models – one of them being the renowned Opanca sandal – in Bologna before eventually founding his namesake company in 1968. It didn’t take long for Gianni Versace to notice Rossi’s talent and to ask him to work in collaboration. Besides that, Rossi designed shoes for Dolce & Gabbana from 1989 to 1999. In 1999, he sold his company to Gucci Group. Riccardo Sciutto, the current CEO of the brand, said about Rossi that he “loved women and was able to capture a woman’s femininity in a unique way. He was never over-the-top, always in good taste. The shoes were always wearable, and he was never satisfied until they were perfect. They were not accessories for him. He told me once that he wanted to create the perfect extension of a women’s leg”.
Helmut Newton, who shared Rossi’s passion for femininity, captured some iconic advertising campaigns using a low angle to focus on the heel, at least seven centimetres high, and the woman’s legs with the aim to define the image of women according to Sergio Rossi. The designer passed away on April 2nd, 2020, at the age of 84.