Kenzo Takada, founder of free-spirited fashion house Kenzo, dies at 81

Although Mr. Takada retired from his eponymous fashion house in 1999 to pursue a career in art, Kenzo has remained one of the most respected elements of Parisian fashion. Since 1993, the brand has belonged to the French luxury goods group LVMH. Its creative director, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, unveiled Kenzo’s spring-summer line on Wednesday.

“His incredible energy, his kindness, his talent and his smile were contagious,” said Oliveira Baptista. “His soul mate will live forever.”

The son of hoteliers, Mr. Takada was born in Himeji, Japan on February 27, 1939, and developed a passion for fashion by reading his sisters’ fashion magazines. After studying at the Bunka Fashion College in Tokyo, he worked briefly in Japan and moved to Paris in 1965 to work as a freelance designer.

Mr. Takada took over a boutique in 1970 and crystallized his future ready-to-wear aesthetic, inspired by Asian styles and the jungle scenes of the painter Henri Rousseau. Her styles used bright colors and contrasting prints and were inspired by travels around the world.

His first collection at the store was all cotton because he had little money. But the clothes spoke for themselves, and one of her models was featured on the cover of Elle magazine. Soon after, her pioneering shoulder shapes, wide armholes, overalls, smocked tent dresses and innovative shoulder shapes were featured in Vogue.

His contributions to style were significant. He defends a youthful aesthetic and an unstructured shape and eliminates zippers to free the silhouettes. His signatures were wider sleeves and armholes, reminiscent of the traditional clothing of his native continent, Asia.

Mr. Takada also cited Yves Saint Laurent as a key inspiration and shared his penchant for acting. In 1978 and 1979, he presented Kenzo’s line under a circus tent and rode an elephant.