Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tokyo Adorned with Kumamiki and Aguko

I was so excited when I found out that Kumamiki was going to be in New York.  Kumamiki is a clothing designer and Harajuku fashion icon.  She has been posting videos with tutorials and general updates about her life here on YouTube.  She traveled to New York with Aguko, another Japanese fashion icon who wears mostly resale clothing, for an event promoting Thomas C Card's new collection of photos titled Tokyo Adorned.

Thomas was inspired by an article he read in the New York Times years ago that was loosely related to Harajuku fashion.  At the event at Kinokuniya on Tuesday, he explained that his perception of Harajuku fashion changed.  When he began the project he was under the impression that there were very specific subcultures but after he traveled to Japan and began taking photos, he realized that it was much more loosely defined than he initially thought.  He found it difficult to contact people involved in the Harajuku fashion scene from overseas so he and his assistant went to Japan and met Kumamiki on the street who then helped them find others to participate in the photo project.  He explained that the photo sessions were a maximum of 30 minutes.  He explained that most people who aren't models get uncomfortable after working in front of the camera for longer than that.

After explaining his process in creating the book, he allowed the audience to ask questions.  The people who attended this event were really interesting.  I had anticipated many young people like myself but there were only a handful of them, many dressed in lolita and some who had walked into the store without knowing about the event beforehand.  I met so many nice people at this event too.  However, most of the people seemed to be friends of the photographer who were otherwise unfamiliar with Japanese fashion.  They had a lot of interesting questions and I appreciated their curiosity.  

There was a translator to assist Aguko and Kumamiki when they responded to questions.  Aguko's English was so good!  After years of studying Japanese, my language skills are very sub par.  I know how difficult English is to learn so I'm always beyond impressed when someone learns it as a second language.  Kumamiki is also good at English as far as I can tell from her videos but she was much more hesitant to use it.  No judgments here though because it's not like I even attempted to speak Japanese to her or Aguko and if I had to sit on a panel in Japan, I would much rather go through a translator.

My favorite question someone asked is how long they intend to dress the way they do.  Aguko said that she is going to dress how she wants until someone stops her so basically she will be this way forever.  Thomas explained that he found many of the people he photographed said that they don't feel like they are their true selves unless they are dressed in their preferred style.  I really felt inspired and empowered after I visited Harajuku 2 years ago.  I felt like anyone could express themselves through their clothing however they wanted and it's encouraged.  No matter how outrageous it is, it's appreciated and respected.

I got my copy of the book signed by Thomas, Aguko and Kumamiki!  It's a lot bigger than I imagined which is awesome because the photos have much more of an impact at this size.  I  feel like the event and book didn't have much press but now after the event is over, I have seen tons of articles like this one publishing Thomas' photos!  If you're curious about what's in the book definitely check that link out.  Thomas also includes photos from some of the people's rooms that they were kind enough to allow him to photograph.

Me and Kumamiki!

It was so cool to meet these two girls.  There's a really great Tokyo Fashion video about Kumamiki that I loved so much.  It actually inspired me to name my senior art show "Korona" which is a word she created to mean "adult with a kid's heart".  I found my work identified with the word because it appeared to be childlike but had darker meanings.  You can, and definitely should, watch the video here.  It makes me want to get infinitely better at sewing or just save my money and buy her creations.

You can buy the book online for a lot less than I ended up buying it for (eek) and it's an amazing thing to have around your house or apartment or whatever it is that you live in.  Definitely a must have for any fashion fan.

This entry was rather long because I get so enthusiastic about this topic.  I know I said my last entry would be the last one for a while, but I think this one is it before I go to Japan!  I want to make some videos but I'm not sure I have the equipment for it.  We shall see.  I will definitely be off the radar for a bit, but if you have any Japan related questions and things, leave them in my comments or ask box and I am more than happy to answer them.  Thank you for reading my blog.  Things will definitely get more interesting from here on out.

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  1. Soooo cyuuuuttteee eeee ill deff have to check her out she seems like such a lovely person!!!!

    1. She's adorable. Her videos make me so happy.

  2. This is so cool oh my gosh!! ;A; This is such a nice post I'll look at the book afterwards too~ :3 Thank you for sharing ^^
    -Kiyomi xx