After years of learning to make clothing on his own, Yuima entered the Fashion Course of Belgiumʼs Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts at eighteen. Returning to Japan upon graduation, he founded the womenʼs fashion label, "YUIMA NAKAZATO" . He has since, continued to present his works mainly in Paris, while creating order-made designs for recording artists. From 2010, he has also started a menswear line.
1985 Born in Tokyo, Japan. / 2004 Entered the Fashion Course at Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. / 2008 Upon completing the Masters Course of the Royal Academy, his Final Presentation was awarded the Innovation Award by Ann Demeulemeester. Furthermore, his shoe designs were recognized also, and have been put into the Antwerp Mode Museum (MoMu) for permanent preservation. Among the many awards he has received in Europe, is the Vertice Award from the DIESEL sponsored, International Talent Support (ITS) Fashion Competition held in Italy. / 2009 Begins order-made designs for celebrities and recording artists in and out of Japan. Works include, a costume for Fergie, of the Black Eyed Peas worn for their World Tour and LADY GAGAʼs costume for a performance in Japan. Received the YKK Award at the ITS Accessories Competition in Italy. / 2010 YUIMA NAKAZATO menʼs collection presented on the runway at Tokyo. / 2011 Featured on "V magazine", as Nicola Formichettiʼs nomination for future talents, the next upcoming designer.
After graduating from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, Yuima Nakazato launched his own brand in 2009. He also designs costumes for LADY GAGA and other artists both in Japan and abroad. Highly praised even overseas, Yuima Nakazato has been chosen as the “Mercedes-Benz Presents designer” for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week TOKYO 2012-13 A/W at which he will unveil dresses inspired by new Mercedes-Benz vehicles. He will also be holding his own show, which will adorn the opening of the Fashion Week. We interviewed this young designer who continues to pursue the possibilities of fashion without being tied down by existing rules.
Could you tell us about the dresses that you created as the Mercedes-Benz Presents designer?
Nakazato：My theme was on ways to create a relationship among cars, people, and clothing as a fashion designer. When I first saw the vehicle, its elegant body, power, and advanced technology made it look very much like a living creature. From this, I got an image of people and cars coming together. I then replaced the car with a woman, and I continued to imagine what type of person she was and what type of clothes she would wear. I had never looked at a car in this way before, so designing clothes using an automobile as a starting point was a fresh experience.
I think the objective and materials of clothes differ from that of cars. Did you find things in common when designing your creations?
Nakazato：I felt that getting into a car is much like putting on clothes. I have always liked hard materials, and I discovered many ways to directly incorporate expressions of the car’s luster and metallic properties into the clothing. In this sense, it was easy to come up with ideas. I have always liked vehicles as a child, and I remembered I used to imagine different designs for cars as well as clothes.
Please tell me about your own YUIMA NAKAZATO show.
Nakazato：I can’t go into details yet, but I’ve been conceptualizing the show for more than a year now. The inspiration came from communities called nudist colonies that exist all over the world. Imagining an almost miraculous world of peace from these places where people live in nudity was the start of my creations. I designed my creations from the concept of fusing the place where I live, Tokyo, with this imaginary utopia.
How do you feel about unveiling a show in Tokyo?
Nakazato：I began studying fashion in Antwerp, so I am strongly aware of and influenced by Europe, even to this day. At the same time, I am currently based in Japan, and I strongly feel the importance of spreading my wings here at home by developing teamwork with the people that support production, including material manufacturing and processes at the factory, and with the people that support my shows, as well as relationships with the customers. If I can balance my activities in both Asia and Europe and create good relationships, I think it will lead to my further development in the future.
What did the four years spent at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp mean to you?
Nakazato：Antwerp is different from Tokyo in that it is small and laid-back. When I started studying fashion, I had a lot of time to be introspective, which created the basis of my designs. At the time I really wanted to study ladies wear. I was really interested in the decorative elements, the way clothes hung on the body, and the structural aspects of ladies wear. Since then, I have wanted to eventually incorporate these aspects into menswear.
I feel that these sensations of ladies wear are incorporated into the menswear you create.
Nakazato：Yes. I started making clothes because there was no existing menswear that I wanted to put on. This is a huge driving force for me even today. When I became strongly interest in fashion in high school, I used to buy ladies wear and remake it to fit me.
So, that was the environment behind your creations that create such a stir in the existing fashion and menswear world?
Nakazato：Perhaps. The unique ancient culture of Japanese men captured ambiguity towards gender as sacred. I think this is what has led to modern Japanese fashion and it’s this that I have a great interest in. I think this sense of values will also become an important element in the future of men’s fashion. I also think I had a huge influence from being raised by my parents, who are very open to things, to be my own person.
From 2011 S/S debut collection
Is there a different side of you that comes into play when designing clothing for artists, which you also do?
Nakazato：Designing clothes for people who express more of their personality and are looking for something different than the rest of us makes my heart dance. I also get a lot of ideas from speaking with the artists. I can apply these ideas to my own brand, allowing me to create even better things from this mutual relationship.
Simultaneously engaging in creations with different vectors, as you do, may be a very effective approach to the today’s world that seems to be proceeding in a bipolar manner.
Nakazato：It may be so, but it’s not like. I’m trying to be conscious of the state of the market. I have rather looked at how I should be and what I can do in my own growth process. I have repeated what I learned in Antwerp about being introspective, and the result is how I am today.