Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Cosmos & Nature in Haute Couture: Neo-Futurist Yuima Nakazato

Shimmering, holographic origami with transparent, faux arms at Yuima Nakazato's innovative presentation in Paris. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou
Inspired by the cosmos and nature, neo-futurist Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato showed for the first time as a guest at Paris Haute Couture this year. The designer's shimmering, otherworldly collection of holographic origami gleamed from the darkness in the depths of the Palais De Tokyo, creating kinetic architectural sculptures, writes our special Paris correspondent Elli Ioannou

Glimmering, kinetic architectural designs
EXISTENTIALISM, altruism, mysticism, science and philosophy are not subjects often tackled in works of fashion. But recent collections by innovative designers are expressing a new approach to the creative process, exploring new and deeper meanings in their work. Often the clothes are not separate from the human form but rather an extension of the body, like a second skin. Many of these ideas are at the heart of Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato’s work presented at his AW16/17 haute couture show in Paris. The designer says the cosmos, future, and nature are all key to his exploration of fashion.

 Iridescent, shimmering colours inspired by Iceland
Descending three flights of stairs into the belly of Paris' Palais de Tokyo for Nakazato's first haute couture show, there is art graffiti covering the walls and it feels like entering the dim internal sanctum of a modern-day pyramid. A trianglular shaped motif runs through Yuima Nakazato's presentation, beginning with the fluid runway's shape: two yellow-taped lines converging into an incomplete 'V' marking the areas where guests stand. Dramatic blue lighting in the industrial space of polished concrete, frames stairs at either end. Adjusting to the dark surroundings, guests can just make out the photographers' pit already overflowing and looking more like a human installation under the azure lights. The avant-garde crowd slowly funnels in, some standing behind the yellow lines, while others choose a higher perspective from the stairs and balcony.

 Glassy, vivid make-up created an otherworldly look
The pre-show backdrop feels and looks a lot more like a Berlin club than a Paris haute couture show. The designer's AW16/17 collection is inspired by a recent trip to Iceland and Nakazato creates a powerful otherworldly sense that captures the country's snowy landscape. The holographic textiles are woven origami-like, shimmering under the light, to create kinetic architectural sculptures.The choice of colour palette, including iridescent ice blues, greens and purples and the shape of the garments in an A-line  using 3D technology all add up to a shimmering strangeness. Elongated body proportions reflecting ancient Japanese deities also seem imbued with Avatar–like characteristics.

 Long, faux arms enhanced Nakazato's futuristic collection
The models’ arms were made to appear extra long using blue prosthetic finger extensions while others actually had knee-length glass arms. The seemingly air-brushed make-up suggesting David Bowie's Major Tom, along with the dramatic lighting and the models' robotic motion with glassy-eyed expressions all reinforce Nakazato’s sci-fi inspired world. The models' final stance ends in a symbolic triangle shape.

The future of human existence is a theme explored by both Issey Miyake and Yuima Nakazato, bound by their common thread of Japanese culture. Like Miyake before him, Nakazato is experimenting with the construction of materials using new technology which is at the core of his design process. He wants the couture collection with it's methods and materials to be made available immediately in stores. Nakazato is planning a new system of combining of couture and ready-to-wear which he believes is the future of fashion.



Nakazato has been called a neo-futurist in fashion design, one of the artists and architects who believe in the future of cities, their capacity to offer emotional experiences, experiments with new materials and new technologies to provide a better quality of life. Nakazato's presentation is the first by a Japanese designer at Paris Haute Couture since 2004, as a guest of the Fédération Française de la Couture. A Japanese designer has not been on the event’s official calendar since fashion pioneer Hanae Mori retired 12 years ago. Nakazato is a guest member at the haute couture, an honour only bestowed on up-and-coming artists who have passed a rigorous screening process.


 Designer Yuima Nakazato backstage at his show in Paris
The designer was born in Tokyo 30 years ago and says he learned much about the freedom of expressive art from from his sculptor father and mother, a metal carver. His family home is filled with giant art objects and made a strong contrast to strict Japanese schooling. With artists as parents, Nakazato was surrounded by art from early childhood and he says that the years of seeing and watching his parents' work, performing arts, stage design, and costumes all have influenced his work. Nakazato was the youngest Japanese to graduate from the Fashion Department Master’s Course at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp.

 Avant-garde boots finished the collection
So avant-garde were his shoe designs during his degree show that they were acquired by the Antwerp Mode Museum (MoMu) for their permanent collection. He was also awarded the Innovation Award by Ann Demeulemeester for his graduation collection and won the International Talent Support (ITS) Fashion Competition held in Italy, one of the two largest fashion contests in the world, in 2008 and 2009. The following year, Lady Gaga wore his Black Fire Dress in Japan. After graduating, Nakazato launched his own brand in 2009 and three years later was opening Tokyo Fashion Week.

French Haute Couture is evolving and expanding by acknowledging designers such as Yuima Nakazato who push boundaries in technology, design and culture. The Fédération Française de la Couture is recognizing and fostering emerging talent which offers a new perspective compared to couture collections of the past and provides a thought-provoking antidote to some of the bigger commercial brands more anodyne collections.

Edited by Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Nakazato's teeteringly high boots were one of the highlights of his Paris show 


 Detail of the origami-like construction of one of the shimmering, holographic pieces at the Palais de Tokyo



Yuima Nakazato says his designs are based on three elements: the cosmos, the future and nature. 




The designer won awards for his early work even as a student and has designed a costume for Lady Gaga and other singers


 Nakazato uses new technology and traditional Japanese craftsmanship to create his work


The designers shoes are already in the permanent collection of Antwerp's Museum of Modern Art



French haute couture is evolving and expanding by acknowledging designers such as Yuima Nakazato who push boundaries in technology, design and culture.


The designer was born in Tokyo 30 years ago and says he learned much about the freedom art offered from his sculptor father and metal carver mother. 


Backstage in Paris dressing a model for the AW16/17 presentation


In the belly of the Palais de Tokyo, guests wait for the show to begin 


The guests at the show in Paris all had their own colourful style
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