Wednesday, December 19, 2012

YUMI KATSURA: Exclusive Interview

By Eva Fydrych


Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


As a pioneer of bridal fashion, Yumi Katsura is always at the forefront of the bridal fashion industry. The Japanese designer is staying ahead of the trends, using the most sophisticated textures and colours in her elegant dress collections. Her unique ability to combine Japanese ancient craftsmanship and kimono traditions with modern patterns of the West, brought her numerous national and global fashion awards.

She became the first Asian member of the Haute Couture of Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana, Italy’s most important haute couture establishment and the proprietor of Milan Fashion Week. Her elegant style is known for rich embellishment, luxurious fabric and masterful techniques.

Yumi Katsura showcased her exquisite dresses during Japan Couture Evening 2012 in Singapore last month and we couldn't miss the opportunity to interview one of the world’s most celebrated and influential designers.


YUMI KATSURA

Occupation: Fashion Designer
City: Tokyo

Designer Yumi Katsura (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


FASHION STUDIO: Do you remember your first encounter with fashion?

YUMI: As my mother ran the dress making school, I have been accustomed to fashion since my young days.

FASHION STUDIO: You studied at the prestigious Les Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. What is your most significant memory from that time?

YUMI: We were not able to see real western dresses then. I still remember that my mother often visited former nobilities’ house to see their dresses. I also often visited the dress museum and eagerly watch dresses of Rococo, Baroque and modern times when I was in Paris.

FASHION STUDIO: The first Yumi Katsura Bridal Salon was opened in 1964 in Akasaka, Tokyo. You were a pioneer of bridal fashion. What difficulties did you face in the beginning and how did you overcome them?

YUMI: At that time, only 3% of all couples did bridal ceremony with western wedding dress. Almost all were of Japanese Kimono style. So, no people around me were positive about my wedding business. However, I started to promote western wedding style with my knowledge acquired in Paris and kept it for long time. When you start new things, it takes longer time to be accepted by surroundings than you expected. So, you have to be a person of “never give up”.


Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


FASHION STUDIO: What inspires you?

YUMI: Through all nature around you, I get inspired. For example, from a mountain, an ocean, a forest and a river. 

FASHION STUDIO: How would you compare the fashion scene in Paris and Tokyo? Are there any similarities between both of them?

YUMI: Similarity is elegance. Japanese Kimonos are very elegant, aren’t they? I find western elegance in Paris and eastern or Japanese elegance in Tokyo.

FASHION STUDIO: Which city do you consider most fashionable - Tokyo, Paris or New York?

YUMI: Senior women are most chic in Paris, teens are more exciting in Japan and working women are stylish in New York. Last but not least, I am very much interested in Singapore fashion that has been changing rapidly.


Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


FASHION STUDIO: In 1987, you established the Yumi Katsura Bridal Museum in Kobe. What are the main attractions of the museum?

YUMI: You can see many European traditional wedding dresses collected by me, as I was afraid of disappearing of those traditional dresses and culture. I believe historical culture is very important and it should be preserved.

FASHION STUDIO: In 2005, you opened the Yumi Katsura Paris shop, at 26 Rue Cambon, in front of Chanel boutique. How important is the right store location for the image of your brand?

YUMI: Top brands need suitable places for their shops. Vice versa, good places attract good brands. My shop in Paris is located at the suitable place for my brand. A bit small though.

FASHION STUDIO: What is your personal definition of fashion?

YUMI: Fashion is Silhouette, Design, Material and Details of technique. And fashion should be evaluated as a whole “from top to toe.”


Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


FASHION STUDIO: Which trends would you recommend for Spring/Summer 2013?

YUMI: My theme for the coming year is merge of East and West, and merge of tradition and innovation.

FASHION STUDIO: How would you describe your personal style? What type of clothes do you usually wear?

YUMI: My style is an icon for my brand. In this context, my style belongs not only to me but also to my brand. In daily life, I wear rather relaxing and comfortable clothes that are cozy to wear.

FASHION STUDIO: Who is your style icon?

YUMI: No one in particular.


Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


FASHION STUDIO: In 2008, Katherine Heigl wore your bridal designs in “27 Dresses”, a romantic comedy directed by Anne Fletcher. Could you tell us more about this collaboration? 

YUMI: In LA, we have a partner company which supports our promotion in USA and this company got an offer from a Hollywood studio.

FASHION STUDIO: At Yumi Katsura 45th Anniversary Collection Show in 2009, you showed a humanoid robot in a wedding dress. How do you see the role of technology in fashion?

YUMI: New materials and new concepts are yielded by new technology. As fashion is a challenge for new things and uniqueness. In this meaning, fashion is strongly influenced by technology.

FASHION STUDIO: What is your favourite beauty product you can't live without?

YUMI: Although, they are not my personal but wedding dresses in the world are indispensable to me.


Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


FASHION STUDIO: How different is the Japanese idea of beauty from the concept present in the West?

YUMI: Japanese beauty conscious is like merging itself into the nature or absorb nature into itself. Western beauty concept shows rather sharp contrast against the nature and challenges against the nature to be soaring existence.

FASHION STUDIO: How travelling influences your work?

YUMI: Trip is unusual and I put myself into the nature and feel natural beauty and get new inspiration.

FASHION STUDIO: What is your favourite holiday destination?

YUMI: As you know, Japan is blessed with four seasons and beautiful seasonal flowers. I go to fields to enjoy flowers and I especially like cherry blossom and rose. Actually one rose producer developed and presented a new breed for me. He named it after me “Rose Yumi”.


Yumi Katsura at COUTURE, New York (Photo: Patrick Brassard for Fashion Studio Magazine)


FASHION STUDIO: In October, Fashion Studio Magazine attended your show at COUTURE (New York Bridal Fashion Week) where you presented a magnificent red bridal dress. How long did it take you to design that piece and where did you get your inspiration from?

YUMI: It took 6 months including design concept work. I tried to express passion with red Washi (Japanese traditional paper) and organzie.

FASHION STUDIO: Looking back at your impressive fashion career, which events do you personally consider most important?

YUMI: When Pierre Balmain who I respected most, visited my bridal shop and said to me “a bride of a wedding dress is one of the most beautiful things in the world.” “I do haute couture in Paris but I showcase wedding dresses only few times a year. However, you are surrounded by wedding dresses every day. I envy you.” I was so moved by his words and I still remember them. I became determined to go my way without any hesitation. Since then I have no doubts about my job.

FASHION STUDIO: What advice would you give to all aspiring designers? 

YUMI: Once you started to walk your favorite work or job, keep going that way believing your talent. And be watchful for interesting things, and take them into your work. It is the most important principle for a designer.

FASHION STUDIO: Thank you so much for your time and the privilege of having an interview with you! 


Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)

Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)

Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)

Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)

Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)

Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)

Japan Couture Evening 2012, Singapore (Photo courtesy of Fide Fashion Weeks)


Special thank you to Fide Fashion Weeks and Word Of Mouth Communications for making this interview possible.


Yumi Katsura and Eva Fydrych / Fashion Studio Magazine (November 2012)


See Yumi Katsura show in Bangkok here

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