Interview With Masanori Morikawa, Designer And Founder Of Christian Dada
Manuela Martorelli: Season after season through your work you have been looking at the most intrinsic traits of youth culture, could you tell me about it?
Masanori Morikawa: Christian Dada’s identity is rooted in the notion of beauty in imperfection. I feel like youth culture exemplifies this idea. Angers, dilemma, unstable feelings like a pendulum of the youth fuels the culture. I am attracted to that.
Manuela: The melancholic closing words of Ryu Murakami’s Almost transparent blue - one of the most striking Japanese contemporary novelists exploring the themes of youth and drugs abuse - echoed in your Fall Winter 2017. I would love if you could tell me more about this choice.
Masanori: I was always a fan of this particular work of Ryu Murakami. I would also look at Derek Jarman’s BLUE. I wanted to capture the beauty of young people’s vulnerability, fragilely going back and forth between lives, as well as the BLUE = youth in Japanese (figuratively: In Japanese Culture the word BLUE/AO symbolizes immaturity, and images of the youth).
Manuela: Your work is imbued with duality – certainly the epitome of youth itself – and that uncertainty and struggling reaffirming of young individuals. We see relaxed men’s cut shirts but that at the touch reveal an incredible heavy textile, deconstructed jackets that show the lining on the outside, lurex raw materials surprisingly soft at touch. What fascinates you in this regard?
Masanori: What I always have in mind is “Contrast” and especially I am into the duality where something soft, or something that is looking soft is actually very hard, or vice versa. I find it really intriguing when those opposite two elements got merged together.
Manuela: Can you remember a particular moment in your youth when you have felt this was the right path for you?
Masanori: I really didn't have that moment like many other designers, which kind of made me feel like I’m behind the game sometime. I wasn't a type of guy who knows what he wants to be either, but was more confused and worried about my future. Having said that I used to draw a lot and growing up with grandpa who is a self-taught embroidery technician may have organically impacted my path to become a designer.
Manuela: You find inspiration from different sources. Have you felt particularly inspired by a specific artist in terms of visual art, music or cinema?
Masanori Morikawa: Of course, artists and music give me tremendous inspirations and I do apply that to my collection. Yet who and what give me an idea depends on my situation at the time. In that sense, my friends’ circles would influence me the most, I think. Talking and drinking together with designer friends get me thinking, jealous, and learn a lot. And I would like to take in all the energy from those communications. Maybe I don't like to lose.
Manuela: Did these influences changed during the years?
Masanori: Yes, all the time.
Manuela: You have worked on the costumes for Takashi Murakami for the Time Out Tokyo in 2016. When your artistic collaboration started? How did you meet?
Masanori: He DMed me through Instagram and said he liked some of CHRISTIAN DADA items. It all started from there.
Manuela: For your Fall Winter 2016 you collaborated with iconic artist Araki through enchanting floral hand painting. Tell me about this collaboration and how it blossomed.
Masanori: This collaboration started when I first visited his exhibition entitled Love on the Left Eye. I was very much impressed by his power of survival and strength after the battles of cancer through the works. Later I was introduced to Araki directory through the gallery I knew of. Next thing you know is I started to work on the collaboration collection.
Manuela: I always perceive a dark romantic feeling in your work a diffused melancholy …
Masanori: Hahaha. I don't know why, but you are not the only one who said so. I am not trying to portrait the image. Even my music preference, I prefer something sensitive like ambient, post-rock, and electronica, to EDM kind. Interesting.
Manuela: In your FW 2018 collection you used the poignant work of David Lynch as inspiration. What particular trait of his work captured your imagination?
Masanori: What I like about David Lynch is that the more you look at it, the more you feel and are able to see things deeper. First glance won’t give you much info and you have hard time understanding but you can look into his conceptual story after repetitive try. For this FW18 collection, I take his quote, “A spiral is a circle that goes up or down. For me, this spiral is a circle going up representing evolution” and develop the collection.
Manuela: I would like you to tell me more about this collection, also in terms of the choices of materials and cut.
Masanori: Rotation: reconstruct the silhouette by rotating details horizontally, linking to “spiral”. There are three important elements. The “Nishijin”: rich fabric often used for traditional kimono, made by Hosoo in Kyoto. The colour, and the pattern were originally made through the David Lynch inspiration. Then there is the KAPPA collaboration: to me the KAPPA original logo where man and women were sitting against their back symbolizes Adam and Eve. Based on the “Evolution/Spiral” theme I tried to convey the image of beginning of human and the relationships (process of evolution). Another element of the collection was to challenge worldwide known work wear, the Dickies, and its functional designs applying the rotational reconstructions.
Manuela: Since few seasons you have started Menswear. In a past interview you have mentioned as it started as the mirror of yourself, of your way of dressing and your youth. Is it still so?
Masanori: It’s been 8 years since I started CHRISTIAN DADA. I aged too. It’s more like projecting younger me when I started than to have a mirror of myself.
Manuela: How was your youth?
Masanori: Well, when I was in high school I was always skateboarding, cutting class. In apparel tech school I was always drinking every single night. I had nothing and did nothing actually.
Manuela: There is a shared atmosphere in the fashion crowd at the moment that focus on a strong street wear aesthetic. You on the contrary are keeping strong your identity based on your very own aesthetic. How challenging is to be true to your vision, in this complex industry nowadays?
Masanori: This street wear movement made me realise some things too. In terms of sales and commercial purposes I can’t ignore the phenomenon and decided to take in some of the elements. However, I am aware that this is where I stand, and fall into. I am rebellious. When the mainstream becomes a certain way, I would go counter. For that reason, today’s street wear gives me a change to face myself.
Styling & Words / Manuela Martorelli @Y+M Studio
All clothes: Christian Dada, boots & organza skirt: Stylist’s Own
Photography / Kin Yuen @Y+M Studio
Make up & Hair / Yuk Tsang
Model / Elisabeth Lucasse @Paparazzi Model Management