Saturday 8 July 2023

Paris Fashion Feature: Design and Destiny in Yuima Nakazato's AW 2923-24 Haute Couture Collection

Feathery creations made from fabric, with no wastage, and hand-made ceramic jewellery designed by Yuima Nakazato and shown in Paris. Cover picture and main photograph above by Elli Ioannou. 

The fusion of futuristic technology and craftsmanship is at the heart of Yuima Nakazato's groundbreaking new haute couture collection. Drawing inspiration from his transformative journey through Kenya last year, the designer was profoundly moved by the sight of mountains of garbage, starkly juxtaposed against the raw beauty of the African landscape. Reporting by Antonio Visconti. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photography by Elli Ioannou, Andrea Heinsohn, Patrick Marion and Anna Nguyen

Called Magma, Yuima Nakazato's 
atmospheric haute couture show. 
Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Yuima Nakazato's new collection is another creative exploration of his experiences in Kenya, highlighting the urgent need for environmental consciousness and reimagining fashion's role in contributing to a better future. 

The epiphany the Japanese designer had in Africa about the scale of textile waste was examined, through a different lense, in last season's collection too. 

Nakazato is challenging traditional notions of producing fashion and encouraging conservation and social change. The designer's 14th collection was presented in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo with an atmospheric show in a darkened space with suggestive hovering black "clouds" and a brilliant, red-lit floor covered in Nakazato's print of the piles of abstracted garbage that looked like a fiery landscape. 

The first few minutes of the show were silent, except for the evocative clinking of the designer's hand-made, ceramic jewellery, worn like elegant sashes slung across one shoulder, and falling to the waist. A mesmerizing soundtrack was introduced that added to the sombre yet beautiful presentation. 

Nakazato is challenging traditional notions of producing fashion, highlighting the urgent need for conservation and social change

The clinking, red ceramic jewellery 
made by the designer. 
Photograph: Anna Nguyen
Inspired by ornaments worn by African tribes, the jewellery is made of thousands of ceramic pieces, each hand made by Yuima Nakazato in his atelier. These were then crocheted together with bright-red twine to form what the designer calls "acoustic ceramic dresses," creating the ethereal sound at the beginning of the Paris presentation. 

The red ceramic pieces made a striking contrast to the silky, black designs created by the designer's revolutionary Type-1 construction, where the garments are riveted together rather than sewn with a needle and thread. These fluid, draped pieces were like wearable staples amid the more dramatic, conceptual designs.  

Larger, jewellery pieces like abstracted exoskeletons and oyster shells were worn with long, dark capes and tunics, making a strong visual statement. 

Ankle-length skirts, dustcoats and the suspended ceramic pieces, some like lilies curling around the neck, kept to the tripartite palette: black, red and white. Diaphanous prints in black and white provided a lighter and airier note to the tenebrous ambiance. 

A crinkled, strapless gown, the colour of parched earth, and a ruched jacket in the form of a Renaissance doublet, were made with a textile that had a three-dimensional affect. Brilliant red prints made by Nakazato of conceptual images of garbage were on flowing robes and highlighted against black. Some were like tribal robes or flung over the shoulder, like contemporary urban warriors walking across the desert. 

Inspired by ornaments worn by African tribes, the jewellery is made of thousands of ceramic pieces, each hand-made by Yuima Nakazato in his atelier

The voluminous yet airy and light concoction
in faux feathers. Photograph: Patrick Marion
A feathery, voluminous concoction in white with a large, sculptural neckpiece added an otherworldly note of drama along with the sparkling eyeshadow drawn across the forehead. 

Shimmering in deep reds, another striking design with faux feathers above a ruched skirt was like an exotic bird. with sparkling red across the brow.

Leaving no wastage of material, the feather like pieces of fabric were cut out with no material remaining from the roll.  

As a counterpoint to the distinctive red and black looks were romantic gowns with rippling fabric gathered and cinched at the waist by large, ceramic sculptural buckles and with attenuated reds becoming white, on long skirts. 

Looking like a young chieftain, a model with a bare chest except for a totemic necklace and diaphanous feathered cape in red with a white stripe, made another connection with the African landscape.

A feathery, voluminous concoction in white with a large. sculptural neckpiece added an otherworldly note of drama 

The 3D textile created using brewed 
protein fabric and digital printing. 
Photograph: Anna Nguyen 
The flower-like confection of look 29 was created using Yuima Nakazato's "brewed protein" fabric made by Japan's Spiber Inc, that he has experimented with in other collections, and which shrinks when in contact with water. 

An extraordinary three-dimensional textile is created from a rectangular piece of fabric by controlling the shrinkage with digital printing technology. 
 
As noted by the designer, his travels in Kenya, did affect his creative vision over the past two haute couture seasons. The scale of the waste he encountered left an indelible mark on his consciousness, including the hellish images of fires amid plastic trash and noxious odors. 

It was like a bleak portrayal of the end of the world, leaving the designer with a desire to not only evoke change but feeling compelled to find a way to reimagine the landscape's ugliness and transform it into something meaningful with this new collection. 
 
"The shocking experiences I had during my 2022 visit to Kenya still remain vivid in my mind to this day" he explains. "Among the many memories I have of that time, the mountains of garbage I saw are particularly hard to forget. The spontaneous flames, the reeking odors, the garish colors of the plastic trash ~ it seemed like the end of the world, and it left my head spinning." 

"The shocking experiences I had during my 2022 visit to Kenya still remain vivid in my mind to this day."

The "awful scenery" which Nakazato transformed
into an abstract landscapte for this fiery red print.
Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn
His memories of the experience are deeply ingrained, particularly the haunting images of piles of textile waste which have informed both this collection and last season. 

The new work has subsumed more of his intital shock and he has approached the theme this time in a more philosophical way. 

"I saw a piece by Hokusai commonly known as "Aka-Fuji" at an art gallery," the designers says. "This scene of Fuji recalled to mind thoughts of the magma sleeping within the mountain, and somehow made me aware not only of its beauty, but also of the spooky nature of the landscape as well. 

"Using a photo, I had taken while in Kenya, I graded it all in red and printed it out on a piece of fabric. Suddenly, the awful scenery became abstract, and the mounds of manmade garbage somehow turned into something almost like a landscape. At that moment, I realized that it was possible to reconsider the essential meaning of a thing, thereby endowing it with a new meaning and an entirely different value. " 

"The spontaneous flames, the reeking odors, the garish colors of the plastic trash ~ it seemed like the end of the world, and it left my head spinning." 

Cinched at the waist by sculptural, ceramic
belt buckles, this diaphanous gown has 
a delicate attentuation of red to white.
Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Choosing the color red as a symbol of transformation, Nakazato employs it to express his conviction that there is a path to changing the future. He redefines red as a catalyst for positive change and a call to action. 

"Red usually represents warning or crises," he says. "However, rather than viewing it as an alert to the environmental issues facing us today, I've chosen to put my belief in the color and use it to express my conviction that there is a way for us to change the future." 

Central to the creation of the Magma collection was the recycling of 150kg of used clothing brought back from Africa that he was also able to use in his previous collection. 

The challenge of recycling clothes without proper labels, so the origin and type of material remain unknown, was overcome with Seiko Epson's dry fibre technology. 

Nakazato describes the process as "rescuing clothes that had nowhere else to go," and transforming them into new textiles for the creation of innovative garments. 

With this collection, Nakazato defies conventional fashion norms and empowers the industry to embrace sustainability and social responsibility. By repurposing used clothing, utilizing cutting-edge technologies, and drawing inspiration from nature and cultural heritage.

"I've chosen to put my belief in the color and use it to express my conviction that there is a way for us to change the future." 

The haute couture presentation at the Palais de 
Tokyo in Paris, was enveloping and atmospheric.
Photograph: Patrick Marion
Nakazato challenges the fashion world to adopt a new perspective ~ one that prioritizes the creation of an improved environment through the way garments are designed and produced.

Seiko Epson's digital textile printing technology also played an important role in translating Nakazato's impressions of Africa onto fabric. 

The photographs taken amidst the mountains of garbage became the foundation for installations at the shows, symbolizing Earth's destruction caused by humanity's hand. This expression of devastation serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address these issues. 

To infuse the collection with a sense of authenticity, Nakazato's team ground stones from East Africa's largest desert into nano-size natural pigments. These pigments were then used to dye the synthetic brewed protein materials developed by Spiber Inc, resulting inresonant earthy hues woven into the fabrics. 

Nakazato challenges the fashion world to adopt a new perspective, the creation of an improved environment through the way garments are designed and produced

Designer Yuima Nakazato takes his bow 
at the end of his show in Paris.
Photograph; Anna Nguyen
Like last season, Nakazato drew inspiration from the traditional costumes of tribespeople in Northern Kenya, incorporating their wrapping techniques and reinterpreting fashion's approach to size and gender. 

His latest collection exemplifies the designer's commitment to addressing social issues and driving change through fashion. By transforming used clothing into new textiles, utilizing cutting-edge research, and incorporating elements inspired by Africa's landscapes and tribal history, Nakazato presents a vision of a more hopeful fate for humanity and the planet.

Through his thought-provoking designs and experiments with producing new textiles, Nakazato asks the industry to reevaluate its practices and embrace the power of fashion as a catalyst for  change. 

Highlights of Yuima Nakazato's Haute Couture AW 2023-24 Collection 
Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn


Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou 

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais De Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou


Backstage Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Backstage, detail of the hand-made ceramic jewellery, Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Backstage Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen


Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Patrick Marion


Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Patrick Marion

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou


Detail Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen
Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn
Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Patrick Marion

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24. Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Photograph; Patrick Marion

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Torkyo, Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Yuima Nakazato Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn.


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Thursday 6 July 2023

Paris Fashion Feature: Rahul Mishra Champions Indian Artisans and Traditional Crafts

A soigne haute couture gown with remarkable hand-emboidery was a standout at Rahul Mishra's Autumn/Winter 2023-24 show in Paris. Main picture (above) and cover by Anna Nguyen 

Rahul Mishra cultivates the skills of local communities by employing artisans across rural India. By reimagining luxury from the perspective of his craftspeople, the designer's work is making a difference in the way couture fashion is produced. Determined to elevate Indian crafts and those who make them, he aims to create a harmonious blend of fashion, art, and social responsibility. Reporting by Antonio Visconti. Story by Jeanne-Marie Cilento. Photographs by Elli Ioannou, Andrea Heinsohn and Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra takes his bow at his Paris show
with an artisan working on the runway. 
Photograph: Anna Nguyen
Unveiling his latest haute couture collection in the prodigious courtyard of the Monnaie de Paris, Rahul Mishra dedicated his new work to the unsung heroes of the fashion world. 

The collection, called We, The Peoplecelebrated the exceptional craftsmanship of the artisans and embroiderers who breathe life into his designs, transforming imagination into reality on exquisite fabrics like silk, chiffon, and tulle.

The neo-classical, 18th century Paris Mint with its immense inner concourse hosted two master artisans engrossed in their craft, embroidering intricate landscapes of tigers and flowers, swans and rivers. Their dedication and artistry bringing to life Mishra's designs, inspired by the rich natural beauty of India.

The artisans are part of Mishra's community of craftspeople that he has developed in India, and it is why he dedicated the show to them. His eponymous label is not just about creating striking designs but giving local craft communities skills and work. Mishra is looking at luxury through the lens of his employee's participation rather than only at the end consumption. 

This season, Rahul Mishra celebrated the exceptional craftsmanship of the artisans and embroiderers who breathe life into his designs

Brilliant hues and hand-embroidered
blooms and leaves are signatures of
Rahul Mishra's work. 
Photograph: Anna Nguyen
The essence of Mishra's brand lies in the way it is made with much created by hand-weaving and hand-embroidery. These traditional Indian crafts not only result in unique pieces but also provide sustainable livelihoods for more than a thousand artisans in different parts of India. 

It is through their collective efforts that Mishra's vision takes shape. His commitment to employing rural Indian craftspeople fosters reverse migration, drawing skilled workers back to their roots to preserve and revitalize traditional crafts. 

The expertise exemplified in the new collection, presented at Paris Haute Couture Week, evokes the flamboyance and intricacy that Rahul Mishra's work is known for. 

He says those with more elongated silhouettes were inspired by the Art Nouveau drawings of the Paris-based, Russian artist Erté. In contrast to these more minimal designs were the voluminous creations embellished with petals, bows, and girandoles. 

The designer's commitment to slow fashion is evident in the elaborate hand-made details that adorn each garment, sometimes taking thousands of hours to create.

Amid the bold palette of tropical colours, Mishra's use of black and white created a contrast throughout the collection. The impeccable handiwork, shimmering sequins, and exuberant decorations illustrate the designer's sense of joy and passion for fashion. 

By employing rural Indian craftspeople, the designer fosters reverse migration, drawing skilled workers back to their roots to preserve and revitalize traditional crafts

One of the designer's artisans
at work on his embroidery 
during the haute couture
show in Paris. 
Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Rahul Mishra explains his design philosophy is based around "environment, employment, and empowerment." By embracing slow fashion and sustainable practices, Mishra strives to create a positive impact on both the planet's ecosystem and the lives of artisans. His belief in fashion's power to change lives is evident in his commitment to the community that brings his designs to fruition. 

While his work has garnered acclaim globally, Mishra's own roots remain deeply connected to his simple upbringing in Malhausi, Uttar Pradesh. His journey to success has not been without challenges. 

Yet despite growing up in this small village with limited resources, he discovered his talent for design. But it was his determination to create meaningful change and employ people in rural India which shaped his unique approach to fashion.

Beyond his opulent couture creations, Mishra has also expanded into designing wedding wear which has been a great success after much experimentation with unusual colors rather than just the traditional red. The wedding aspect of his business has been pivotal in sustaining employment for the 1,200 embroiderers working with Mishra. 

By embracing slow fashion and sustainable practices, Mishra strives to create a positive impact on both the environment and the lives of artisans

An intricate design using sequins is created
by Mishra's Indian artisans, sitting on the edge
of the runaway in the vast Monnaie de Paris 
courtyard. Photograph; Anna Nguyen
The demand for his wedding designs is driven by people looking for something distinctive. Mishra still draws inspiration from ancient Indian sources, but his signature use of calico is entirely different to traditional bridal wear. 

This socially conscious approach to fashion proves that even the most lavish events, like weddings, can be a force for good, creating employment opportunities for these talented artisans. It has not only boosted his company but kept many of these embroiderers working. 

The brand's "mindful luxury" ethos is based on creating meaningful employment. Although he dresses celebrities such as Gigi Hadid, Priyanka Chopra and Zendaya, Rahul Mishra remains connected to his Indian roots and committed to making a positive improvements to his employee's lives.

In a fast fashion world often characterized by rapid trends and mass production, the designer stands out for this more sustainable approach. Rahul Mishra made history as the first Indian designer to showcase at the prestigious Paris Haute Couture Week, a feat that not only brought recognition to his label but also shed light on the traditions of Indian crafts he is promoting and supporting.

Although he dresses celebrities such as Gigi Hadid and Zendaya, Mishra remains connected to his Indian roots and committed to positive change in his community

The exquisitely embroidered wedding gown finale
closed the haute couture show in Paris.
Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn 
Rahul Mishra's has made his vision of working with Indian craft communities and embracing sustainable practices viable.

By slowing down the production process and dedicating hours to handcrafting each piece, Mishra fosters deeper worker participation and ultimately creates enchanting pieces that resonate with people. 

As he continues to showcase the beauty of Indian crafts on the global stage, Mishra demonstrates the value of using the power of fashion as a tool for both social change and environmental conservation. 

Highlights from Rahul Mishra's Autumn/Winter 2023-24 Haute Couture Collection in Paris
Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen



Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen
Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou
Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou


Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn 

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn 

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen 

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph; Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Elli Ioannou

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph; Andrea Heinsohn 

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Andrea Heinsohn

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen

Rahul Mishra Haute Couture Collection Autumn/Winter 2023-24, Monnaie de Paris. Photograph: Anna Nguyen


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