If there ever was a field that embodies the boundary between fantasy and reality, it would be couture. Except Japanese designer Yuima Nakazato sees it as an endless territory, not a thin divide.
“The liminal space, the unclear area, between abstract notions like ‘men/women’, ‘East/West’ or fantasy and reality is getting clearer and clearer these days, thanks to science, technology or knowledge. There is hope and possibility in those areas, that’s why I decided to explore them this season,” he said.
With white-clad dancers writhing in the Oratoire du Louvre like embodiments of the smoke from which models of all genders wearing his spring collection emerged, pointy ear ornaments and all, he certainly had the fantasy element down pat.
But the designs themselves hewed closer to reality than recent seasons. Out came coats, tunics and even simple floor-length dresses worn over wide-legged trousers. If one of his proprietary Type-1 snaps could be spotted, it was only because their presence is expected as a Nakazato signature.
Another dichotomy Nakazato had wanted to explore was the one between his futuristic endeavors and the handcrafts of yesteryears. A handful of designs even featured — gasp — seams, despite his focus on assembling clothing without needle and thread in recent years.
He even pointed out that the embroideries on his first few looks had been done in collaboration with an 80-year-old kimono embroidery specialist, who uses a sewing machine to create intricate designs. “This technique is very special but not that many people [use it anymore] because the kimono is disappearing,” he said.
Applying learnings from his bio-smocking experiments to natural-fiber fabrics, he teased volume out of rectangular patterns by pulling gowns into shape by cords. “It’s possible to adjust the size [for] different wearers. So it’s very universal, in keeping our philosophy [of prolonging the life of a garment], but at the same time, the dresses have to have a beautiful shape,” he said.
One divide that is growing increasingly smaller each season? The one between Nakazato’s couture textile wizardry and fashion’s realities — sustainability, inclusivity, desirability.