Kenzo on Personal Style, Pet Peeves and What He'd Do if the World Was Ending

Fashion icon Kenzo Takada, 80, submits to George Wayne's questions.

Kenzo Takada
Kenzo Takada at the Dior Homme Menswear show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 23, 2018 in Paris. Jacopo Raule/Getty Images for Dior

Legendary Japanese-French designer Kenzo Takada just celebrated his 80th birthday in grand Parisian style March 1 at the Pavillon Ledoyen, one of the oldest restaurants in the City of Lights. And there's much to celebrate besides the fact that Takada looks 20 years younger than the indefatigable octogenarian he is today. There is also a brand new coffee table book, simply titled Kenzo Takada, to promote.

Kenzo Takada
Kenzo Takada poses with an origami Christmas tree at Hotel Salomon de Rothschild on December 3, 2013 in Paris. Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

To say the perennial legend of French pret-a-porter broke the mold is mere understatement: The simple fact that his initial arrival to Paris from Japan, those many decades ago, was not by jet but by boat says it all about this particular maverick. And though he hasn't been affiliated with his eponymous fashion house since 2000, Kenzo's raison d'etre has never been more resonant.

His pioneering madcap use of texture and bold, vibrant color have never been more influential. Just ask Gucci's Alessandro Michele—it would be hard for even him to deny the obvious references.

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kenzo takada
A model wears a Kenzo chrome-yellow silk short-sleeved shirt and a stretch mini in magenta with a lavender chevron at the waist for Kenzo's 1996 Spring/Summer ready-to-wear collection in the gardens of the Museum of Decorative Arts on October 16, 1995. PIERRE VERDY/AFP/Getty Images

Below, Kenzo submits to the George Wayne questionnaire.

My new coffee table book is intended to inspire any creative and fashion enthusiast .

The first time I realized my calling was when I got to Paris as a very young man and was an immediate hit with my designs.

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The first book that truly impacted my life was actually fashion magazines in the 1950s.

My idea of ultimate paradise is watching the sunset with a lover.

I consider my spirit age to be 27.

Kenzo Takada

The most dangerous situation I ever found myself in was being on a boat during a 24-hour hurricane in the north of Venezuela.

The last thing I do before going to bed is a bit of yoga.

One of my greatest regrets is the fact that I didn't learn enough English and French.

The soundtrack to my life is Nina Simone's "Ne me quitte pas."

Kenzo Takada
Dilan Cicek Deniz and Kenzo Takada at Istanbul Fashion Week on September 11, 2018 in Istanbul, Turkey. Levent Kulu/Getty Images for IMG

The one item that defines my personal style is a scarf. I am always cold.

The one thing that is always in my refrigerator is champagne.

The one thing I would never sit on the fence about is the idea of taking risks.

Kenzo Takada

One pet project I'm currently finessing is painting.

A pet peeve that drives me absolutely ballistic is not being punctual.

When I hear disappointing news my first reaction is to panic.

The first thing I'd do if there was no tomorrow is call all of my lovers.

Kenzo Takada

The strangest thing I've ever put in my mouth is steak tartare, but I learned to love it.

The opening sentence of my memoir would probably read "Live with joy."

If I were ever stuck in an elevator with a living legend I would want it to be Alain Delon, because I already got stuck on an elevator with him in Japan when I was around 22.

The one thing about my body that I absolutely detest is wrinkles.

Kenzo Takada
A model in Kenzo's 1995/96 Fall/Winter men's ready-to-wear show in Paris. GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

The last time I told a lie was when I said I would return to Japan after a six-month trip to Paris.

My mother always told me to always move forward.

The temptation I always yield to is lavish holidays.

Minimalist or maximalist? Maximalist. I believe we should always use more of everything.

The one bit of advice I have for the next generation is keep being disruptive and changing things for the better.

Kenzo Takada is out now on Acc Art Books​.

Kenzo on Personal Style, Pet Peeves and What He'd Do if the World Was Ending | Culture