A round of Sake is in order (a glass of umeshu or other fruitshu + soda for me), for Anrealage which snagged the coveted Mainichi Fashion Awards top honor this year. It was only EXPECTED when you put out one of the most amazing collections Tokyo has seen, and with incredibly cerebral yet wearable collections season after season, after all. The photo above is by Mika Ninagawa for Shiseido with the inimitable Kiko Mizuhara getting her pixel sexy on. If you haven’t seen Anrealage’s award-winning collection yet, then take a look at it here (and then see the up close and personal backstage shots here)
Before anyone knew they had won the Mainichi prize, I actually had the chance to sit down with designer Morinaga for an in-depth, career-spanning interview for Chinese high-fashion magazine NOT Magazine. I met up with the team and Editor in Chief Les Suen who is a brilliant artist and editor, and his magazine encapsulates the beauty and depth that fashion charges.
The magazine is only 3 (soon to be 4) issues old and is only available in Shanghai. It’s large format like “W” magazine and employs foil printing and other fun techniques that make the images pop. I fell in love with it right away.
But anyway, back to Anrealage. It was a great opportunity to pick Morinaga’s mind. Below find some snippets of the article in its native English below:
…The man behind the 8-bit curtain is Kunihiko Morinaga, a Waseda University and Vantan
Career School graduate. He started Anrealage in 2003 upon graduation and has sustained
a reputation as an obscure brand slowly on the rise since then. Morinaga is the picture
of a stoic designer, appearing quite serious in both appearance and tone. His office, with
sanded wood floors, clean blue walls and free of clutter, is so clean I can imagine eating
sushi straight off the floor. This in itself provides a hint to the success of the label; details
Anrealage’s motto is actually “God is in the details.” In 2005 Marinaga presented his first full
collection titled “Suzume no Namida”, which is a Japanese saying that means “Even a
bird’s tear is not so insignificant to not hold meaning.” This collection consisted of jackets
created from small, patch-worked pieces of fabric processed within an inch of their lives.
Frayed denim and random prints gave it a post-apocalyptic Wonderland feel. The collection
was picked up by WWD America and it led to an invitation to enter the Gen Art
Award. Morinaga came out of the contest on top with the “Avant-garde” award and put on a
show in New York.
In 2009 Anrealage eschewed fashion shows for presentations,
where he debuted his most cerebral collection yet, titled “○△□” (circle, triangle, square).
In it, Morinaga experimented with a CAD program to create a garment that begins in the
shape of a circle. He followed with a triangle and square, adding in ingenious details like
folding over jacket buttons when they happen to sit on a corner of the shape.
“At the shop, customers will ask why that one button is bent. Then the sales people can
explain the collection to them. It is a great ice-breaker.”
He followed up with “凹凸” (Concave, Convex), which saw a similar idea, but explored even
further; Morinaga engineered clothing so that their 2D flat “line sheets” would need to be
shown in 3D. He introduced patterns to this collection, stretching a “Harvard” logo T-shirt on
a block like it was silly putty. When taken off of the shapes, the clothing reveals a unique,
deranged shape that takes on a completely different character.
“I am terrified of failure, I think,” confessed Morinaga. “I make mistakes every season. I
make mistakes and dig out the root of the problem, and fix it. Or I try to. I can only move
The press and my customers see my collection concepts in completely different ways.
That’s the way it is set up. But it is difficult to please both. For the customers, I suppose I
have to spell it out on a tag and stick it onto the clothes.”
From his archives, Morinaga pulled out a cropped jacket from the 2008 SS “No More”
collection in which 5,000 buttons had been sewn all over it and then cut off, leaving the
frayed ends of the yarn exposed. From a distance, it appeared to be just eclectic Chanel
tweed. “We took the long way out to get this effect. But it was all done by hand, and with
The magazine only launched in June, so this is its inaugural “fashion issue” and they hit it running. I got to write another piece, in which I spoke to our generation’s answer to couture, Iris Van Herpen. It was a funny coincidence since I wrote about her shockingly beautiful pieces just before it on this blog.
6月にローンチしたばかりというまだ若い雑誌なのに、この第一の「ファッション」をテーマにした号では素敵なラインアップを見せている。アンリアレイジの他に、私はオランダ出身のニューゼネレーションを代表するクチュールデザイナーの「Iris Van Herpen」さんにもインタビューさせてもらいました。面白いことに、依頼を受けた直前にこのブログでも彼女のことを紹介していた から直接お話できてすごく光栄でした。
…In the language of fashion, we speak of strings of sequins, swaths of chiffon, and kisses of silk. We have a
vocabulary bank where words and ideas are rejoined in combinations, conveying what we’ve experienced
with our optical senses. But in the case of Iris Van Herpen, she is teaching us a new language, and its
dialect is still obscure; we must talk about melting points, polyamides, prototyping and computational
“I think technology is helping couture. When I bring technology into the mix with these old
techniques, I am pushing the industry to evolve and trying to keep it relevant. One needs to evolve to stay
alive and if couture doesn’t change, it will cease to exist. I want to make the old techniques relevant for
tomorrow. So I need to explore outside those old techniques, or I won’t grow either.”
Van Herpen’s aesthetic, both physically and in narrative, lies in futurism. The entire “Escape” collection
was based around extracting ourselves from the tangle of digital entertainment. It is then that she
considers the word “fashion” itself to be archaic.
“I find the word fashion to be ‘old fashioned’. It doesn’t feel up to date at all. It’s a popular word and I don’t
like to use it. I don’t know where it came from anyway. It’s only been around since the last century, right?
To me, It’s just a part of the commercial fashion industry which is obsessed with seasons and selling
clothes to everyone.”….
I love the fashion editorials, as they work with what little samples they are given, yet still manage to create thought-provoking imagery. This editorial was based on a acrobatic circus theme. I hope to do a shoot in Tokyo soon.
NOT Magazine tends to sell out of its run of copies within hours in Shanghai…so this September issue with Anrealage is probably already long gone. I`m getting sent some extra copies now, so maybe I can hold a lottery or something to give a couple copies out. That would be fun! …if anyone wants one, that is ^^;