Monday, 15 January 2018

New Directions For Luxury Label Ralph & Russo

Creative director Tamara Ralph and CEO Michael Russo pictured after their debut ready-to-wear collection in London. Photograph by Elli Ioannou. Cover picture from the SS18 show by Kseniya Segina
Australians Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo are expanding their London-based couture house Ralph & Russo into a global luxury brand. Their fluid, elegant gowns are standouts on the red-carpet but their star reached an apotheosis when Meghan Markle wore a diaphanous dress for engagement portraits with Prince Harry. Another first for Ralph & Russo, was the launch of their debut prêt-à-porter range. Jeanne-Marie Cilento looks back at the highlights of the Spring/summer 2018 show. Photographed exclusively for DAM by Elli Ioannou and Kseniya Segina

 The silk organza couture gown AW16
worn by Meghan Markle.
Photo: Elli Ioannou
Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo launched their the ready-to-wear collection in London last September and it was another landmark for this remarkable Australian pair. Ralph & Russo couture dresses are worn by a roster of high-profile, international clients and are often seen on the red carpet from Los Angeles to Cannes, worn by actors such as Jennifer Lawrence, Blake Lively, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Singers Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kylie Minogue have all dazzled in their filmy, gossamer gowns too.

However, American actor Meghan Markle choosing a Ralph & Russo creation for her official engagement pictures with Prince Harry has brought a new spotlight to their work and launched them on to the world's stage beyond the fashion arena. The floor-length dress is from their autumn/winter 2016 collection shown in Paris and has a sheer bodice decorated with glimmering golden embroidered leaves with a black, silk organza skirt, hand appliqued with silk tulle ruffles. It is estimated to have cost £47k while the ready-to-wear prices start at around £2,800 and go up to £15k.

Meghan Markle choosing a Ralph & Russo creation has launched the label on to the world's stage beyond the fashion arena

White silk crêpe chiffon bodysuit,
slashed balloon sleeves & chiffon culottes.
Photo: Elli Ioannou 
Remarkably, Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo have built their couture atelier into a luxury label in less than a decade. Ralph & Russo now have several hundred skilled artisans (more than Chanel or Dior) working on their collections. All of the designs are made by hand, and can take up to 3000 hours to make and, despite the cost, are said to sell 250 couture creations a month. There is a strong team at their atelier in Hyde Park including embroiderers, tailors and designers who work in toile, chiffon, velvet and silk. The brand has now expanded to include accessories ranges and is opening boutiques around the world where the ready-to-wear collections will retail. Michael Russo has also mooted that fragrance, cosmetics and eye wear are planned for the future.

Last September, British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush said she was pleased to welcome Ralph & Russo to the London Fashion Week schedule: "The craftsmanship behind their couture collection is a shining example of Britain’s artisan heritage, and I’m excited to see their debut ready to wear collection." Dressing Meghan Markle for her engagement pictures is not the first time, the designers have been linked to royal occasions. Both British Fashion Council chairman Natalie Massenet and actor Angleina Jolie wore Ralph & Russo suits for their investitures at Buckingham Palace. Beyoncé has worn costumes designed by them on tour and Gwyneth Paltrow wore a slim pink, one-shouldered dress finished with a large rosette for the Oscars. Actress Hailee Steinfeld wore a silken, ruffled gown at last year's Academy Awards where she presented an Oscar and Jennifer Lopez appeared at the 2017 Grammy Awards in a pale pink Ralph & Russo confection while Kirsten Dunst has sat in the front row of their couture show in Paris.

Remarkably, Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo have built their couture atelier into a luxury label and global powerhouse in a decade

Royal blue silk chiffon evening
dress with cascading pleated frills.
Photo: Elli Ioannou 
Ralph & Russo is the only British fashion house to be elected by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show its collection on the official schedule at Paris Haute Couture Week. Didier Grumbarch, the Chambre Syndicale’s former president, said they have a ‘savoire faire’ which many more established couture houses have lost. It was in January 2014 that Ralph & Russo became the first British guest member in more than a century.

While designer Tamara Ralph is the creative director of the brand, Michael Russo ~ her partner in business and life ~ is CEO. Ms Ralph says she always knew that she wanted to be part of the world of fashion as she is the fourth generation in her family to work in couture and fashion design. Her mother, grandmother and great-grand mother all created gowns for society ladies in Sydney. When Ralph was 10 years old they began to teach her about sewing, two years later she was making clothes for herself and friends. By the time she was 15 years old, Tamara Ralph was selling her designs to private clients and independent boutiques in Australia. She then went on to study at the Whitehouse Institute of Design before moving to London. Tamara Ralph first met Michael Russo by chance in London in 2003 when she was on holiday and he was working as a financial consultant. They fell in love and after a long distance relationship for a year, he bought her a ticket back to London and she began designing and making clothes on a small scale in the British capital.

Metallic plissé floral print evening gown,
featuring asymmetric twist strap.
Photo: Elli Ioannou 

Three years later, the pair created Ralph & Russo and in the following 10 years it has grown into an high fashion label with clients around the world. Today, Ralph & Russo have shown on the official Paris haute couture schedule for four years making them one of only a handful of Australians recognised as couturiers by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Known for their dedication to true couture, Ralph & Russo are gently pushing boundaries in new design directions with innovative techniques, including a new fabric made by fusing silk and tulle. Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo have also been included in Fortune’s 40 under 40, the magazine’s annual ranking of influential young businesspeople and Ralph & Russo was the first fashion house to be on the list. While the company has showrooms in London and Paris, there are international boutiques planned to open around the world. As a designer, Tamara Ralph believes their success is due to their personal interaction with their clients alongside the house's outstandingly high level of quality and craftsmanship.

For their debut Ralph & Russo Spring/Summer 2018 prêt-à-porter collection, Ms Ralph wanted to mix both the traditional and contemporary, reinterpreting signature styles such as the little black dress and the classic tuxedo jacket. New techniques and fabric innovation include gold brocade transposed onto jet-black laminated tweed. Utilitarian jackets are juxtaposed with tightly-waisted feminine silhouettes and oversized outerwear such as the denim jacket reimagined in silk. The colour palette includes whites which contrast with dashes of red, electric metallic blues and blush while florals are offset with icy silver details.

For their debut Spring/Summer 2018 prêt-à-porter collection, Tamara Ralph mixed both the traditional and contemporary, reinterpreting signature styles

Metallic rose gold bonded silk crêpe trench coat.
Photo: Kseniya Segina
The clothes may be ready-to-wear but are beautifully made like the Ralph & Russo couture pieces. The collection of 45 looks is meant to take women from day to evening, so the range includes shimmering, metallic jackets, coats and skirts that could be dressed up or down depending on occasion. The gold trench and slim, pencil skirts in silver or laminated gold tweed add a dash of glamour to day wear along with embroidered dresses finished with ostrich feathers. However, Ralph & Russo's signature gowns came to the fore for the evening wear with flowing, sheer confections that were romantic and modern mixed with flowered, pleated cocktail outfits and ruffled dresses in celestial blues. 
Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, chose the vast Old Billingsgate market that overlooks the Thames, as the venue for their first ready-to-wear show. The 480-foot circular runway had long perspectives created by white lampposts imprinted with their R&R logo. The set design enhanced the luxury brand's new aesthetic from the dream of couture to the more urbane ready-to-wear collection that managed to be practical but not pragmatic. At the show’s finale, models posed by the lamposts and handsome waiters took to the runway carrying trays of cocktails and delicate canapes to serve guests. This stylish and wearable debut ready-to-wear collection will be stocked in the rapidly expanding Ralph & Russo international retail network.

Tap on photographs for full-screen slideshow
The glamorous catwalk of Ralph & Russo's spring/summer 2018 ready-to-wear collection in London. Mustard satin-silk asymmetric dress, at left, and, right, blue chiffon evening dress with Swarovski details. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Cocktails after the celebratory debut ready-to-wear show at Old Billingsgate in London. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Flowers and tattoos: ice blue lamé shirt dress in floral print, featuring bespoke crested buttons. Photograph: Kseniya Segina
Waiters carrying cocktails on the gleaming 200 metre curving runway after Ralph & Russo's show in London. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
  Khaki double satin parachute jumpsuit with military details and tie belt. Photograph: Kseniya Segina
Detail of gold-embossed calf leather handbag with gold hardware. Photograph: Kseniya Segina
The canapes after Ralph & Russo's show were as elegant and creative as the collection. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Metallic midnight blue plissé evening gown, featuring plunge neckline embellished with cascading frills and crystal blue denim spheres. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Artistic canapes reflected Tamara Ralph's refined design ethos at the ready-to-wear show at Old billingsgate in London. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Ice blue laminate silk chiffon multi frill plissé gown with printed lamé belt. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Silk chiffon frill plissé gown with printed lamé belt on the runway in London. Photograph: Kseniya Segina
Dusky rose asymmetric cashmere blouse with draped scarf detail and metallic rose gold silk crêpe pencil skirt. Photograph: Kseniya Segina

On the runway, rose asymmetric cashmere blouse with draped scarf detail and metallic rose gold bonded silk crêpe pencil skirt. Photograph: Kseniya Segina
Oversized black double sided jacquard floral printed cocktail coat, featuring frill sleeves and worn with a black silk crêpe bra and pencil skirt. Photograph: Kseniya Segina

 Snow White embossed cotton belted trench. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
  Dusky rose silk organzino V-neck jumper and metallic rose gold silk jacquard parka coat, featuring reversible lavender silk jacquard interior. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Metallic rose gold silk jacquard parka coat, featuring reversible lavender silk jacquard interior and marching shiny boots. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Snow white tulle evening gown and bodysuit, featuring gold bugle chevron embroidered borders. Photograph: Kseniya Segina

Sand-coloured silk jacquard utilitarian dress, featuring crested buttons and floral designs in sunflower yellow, metallic lavender and gunmetal shades. Photograph: Kseniya Segina

Metallic silver bonded silk crêpe and white cashmere parka coat, featuring detachable sleeves and hood. Photograph: Kseniya Segina

Cornflower blue draped silk chiffon evening gown, featured layered degradé frills. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Cloudy blue silk knitwear crop top and high-waisted skirt, featuring tiered frills and crystal embellishment. Photograph: Kseniya Segina
Black hexagon lace tiered mini dress embroidered with black, rose gold and gunmetal degradé crystals. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Black embroidered mini dress with laminated tweed edging, double organza square cut-out embroidery on a glitter base, vinyl belt and asymmetric neckline. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Detail of black leather bag with rose gold feather design. Photograph: Kseniya Segina

Black monogrammed silk crisp faille parka with detachable hood and sleeves, adorned with organza cut maitte lasse and chain embroidery. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Black laminated tweed aviator jacket with laminate edging and double organza square cut-out embroidery on a glitter base. Paired with black, bonded lace and vinyl crosshatch embroidery crop top and pencil skirt. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

New Christian Lacroix Capsule Collection by Artist Brian Kenny

Christian Lacroix Creative Director Sacha Walckhoff with New York artist Brian Kenny strike a pose in Paris wearing pieces from the new BK x CL collection.Picture (above) by Gregoire Alexandre. Cover image by Kseniya Segina
The House of Christian Lacroix celebrates its 30th anniversary with a limited edition capsule collection by New York multimedia artist Brian Kenny. Along with the latest collection, the company has a new digital commerce platform, with collections available online for the first time. Jeanne-Marie Cilento talks to Christian Lacroix Creative Director Sacha Walckhoff about the French brand's new directions

Artist Brian Kenny with Christian Lacroix
CEO Nicolas Topiol in Paris, launching the
 new collection. Photo: Elli Ioannou 
In the thirty years since the French luxury house Christian Lacroix was founded in 1987, the fashion world has been through several revolutions and the storied label has had to sail through choppy waters. Yet creative director Sacha Walckhoff has managed to steer the Parisian maison with a steady hand and a clear vision for the future. The designer had worked closely with Christian Lacroix at the Paris atelier for 17 years before the couturier left the company in 2009 and Mr Walckhoff took the helm.
With a strong background in interior design and working as a designer himself with different companies, Mr Walckhoff has been able to broaden the Christian Lacroix range.

For inspiration, he draws on his deep and extensive knowledge of the history of fashion and his private collection of antique textiles and contemporary art to create new accessories and interior design products that combine the original, vivid Lacroix aesthetic with a real feeling for the zeitgeist. Under Mr Walckhoff's creative direction the brand has grown to include designs for men's fashion, accessories and interiors.

 Sacha Walckhoff's creative direction combines the vivid Christian Lacroix aesthetic with a strong feeling for the zeitgeist

 BK x CL Lacroix Sweetie Scarf,
part of the new capsule collection.
 Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
Designer Christian Lacroix originally launched his young fashion house from an atelier in Paris to worldwide acclaim with Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The concept was to start with haute couture, at the apex of the luxury pyramid, and develop from it a range of ready-to-wear apparel, accessories and fragrances. Christian Lacroix became known for collections full of vibrant colours, mixing lively patterns and experimenting with fabrics. Mr. Arnault sold Lacroix in 2005 to the Falic Group who sought to refocus the luxury brand.

Today, Sacha Walckhoff has utilised the rich Lacroix archive to build the maison's expansion into interior design, women's accessories and menswear fashion collections. The latest capsule collection is another new direction for the brand with Mr Walckhoff bringing in New York City based artist Brian Kenny. The flamboyant American multimedia artist has been able to play with the evocative Christian Lacroix designs to create a unique, limited edition collection with a Pop abstraction leitmotif that still reflects the spirit of the French label. Called simply BK x CL, Mr Walckhoff says the collection aims to celebrate diversity and freedom, still drawing inspiration from the past but looking to the future. He had been aware of Brian Kenny's work for more than a decade but they only got together in person at his studio in New York last year.

Artist Brian Kenny with his new cushion designs
for Maison Christian Lacroix.
Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
"I knew of his work from a few years ago, he was a kind of "muse" for underground artist Slava Mogutin back in the early 2000s," Mr Walckhoff says from his atelier in Paris. "Brian went on to develop his own style during those years and I had the chance to visit his studio last year in Long Island and was impressed by his work ~ its richness and also the way he expresses strong opinions in a positive way, colourfully and also with humour.

"I thought it would be quite a challenge to ask a man of his generation to work on the celebration of a brand which was created when he was a child, but the result was beyond expectations. Brian really injected his energy and spirit into this lovely project and by doing so has introduced a new generation to the Lacroix experience."

Mr Walckhoff says Brian Kenny is able to blend genres and transcend artistic contradictions to create work that is at once joyful and expansive but also with an edge of the subversive. As an artist Brian Kenny worked closely with the label, reinterpreting classic Lacroix designs and patterns through his own kaleidoscopic vision.

Brian Kenny blends genres and transcends artistic contradictions to create joyful work with a subversive edge

The surreal Helping Hand men's tote bag by
Brian Kenny for Christian Lacroix
Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
There is a long history of strong cultural and artistic dialogue between the cities of Paris and New York. And this is reflected in the BK x CL collection that retains the Lacroix colour palette but has new figures that relate more to grittier Street Art and Pop than the original floral Lacroix eclecticism. "Paris and New York have always been strongly bound by the arts and cultures of each city," explains Mr Walckhoff. "While Paris is into tradition, New York is much more into novelty. It was the American collectors, at the beginning of the 20th century ,who bought Renoir, Degas, Manet or Picasso paintings long before they were recognised by the French.
"Paris is fascinated by the new ideas and the young spirit of the New York scene. While New York is always honoured when Paris recognises the talents of the Big Apple: Paris represents the universal "art city" for the entire world." Mr Walckhoff says he also shares a similar world view and philosophy with Brian Kenny that they wanted to express in the new collection for Christian Lacroix.

"We have the same values as Brian, we believe in an open minded society where everyone has the same rights and where each person should respect the liberty of others … which is still something the world has to work on!" One of the key pieces in the capsule collection is a reimagined design by Christian Lacroix. "Brian revisited the famous scarf "le Défilé" that Christian himself designed a long time ago, sketching a new version of it, full of humour. Each couture silhouette which wwas once the "cat walking" designs on the scarf are now guys or animals wearing Couture, echoing the "love who you want " notebook I did a few years ago too."

 "Paris is fascinated by the new ideas and young spirit of the New York scene. While New York is always honoured when Paris recognises the talents of the Big Apple"

The launch party for the BK x CL collection
at L'Exception, with DJs Doppelgänger Paris
 Photo: Elli Ioannou
Maison Christian Lacroix's celebratory capsule collection with Brian Kenny is made up of 35 different pieces ranging from tote bags, scarves, sweatshirts to notebooks, t-shirts, cushions, pins and patches. The designs have an appealing vibrancy created by both the pop of brilliant colour and Brian Kenny's startling figural compositions of colourful giraffes in pink and green with a yellow ruff and black and white corsets and stubbly men in A-line skirts.

Asked if he has a favourite piece in the new capsule collection, Sacha Walckhoff replies: "I love the sweat shirts and the big tote bag …I'm using them all the time!" Last month, set designer Hervé Sauvage created a special pop-up shop window at L'Exception flagship store in Paris which showed the BK x CL collection for the first time from the ready-to-wear pieces to lifestyle accessories. A lively party was held at L'Exception to celebrate the launch of the collaboration with Brian Kenny and Maison Christian Lacroix and sold out immediately.

A digital transformation of the company and the launch of the Christian Lacroix online platform is also part of the new direction for the brand. The BK x CL collection is available in limited editions for the first time along with the menswear, woman’s accessories, and the lifestyle collection and the full range of luxury products. Nicolas Topiol, the CEO of Maison Christian Lacroix, says it is a new, more direct way to connect with customers of the House: "With the launch of our digital commerce platform, we are looking to expand our distribution and be in contact with our customers. Christian Lacroix is an iconic luxury brand famous for its initial disruption of the Eighties fashion scene bringing vibrant colors and mix and match of fabrics, patterns and inspirations to a then monochrome fashion world."

Mr Walckhoff hopes the launch of the e-commerce site will bring new people to the label. "We want to be able to reach a bigger audience and to be able to reach our customers directly all around the world. This is surely something positive which was missing from the Christian Lacroix brand. It is a bit early to see how it will impact our brand but I hope it will be for the best!"

Tap photographs for full-screen slide-show
 Lacroix Sweetie! tote bag with its designs of fantastical figures and silhouettes that is part of the BK x CL capsule collection that Brian Kenny designed for Christian Lacroix. Photo: Gregoire Alexandre
 Large limited-edition Liberty Parade scarf designed by New York based artist Brian Kenny in linen and silk with a mix of genres and pop abstraction. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

New t-shirt with the colourful giraffe in pink and green drawn by Brian Kenny. Called Lacroix, Sweetie!, it has an oversized fit with short sleeves and a round collar. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

The new Lacroix Sweetie scarf with its anthropomorphic characters wearing couture created by Brian Kenny.
The artist has designed this square, printed silk twill scarf with bright colours and playful graphics. Photograph by Gregoire Alexandre

Multimedia artist Brian Kenny Strikes a Dadaist pose in Paris with the new BK x CL collection. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre
 The surreal new earrings enamelled in pink, white and black designed for the BK x CL capsule collection that celebrates Christian Lacroix's 30th anniversary. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

The vividly-hued new Jardin Secret Notebooks with a lively mix of drawings and designs by Brian Kenny, part of the limited edition collection. Photograph by Gregoire Alexandre

Together Wristlet, this zip-up clutch is part of  the Brian Kenny x Christian Lacroix capsule collection and features a black and white chevron strap and printed "Bosquet" interior lining. Photograph: Gregoire Alexandre

The tooth motif on this iron-on embroidered patch is multimedia artist Brian Kenny’s favourite theme. This limited edition piece is part of the collection that celebrates the French House’s 30th anniversary. Photograph by Gregoire Alexandre

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Yuima Nakazato in Paris: Digital Couture Revolutionizes Fashion

The mystical haute couture presentation in Paris created by Yuima Nakazato, showing his vision for the future of a couture for all. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou

Japanese fashion designer Yuima Nakazato is part of a new generation of avant-garde couturiers showing on Paris' official haute couture schedule. This season, he presented a collection made entirely with his new technology creating digital couture that allows custom-designed clothes to be accessible to everybody, Jeanne-Marie Cilento writes. Reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

Designer Yuima Nakazato with his
digital couture clothes
NUMINOUS and otherworldly it may have been, but Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato's show in Paris, presented a revolutionary new technique that could make couture clothes available to all. The couturier has created a digital technology which could change fashion with made-to-measure clothes for people around the world. An informative film like a 1950s British documentary explained the concept and then showed 21st century holographic forms with runway models wearing the clothes appearing in a darkened space with mystical music, enhancing the sense of the dawn of a futuristic age. He purposely altered the format of the traditional runway show, that usually takes only a few minutes, to a longer presentation that included film, music, models and mannequins. Nakazato wanted guests to have a more intimate connection to the designs and ideas behind the collection. "I used to do a lot of costume design and I still do a lot of design for the stage and recording artists," Nakazato explains. "Working and communicating with them directly and designing a piece just for them. When these artists wear my designs they are always very happy. It is quite different to designing something for mass production. I wanted to give this experience of having a uniquely designed piece to everyone." But the designer says the big question was "how" to do this.

"I wanted to give this experience of having a uniquely designed piece to everyone"

"Obviously haute couture is very expensive and mass production is very cheap. And the customer cannot communicate to the designer. So I thought technology could provide a solution and help realise my idea. So that was the staring point. When I design clothes I want to see people happy wearing them and enjoying life. Haute couture is the best design but as that is not possible for everyone, it is my aim to find a solution." Nakazato says his new technique is a breakthrough discovery in fashion technology. He uses a digital technique that creates a system where clothes are adaptable and grow with you ~ upwards or outwards ~ and that can incorporate wearable devices, be easily fixed and even be passed down to and adapted to your children. It sounds like the ultimate in sustainable dressing.

Riveted squares of digitally cut fabrics
 that make up Nakazato's new designs
"I feel couture is the future of fashion," Nakazato says. "This technology is sustainable, so if your body changes you can customise the clothes or if you damage some part of it you can just change it ~ so you don't just throw it away. The clothes become like another skin and you can even give it to your daughter, just changing the design and size." This digital haute couture uses 3D techniques to produce garments for every type and shape of body. The nine different designs shown by Nakazato in Paris, were all created with digitally cut squares of fabric. Instead of a traditional fitting where the body is measured, the wearer is scanned through a device before numbered squares of digitally cut fabrics are riveted together to form a perfectly fitting piece. His new 1950s-inspired collection includes evening dresses and a version of Dior's classic Bar suit as well as jeans and a leather jacket ~ all created with digitally-cut squares of fabric. Nakazato said the major breakthrough was finding a way to use everyday fabrics like cotton, nylons and wool which are difficult to control using digital fabrication.

 "That was the most difficult part," he says. "But in the end we succeeded. We can design every type and shape of garment to be a precise fit to the wearer's figure. Digital fabrication is very useful mainly for PVC, rubber or plastic. But I wanted to use traditional fabrics and although these are hard to control using digital tools we found a way of doing it."

"Mass customisation is possible because my team have removed the major constraint of using needles and thread"

Custom-made clothes, particularly haute couture, are out of reach for most people. But Nakazato argues his technology would change that: “We want to create a world where everyone can have tailor-made garments. Mass customisation is possible because my team have removed the major constraint of using needles and thread." The designer has developed the technique in Japan with engineers, 3D designers and sculptors so clothes can be adjusted to be a precise fit to the wearer's figure.

"With this system we are now able to build all silhouettes imaginable," Nakazato says. "It is like creating a garment from a dress pattern but with even more flexibility." The designer has been working for six months on the new 3D clothes-making technique using natural materials like cotton and wool plus nylons. While the designer admitted that his work was very much at the experimental stage, he insisted that "future mass customisation" is possible. "There is still a lot of work by hand in putting the clothes together," Nakazato explains. "It is like technology and craftsmanship put together." The designer says that aesthetically his digital creations still had a long way to go to reach the perfection of classic haute couture which must be made by hand.

For his latest collection, Nakazato wanted to combine his new way of constructing textiles with the past so that they melded together. "We have a long term vision for the future as we develop and show the evolution each season," Nakazato says. "For this collection I chose the 1950s as the theme, which is an interesting era for me, because it is a very strong period for haute couture after the second world war. Couture gave a lot of energy to people with its elegance and drama. At the same time, the post-war era was also the starting point of mass production for jeans and bomber jackets. It is interesting that these things that are totally different but happened at the same time. "

"We have a long term vision for the future and we develop and show the evolution each season"

Yuima Nakazato with a bomber jacket
 and fitted coat using his new technology
The designer began to be interested in fashion as a student because at his high school in Japan they could choose to wear whatever they wanted, unlike most Japanese schools where a uniform is de rigueur. "I liked looking at fashion magazines ~ there was no Internet then ~ so we were reading magazines and seeing the "street snaps," a very typically Japanese part of culture with pictures of people standing on the street which I really liked." But he decided that fashion would be his career after seeing the first Japanese designers graduating from the Royal Academy Antwerp in 2002. "I saw their graduate collections in the newspaper and they looked so colourful and interesting I was shocked. Seeing these designs changed me dramatically and inspired me to go into the fashion world more deeply and immediately I decided to do Antwerp's fashion degree as well."

Nankazato's show included film, music, models
and mannequins 
Today, when Nakazato is designing a new collection he begins with with key words and a story as a starting point, afterwards he begins the research. "For this collection, I spoke to many different people including sculptors, architects and engineers to get inspiration and knowledge," He says."Afterwards, I shared it with the rest of the team and we started the research together, studying materials and textiles. But the vision and story is the most important part and then finding solutions with digital fabrication, 3D printers and stories from history." But ultimately the designer is looking for a way of creating fashion design that makes people feel happier. "That is why I would like the clothes of the future to all be unique and different as I think that makes everyone feel good. Right now we have to wear mass produced clothes because of the cost. But that is all changing with this new technology and it makes for a very interesting moment in fashion."

Tap on photographs for full-screen slideshow
Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato with his new creations in Paris
A model wearing Nakazato's digital couture dress
Guests at the Yuima Nakazato show take a closer look at his revolutionary new system of making unique garments
After Nakazato's haute couture show, guests examine the clothes on mannequins
A striking denim and pink gown made using Nakazato's technique of digitally-cut squares of fabric that fit the body
Leather riveted ensemble of trousers and jacket created with Nakazato's new technology
Elegant, fitted dress that seems both contemporary and related to Dior's New Look all made with Nakazato's digital technology
Fitted jacket and trousers created using designer Yuima Nakazato's riveted technique: "When I design clothes I want to see people happy wearing them and enjoying life."
Bomber jacket and longer tops on mannequins after the runway show. Today, when Nakazato is designing a new collection he begins with with key words and a story as a starting point, afterwards he begins the research. 
Detail of the riveted jeans and pink squares showing Nakazato's technique
 "I feel couture is the future of fashion," Nakazato says. "This technology is sustainable, so if your body changes you can customise the clothes or if you damage some part of it you can just change it ~ so you don't just throw it away."
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