For Paris-based Japanese Couturier Junko Shimada, channeling strong vibes of vibrancy and optimism has always been the game plan for her.
Her clothes are fun and youthful that stay true to her signature cheeky style – and that’s what we have always liked about her.
The couturier who was in town last week to present her Spring/Summer 2013 collection at Fidé Fashion Week’s Japan Couture Evening 2012 showed an unconventional yet incredibly unique side of couture in her creations.
Titled ‘A Scent of the Orient’, watching the collection unfold on the runway is very much like a trip down to the Oriental alleys and streets, where culture remains the focal point and every other details just pin-point to that direction.
Filled with iridescent silk blouses, repetitive tribal patterned prints, and a huge input of sewing techniques such as ruching, pin-tucks and even an effervescent insertion of frills along necklines and even hemlines, the collection sure has gotten that extra vivaciousness of the Orient bubble!
What is also notably iconic about the collection is that it is absolutely not shy about the colour palette of the clothes- from shocking pink to energetic orange to coral blues that seems to ignite the artistic soul. This collection, for one, is clearly evident that you can dress in the same colour from head-to-toe and look extremely chic, if not, confident!
Of course, how can we ever forget those tongue-in-cheek platform clogs with fronts that curve to the skies? Headlined as one of the most catchy items to catch in Junko’s collection, the shoes added humour to the vibrant ensemble. Looking closer, the influences from the Middle East are evident in the exquisite embroidery and stitching that makes up the front details of the shoes.
The broken hat, also known as a turban is also another statement accessory of the collection. It is seen on almost every models in her show and need we say, it is also Middle East-inspired!
From Oriental to Middle East to mish-mash of delectable colours, Junko Shimada has indeed proven that age will never be a deterrence to the fun of dressing up, making this collection a significant celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of her brand.
We managed to speak to the legendary couturier Junko Shimada herself just right before her showcase at the backstage of Fidé Fashion Weeks’ tent in this interview:
What does fashion means to you?
Junko Shimada: “Fashion to me is all about the passion. It comes from the heart and it is only with that, that the greatest fashion can be created.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Junko Shimada: “I get my inspirations mostly from my daily life. For example, even when I am walking down the streets and I see something that strike my attention, I would get my ideas.”
What are some of your favourite fabrics to work with and why? And what are your favourite colours?
Junko Shimada: “I like working with muslin, silk, line and cotton, more of the natural fabrics. As for colours, I love all colours!”
What do you like best about designing clothes?
Junko Shimada: “When I feel down, I would try to create a new colour that’s very vivid for my collection and it makes my heart beat.
And not forgetting, patterns which has the ability to make me happy when I’m down and also to motivate & uplift my spirits. And I think that’s really what makes me love about designing clothes.”
You currently reside in Paris. How does the city’s fashion in Paris influence your designs?
Junko Shimada: “My design influences are not from the city’s fashion, but rather, from my imagination. Sometimes maybe it might even come from the movie or cinema. Basically it can come from anywhere, in the form of many ideas!”
What do you think of French Couture in comparison to Japan Couture?
Junko Shimada: “In Japan, there are very, very few couturiers as compared to Paris where there is a wide number of haute couturiers and their creations are very much higher-priced.
That is because in my country, there are fewer rich clients who are able to afford couture gowns.”
Share with us on your showcasing collection. What are some of the key pieces in your current collection?
Junko Shimada: “The main thing has got to be the fact that we used a lot of colours!
Apart from that, smocking is a technique that I have used. It is a key look in this collection and is made to envision a young lady. It is also suitable for young children, so basically it promotes youthfulness and that’s what I like about it.
I also like organdy, which I’ve used to create a sense of oriental style. Alongside, I’ve also included some standout accessories such as the broken hats and the platform clog shoes. They may be simple but they are exciting in terms of cultural and oriental.
And really to me, there is no perfect collection. Perfect is boring, so what I really want to create in this show are the elements of humour and something grandeur that can be accents to collection.”
Which was your most memorable show?
Junko Shimada: “That would definitely have to be the show for my first collection. It was held in Paris.”
And do you have a favourite piece from your first collection?
Junko Shimada: “The men’s shirt! I like it very much, especially since it’s with stripes patterns, which are very sexy to me.
I actually made the whole collection with stripes; there were sexy jackets, shirts, suits and trenchcoats, and they are all made from the same material – stripe patterned cotton and it’s a wonderful quality. And the overall pretty much channels the 50s – 60s era.”
I’ve noticed that you have, in fact, one striped suit in this current collection!
Junko Shimada: “Yes, with this suit jacket and pants, it’s actually a revisit to my first collection and also to the very famous French painter Eugene Delacroix who lived in the late 1700+ till 1800+.
Delacroix’s works were very characterized by the painting of rich decorated and tiled walls, plus even mosaic floors and textiles which he was inspired to create after he was back from his six-month trip in Morocco.
So there, my striped shirt and pants suits were inspired by the richness of patterns from his works.”
The Couture Troopers team with the lovely and ever-cheerful Junko Shimada!
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers?
Junko Shimada: “I think that all aspiring fashion designers should first envision about the future of how he or she wants to be a strong designer. But before he or she does that, it’s important to start with the basics first, just like a pianist, always start with the basics and that’s the most important thing.
Fashion designers do not just design, they do everything. From right down to the concept to the sourcing to the production, all the way to the end product, and of course, you must have the passion to see through everything because magic simply don’t exist.
It’s basically all about hard work, having good taste and following your heart.”
.Text: Jessica Ye Dialogue & Photos: Felly Loi