It was a killer hot day when I went to see Noritaka Tatehana’s newest collection by private appointment at his Omotesando atelier. So hot that when I noticed the toilet in his building’s lobby it was all I could do to duck in to refresh. After all, Noritaka may be a young and small brand, but he oozes class and luxury at every turn and I didn’t want to sweat all over his shoes.
Noritaka Tatehana is possibly the only Tokyo-based designer today who has the chops to become a global phenomenon thanks to his recognition as Lady Gaga’s cobbler on contract (he has already made 3 couture pairs for her this year). While it’s obvious Tatehana has the chops as an artisan and pro at his craft, without the pull of international buzz it’s so easy for a brand to get lost in the myriad mix of the fashion industry. Fame by association has always been something that many wish they had but very few actually get.
I was greeted by his assistant Junko looking smashing in a black gothic Comme des Garcons dress and led to his salon where six new models were on display for the 2012 “Atom” collection. I don’t know if she meant to match the collection, but Tatehana’s newest works were as black and gothic as her dress. The 6 pairs are extremely minimalistic in perfectly polished leather and all boasting his famous no-heel designs. The heels are ectually hollow, created using a process the designer invented, made of only leather. This makes the shoes extremely lightweight and, yes, easy to walk in!
“I think most people thought I would go REALLY crazy, even crazier than I ever have before. I wanted to do the opposite of what they expected,” he said.
It’s true, that when I think of Noritaka Tatehana I imagine ruby red Swarovski-smattered boots and mile-high platforms covered in gold studs. But this move to a more easy-to-understand collection is not just probably a good idea, it is probably a *genius* way to take his business to the next level.
He also introduced a few small items in the same high-quality leather that bear his name, including two small pouches that hold fragrance for him and her, and some beautiful “kanzashi” hair picks that geisha and other Japanese women wore in their traditionally.
“211″ is his atelier room number.
It had been awhile since I had visited Tatehana’s studio and I had a grand time looking at his archive which included some shoes purchased by my (MFPAT) Most Favorite Person Alive Today, the venerable Daphne Guinnesss. One of those pairs included one with gold finishings that looked like cat claws at the toes and a leaopard motif made out of crystals. Tatehana’s shoes, a pair purchased by Guinness, was included in her recent massive auction for the Isabella Blow foundation and the shoes alone pulled in $12,683 (!).
Although the shoes seem simple, Noritaka’s name is still associated with luxury so he did create a pair of sapphire blue heels created with various sized Swarovski crystals. I just couldn’t get this dark beauty to go with my blonde hair…IT DOES NOT MATCH. I am learning what it’s like to be blonde…unlike black hair that goes with everything… blonde is too cute! In the match against this shoe and me, I totally lost.
Tatehana got back from a trip to Korea with Comme des Garcons today, where he exhibits and sells some of his collection. He will be doing the same in Tokyo again in September this year at the Trading Museum store on Omotesando so watch out for it.
Here is his Bio which is quite fascinating:
“Noritaka Tatehana was born into family running a public bathhouse, Kabuki-yu in Kabukicho. His father is president of a company and his mother is an instructor of Wadldorf Dolls, used in Waldorf or Steiner education. Nortaka was raised in Kamakura, where he initially started making dresses and shoes, all self-taught, when he was 15. He studied fine arts and sculpture at the Tokyo National University of the Arts,and later majored in dyeing and weaving. He researched “Oiran” or the high-ranking courtesans of the Edo period (1600-1800). In the meantime, he created kimonos and getas (Japanese clogs) using Yuzen, the traditional Japanese dye methods. In 2010 he established his maison NORITAKA TATEHANA.”
彼はつい先日、韓国のComme des Garconsにてエキシビションと販売会を行って来たそうで、
Official photos from NoritakaTatehana.com