The Creation of Passion, Dignity and a Romance
Yumi Katsura, who established a fashion label, YUMI KATSURA, specializing in bridal fashion, has been hosted shows of her "YUZEN" series at Paris couture fashion week. Toshikazu Iwaya, who is known as the founder of "DRESSCAMP", was assigned as a creative director of this brand. We had a opportunity to interview with these two pioneers.
ーCould you tell us about YUMI KATSURA a bit. How had it began? What did you go through?
YUMI KATSURA(KATSURA): 52 years ago, I opened a first YUMI KATSURA store as a pioneer bridal salon in Japan. It would be a long story if I told you everything about our journey, but what is really clear is that we have taken much of Japanese mentality, such as dignity, faith, and romanticism. Specializing bridal fashion, I have been always thinking that I want to keep making romantic and dreamy pieces from the beginning of my career. In 1981, we expanded the market to the United States. Shortly after that, we opened a store in Paris. From 2001, we held a show in Paris for the first time. And that was the moment we launched a new brand, YUZEN with a store in Paris. What made this store apart from our previous salons was, that YUZEN was specializing couture wearings.
ー"友禅"(YUZEN) is not only the name of the brand, but its concept at the same time. What does it means to you?
KATSURA: Creativity is the most important thing that is required as one of the brands in Paris, where a numerous number of fashion labels get gathered from all over the world. I used to be asking myself "what can I do here as a Japanese?" and YUZEN was the answer that I reached. Before I came up with the idea, I have designed dresses which were made from 和紙(washi, a type of Japanese traditional paper). Those pieces caught people's attention with the name, WASHI MODE. But unfortunately, WASHI MODE style could not be suitable for daily outfits. I was struggling until I realize how much potential there is in 友禅(YUZEN, a traditional Japanese dyeing technique for fabrics). I had a confidence that world will be surprised at the color which a Japanese traditional method only can create. Today, it became quite rare for Japanese to wear kimono in our daily life. While the skill of YUZEN methods are getting spoiled, I thought it is worth to telling people around the world that how appealing it is. I wanted to create something new combining YUZEN methods and the skills we already have.
ーThen you started to collaborate with Mr. Iwaya.
KATSURA: When it confirmed that we would launch pieces with YUZEN methods, I thought I needed to be given some advices from him about YUZEN. We have know each other before that, and I was sure that he has prominent sense of color and textile which is crucial for our new creation. It has been 4 years since it started. We will hold a show on January 2018, and it will have been the 8th season.
TOSHIKAZU IWAYA(IWAYA): I used to designed bridal dresses for the other brand. And I think there were already something in common between us from the beginning.
ーMr. Iwaya, could you tell us about yourself?
IWAYA: It has been 15 years since I started a career as a designer. 15 years ago, I launched my label, DRESSCAMP, and from that point, I have been keep on my creations.
KATSURA: We have been created our products being inspired from legendary Japanese painters, such as Korin Ogata and Jakucyu Ito. When we pick motifs that we got caught our attention, we often choose something similar or exactly the same thing. I think there is a kind of similarity between us in terms of sense.
2017-18 Autumn Winter Haute Couture Collection
ーDo you think how YUZEN changed in these 4 years?
IWAYA: From my personal observation, the more I work on creation for this brand, the more I gain knowledges about Japanese traditional techniques, which is amazing. Without doubts, that helps me a lot to explore my skills as a designer.
KATSURA: YUZEN is a couture brand. So if I can be very picky, I would like to create all dresses with manual labor in all processes, to be honest. Meanwhile, I would like everyone wears our dresses to let them know how beautiful Japanese products are. No matter how good dresses we sell, it means nothing if no one wears. Besides expensive but gorgeous pieces, we also creates affordable items. We are taking balanced.
ーYou launched men's wears collection. That was great.
KATSURA: We used to only had a women's collection. Last year, a male model who watched our show in Paris said to me "I want to try it! Don't you have launched men's collection?" That encouraged me to add menswear's pieces on the next season.
ーPlease tell us about your coming collection in January.
KATSURA: The main concept will be Hokusai Katsushika. The next season's collection might be a compilation of what we have done in these 4 years, I would say. Every seasons we have shows in Tokyo as well. And I bet the next show in Tokyo will also be special.
IWAYA: We used to been focusing on Japanese painters, but next collection will be different. We will highlight not only Hokusai Katsushika but also some European painters who inspired by his works. Hence, there is a integration of East and West. What is the most astonishing is we use manual YUZEN drawings and Nishijin weavings.
ーThis is the last question. How do you want to develop YUZEN?
IWAYA: I want to let people aware that such a brand which has long history in Japanese fashion industry experiments new creation using Japanese traditional method. What we need to achieve this goal is just keep going it.
KATSURA: I feel so glad to see Japanese people wear our products when they stand in front of crowds in a very international scene. For example, Ms.Yuriko Koike was wearing a light green cape coat which I designed at the closing ceremony of Rio 2016 Paralympic. That was really touching. I hope that many more Japanese people come to choose our clothes to be dressed in when they have opportunities to be in public oversea. In addition, observing the current fashion trend that in general, people tend to prefer revealing clothes, I want to keep showing our products with dignity to the world.
A designer of a bridal fashion label, YUMI KATSURA. After graduating from Kyoritsu Women's University,
Yumi moved to Paris. In 1964, Katsura opened the first bridal salon ever established in Japan.
She has hold fashion shows in more than 30 cities around the world before.
Besides her career as a designer, she has been invited a number of bridal events
and that is why she is called 'The Need of Bridal'.
Born in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture.
After Toshikazu finished men's fashion design course at Bunka Fashion College,
he launched his own label DRESSCAMP in 2002. From 2012,
he was assigned as a creative director of YUMI KATSURA.
Text : Yuya Uchida / Erina Sakata
Translation : Makoto Kikuchi
Photo : Koki Inoue
YUMI KATSURA 2018AW Haute Couture Collection