Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Paris Haute Couture: Yuima Nakazato's Home Brew

In Paris, an elegantly subversive design by Yuima Nakazato, showing that sustainable fashion doesn't have to be dull. Cover picture and main photograph (above) by Elli Ioannou for DAM
One of the highlights of Paris Haute Couture Week is Yuima Nakazato's experimental collections. The designer brings a new approach to fashion, challenging the way we think of dress and creating revolutionary new fabrics from unusual sources, including this Autumn/Winter 2019-2020 season's brewed protein, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Additional reporting and photographs by Elli Ioannou

Yuima Nakazato's AW1920 couture collection at
Paris' Descartes University.
JAPANESE couturier Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde fashion designers who don't just myopically experiment with style but have a radical manifesto and vision for what we will be wearing in the future. His collections are intellectual and full of new ideas that see fashion as central to art and life, not just the quotidian reality of having to dress every day.

The young couturier wants to change the nature of the materials used to create fashion and democratise haute couture so it is still highly individual yet available to everybody. Instead of seeing haute couture as so rarefied it is always under threat of extinction, due to the enormous skill and cost to produce each collection, Nakazato sees it as the future of fashion.

Although some of his ideas may seem outlandish, they stimulate a new way of thinking about the way we dress and how our clothes are made.

Nakazato strives to look at the big picture, he says he wants to realise "a new vision for humanity" through clothes. His designs are made from plant-derived sustainable materials, representing an important step away from current widespread reliance on petroleum-based resources.

Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde designers who don't just experiment with style but have a radical manifesto for the future

For the new collection, entitled Birth, Nakazato has experimented with a new textile created from a substance called 'brewed protein', a sustainable fibre made by a fermentation process developed by Japanese biotech start-up Spiber. The fabrics in the collection use this cutting edge technology combined with an unexpected artisanal method ~ hand-knitting.

Backstage the designer adjusts
a model before the show
The textiles are created by digitally fabricating the specially-designed protein. Nakazato is creating a variety of different materials from this substance. He believes innovations in materials and technology are the direction in which haute couture should be moving.

For this Autumn/Winter 2019-20 collection, the designer created long, swinging shift dresses, separates with the riveted design developed in previous seasons, and athletic outerwear. The snap-closing he has created means clothes can be adaptable not only to the wearer's size and form but to their mood.

"Eventually, each and every garment will be unique and different,"  Nakazato explains. He has been exploring this concept through the prism of haute couture since 2016, when he began showing in Paris.

This season, the palette is a subtle mix of creams and browns with dashes of red. This was meant as a metaphor for the range of human skin colours but also with red as the underlying hue representing the blood that runs through us all. Because the brewed protein used to make the materials is made from amino acids it almost feels like the fabric is a natural part of the body, not a separate piece of clothing.

The fibre that makes up the fabric can be used as a thread and was made into crocheted capes and tops for the collection. As a blend with cotton it can make a more traditional textile or be used as a leather substitute for shoes.

His designs are made from plant-derived sustainable materials, representing an important step away from petroleum-based resources


 The colour palette of the show symbolises
the hues of the human body
As its production doesn't rely on petroleum, brewed protein is biodegradable and could offer a sustainable solution for the fashion industry. Ecologically-minded apparel manufacturers are moving away from micro plastics and animal-derived materials. Protein-based polymer materials are energy efficient, environmentally friendly and economic to produce.

Protein biopolymers are part of the building blocks of life, formed from different types of amino acids. Brewed protein refers to structural proteins which have been designed or selected from an almost limitless pool of possible amino acid combinations, and then produced via a microbial fermentation process. This proprietary technology, created by Spiber, allows for the creation of a hugely diverse range of such proteins, each with different features.

Before the show, as guests under the
beautiful windows of the
Descartes University
Nakazato has developed his new clothing production system during earlier collections, one not constrained by using a traditional needle and thread. Instead, Nakazato uses specially-designed clasps to connect fabric pieces. Called Type-1, it allows the wearer to quickly assemble, customise, and repair their own clothes.

The Paris Descartes University was used as the location for Yuima Nakazato's latest collection, with its cool, grey 18th century arcades and classical busts. The designer says he wanted the "gentle natural light that pours into the entrance," providing the backdrop that he had visualised as it was "perfectly suited to discussions regarding the future of mankind and clothing."

A sculpture called "Goldrain" was part of the show, showering down find gold particles, and based on the concept of the regeneration of the Earth. This rain of gold, along with the basin below, have an otherworldly beauty. Contemporary Japanese artist, Eugene Kangawa, has been developing the installation since 2018. The gold fragments are so fine they are affected by small movements of air or light.

Nakazato strives to look at the big picture, he says he wants to realise 'a new vision for humanity' through fashion


The golden basin of the Goldrain art installation
by Eugene Kangawa
Goldrain and Nakazato's new show share a common exploration of rebirth and hope and the new protein material he is using, has a white gold colour like the particles. The installation also symbolises the process for creating this new material, which is born through the mixture of particles and liquid. This is the same production process as making the brewed protein, where a powder is combined with water to generate a material.

The shimmering, miniscule specks of Goldrain combine to veil the surface of water and turn it into a glistening expanse. The falling fragments in this installation are meant to evoke rain and a sense of the birth of land, sea, and life, symbolising Nagazako's 'Birth' collection and its vision of a new type of haute couture for the people.

Tap on photographs for fullscreen slideshow
A sculpture called "Goldrain" was the poetic backdrop to the show, showering down find gold particles, and based on the concept of the regeneration of the Earth.
Yuima Nakazato is one of the rare avant-garde fashion designers who don't just experiment with style but have a radical manifesto and vision for what we will be wearing in the future.



The fabrics in the collection use cutting edge technology combined with an unexpected artisanal method ~ hand-knitting.


Nakazato has developed his new clothing production system during earlier collections, called Type-1, it allows the wearer to quickly assemble, customise, and repair their clothes.

This season, the palette is a subtle mix of creams and browns with dashes of red. This was meant as a metaphor for not only the range of skin colours of the human race but also red as the underlying hue as it represents the blood that runs through us all.

Not constrained by using a traditional needle and thread, Nakazato uses specially-designed clasps to connect fabric pieces.


The young couturier wants to change the nature of the materials used to create fashion and democratise haute couture so it is still highly individual yet available to everybody.

For the new collection, entitled Birth, Nakazato has experimented with a new textile created from a substance called "brewed protein," a sustainable fibre made by a fermentation process.
Rather than seeing haute couture as so rarefied it is always under threat of extinction, due to the enormous skill and cost to produce each collection, Nakazato sees it as the future of fashion.