Best known for her playful take on color, pattern, and volume, fashion veteran and OC staple Tsumori Chisato, who started out under the wing of Issey Miyake in the late 1970s, has been gaining more and more street cred since her label has expanded outside of Paris and her native Japan. Tsumori gave us the low down on her childhood dreams of becoming a singer, a teen uniform that made her mother cringe and the goods she scooped up on her recent travels, along with some sketches from her FW10 collection.
Shop the new pre-SS11 collection and all Tsumori Chisato HERE!
Sofia Cavallo: This year marks the Tsumori Chisato label's 20th anniversary. Can you tell us about the SS11 collection?
Tsumori Chisato: This collection is filled with the motifs I have cherished for the past years, and my dream is that anyone who wears my clothes will be happy. The collection has mid-length dresses with vivid color combinations and bold, graphic, hand drawn lines. There are also coquettish knit dresses with trompe-l'oeil printed sailor hats. I was inpired by the great African landscapes and skies from my visit to the continent last March.
SC: For someone who has been designing for decades, how do you jump start the creative process when inspiration is running low?
I take a walk or sleep to relax and freshen my mind when I need a new inspiration.
SC: You began your career at Issey Miyake in 1977. What did you learn from Miyake in your years working as a designer with him?
TC: I learned about dynamic designs and the importance of teamwork.
SC: Did you always want to be a fashion designer?
TC: No, when I was a kid, I wanted to become a singer or a manga illustrator!
SC: How did you dress when you were a teenager in Japan?
TC: I used to wear T-shirts and jeans and my mother would get angry about it!
SC: When you design clothes, do you have yourself in mind? In terms of personal style, what do you like to wear?
TC: Yes I totally have myself in mind: I design thinking of what I would wear. I like to wear clothes depending on my feeling. For instance, if I feel like being gorgeous, I'll wear very chic clothes. But if I'm not feeling good, I'll wear something that makes me feel better, like bright pop colors. I like how fashion can change what you're feeling.
SC: You have said before that your travels are a great source of inspiration to you. Where have you traveled to recently?
TC: Very recently, I visited Uzbekistan as I was invited to participate to their fashion week. I also just traveled to Hong Kong to attend my new shop opening.
SC: Opening Ceremony is based around the idea of travel and bringing back souvenirs. What are some amazing trips you have been on, and did you bring back anything memorable?
TC: I love traveling, it’s an important source of inspiration for me: after every show, I go someplace for inspiration for my next collection. I would say that Turkey, Australia and Syria were some of my most amazing trips. I brought back many carpets from Turkey, and a beautiful glass vase from Syria.
SC: You have a flagship in Paris, but you also have several stores in Tokyo. Do you consider your work more Japanese or French?
TC: My design office is based in Tokyo and I have a Japanese nationality but I don't really feel Japanese--I love Paris, where I go every two months. My creations are made with my own style, which is neither Japanese nor French.
SC: You are well known for your prints. How do you research prints and textiles, and how involved are you in the process of turning the design into a real fabric?
TC: I'm involved in the entire process, from the very beginning to the very end: I go to the Parisian textile tradeshow Première Vision for research. I draw the prints myself using watercolor or colored pens. I pick the fabrics myself and check the sample each time it has been made so that the final garments looks like what I have in mind. I spend most of my time working--you know how hard Japanese people work, it's not a myth!
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