Kawaii, roughly translated into English as "cute," is the Japanese adoration of all things adorable. Think cats in clothes, Sailor Moon, bread-shaped phone cases, and Pokemon. Western fashion's fixation on Japan's ability to, quite frankly, just have a lot more fun with clothes is a well-spun story. Why have Supreme when you can have Sanrio? Or, in the case of celebrated British line Fyodor Golan, why not have both?
This week, the label released its pre-spring/summer 2017 lookbook, 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, collaborated with digital artist Ignasi Monreal, the man behind much of FKA Twigs' Japanophilic imagery, and photographer Mark Ramadan, on animation. And while Fyodor Golan's signature has always been digital textures and overblown color, this futuristic collection has taken huge inspiration from the Far East. "We were swallowed by actual cherry blossom petals every day on our way to the studio in the mornings," they said of the collection. "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," they added.
So, who better to be the brand's muse than 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," Podgorny explained. "The crowds are massive that go see her concerts. It's fascinating to see people being fans of something so artificial and abstract." Wikipedia describes her as "humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application developed by Crypton Future Media. [She is] a 16-year-old girl with long, turquoise twintails"; her singing comes from Japanese voice actress Saki Fujita. It's not too hard a stretch of the imagination to envision Miku in Fyodor Golan's pieces, either: Giant knotted bows, jackets tied samurai-style at the side, over-blown tutus, pastel-blue denims against hardened black leathers, and 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 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 to kawaii-town.