Kawaii: roughly translated into English as "cute" is the Japanese adoration of all things bloody adorable. Think cats in clothes, Sailor Moon, bread-shaped phone cases and Pokemon. Western fashion's fixation on Japan's ability to well, quite frankly, just have a lot more fun with clothes is a well spun story. Why have Savile Row when you can have Sanrio? Or in the case of celebrated London designers, Fyodor Golan, why not have both?
This week, one of our favourite design duos, Fyodor Golan's Pre SS17 look book landed in our inbox and it's so kawaii it hurts. The pair behind the brand, Fyodor Podgorny and Golan Frydman, took virtual pop star Hatsune Miku (more on her later) as their muse this season and they've collaborated with Digital Artist Ignasi Monreal, the man behind much of FKA Twigs' Japanophilic imagery, and photographer Mark Ramadan to animate this sumptuous digital look book. While Fyodor Golan's signature has always been digital textures and overblown colour this futuristic collection has taken huge inspiration from the Far East. They explained why they'd looked to Japan for this collection: "We were swallowed by actual cherry blossoms petals everyday on our way to the studio in mornings. These little baby pink petals where everywhere against the green grass in the parks. After speaking to Ignasi we added the wording "Sakura Kawaii" to our mood boards, which means "Cherry Blossom Cute" in Japanese and is also the name of an amazing Manga character." For Fyodor Golan it was all about capturing that sense of digital experience versus real life that we all participate in via our mobile phones every day. It helped with their vision too, that Ignasi has a well-Instagrammed obsession with Manga. "He came with a bank of information about Japanese Manga culture and lots of ideas came from watching Youtube clips of Manga processes and their transformations," Fyodor Golan added.
So, who better to be Fyodor's muse than Hatsune Miku? If you're not familiar with the artist, she's a "hologram generated singer from Japan, and is the perfect example of the dialogue between reality and artificiality; blurring the lines between the two. The crowds are massive that go see her concerts. It's fascinating to see people being fans of something so artificial and abstract" explained Fyodor. According to Wikipedia she's a "humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesiser application developed by Crypton Future Media. Hatsune Miku is a 16-year-old girl with long, turquoise twintails" who is voiced by a Japanese voice-actress called Saki Fujita. It's not too hard a stretch of the imagination to envisage Hatsune Miku in Fyodor Golan's: Giant knotted bows, jackets tied Samuri-armour-style at the side, over-blown tutus, pastel blue denims against hardened black leathers meet a truck-load of soft Pepto Bismol pinks. In short – a whole world of cute.
The osmosis of anime comics, street art, Hello Kitty and Studio Ghibli's cartoon-Romance cinema into central European pop-culture in the late '90s also collided with high fashion's infatuation with all things Tokyo. Japanese designers such as Issey Miyake and Junya Watanabe are stocked in every European department store worth its salt, but if your budget's a little more than Kirimi Chan and a little less than Commes des Garcons, Fyodor Golan is your ticket.