You know how in Japan when you ask someone what their occupation is, the default answer is a vague “I work at a company.” It’s a humble answer that is meant to defer further inquiry and it conjures up an image of an average Joe, or a suit-wearing paper-pusher. Well this was the sort of answer that I was misleadingly given when I was first introduced to KiNG many years ago. Asking about her specialty, I was told she “designs some accessories.” It was was on those answers that makes me think of forgettable little 14k gold charms that line the cases of jewelry chain stores here. Ah, an “accessories designer”, ok, I thought.
God, 5 or 6 years later and I FINALLY understand how wrong I was.
KiNG, as she is known, is a Japanese costume/accessories designer who creates some greatly unique pieces of art for some of the top musicians, ads, fashion brands and theatre of our day. Think Bjork, Ayumi Hamasaki, GLAY, Misia, Mika Nakashima, Coca Cola, MILK BOY, and Hedwig and the Angry Itch.
Today I was shooting at Kita Kore in Koenji and as it happened, she was holding a week-long exhibition of some of her best work there. After it wrapped, I grabbed my camera and focused squarely on her and her work of art. The exhibit is called “Tadachi ni Shugo Seyo” which is something like “Get the F**k Together Now” and it is a nice showing of in-your-face DIY couture.
Recently she has been working a lot with V-kei bands like GAZETTE who are finding major commercial success overseas now. She created these metallic industrial pieces in their image. She picked up the “speaker corset and i knew what was coming next; time to try it on for size.
The other pieces were equally striking, like the Swarovsky-saddled bicycle for MILK BOY, the swirling mirror, and the giant bug/plant sculpture (her description, not mine!).
She said that she is wondering if she should try and start to brand her pieces, and I think that is has come to the age where even if you are an artisan making only one-off pieces it is *extremely* important to create a presence for yourself in the form of a brand. In KiNG’s case, she already has this artist name and persona to go by, making it easier to fall into being an approachable, marketable (no matter how niche) entity. Not bad for someone who just makes, you know, ”accessories”.
See some more of her work below.
If you want to see it for yourself, you have until TODAY (Thursday) to
see it! At KITAKORE Garter Gallery. (entrance free)