Embroidery of hand punched sequins from recycled materials
Coco Chanel loved camelias. She said « The delicate camelia flowers do not have any perfume and they are the best flowers to offer to women because they can choose their own perfume.»
La petite veste noire_My Chanel Collection
70x77cm, Embroidery on fabric paper with hand-made recycled sequins. (90 hours work)
The iconic Chanel jacket was first produced in 1957 for the spring/summer collection.
It was just after her return to rue Cambon following a 15 years absence due to the Second World War. She was over 70 years old. This tweed jacket was straight cut with four pockets without a collar which was inspired by men’s jackets and the Austrian elevator man’s uniform. It was created with her idea of women’s freedom. She showed all her avant-garde elegance in a clever way.
Her new jacket is comfortable to wear and it was designed for women who worked like herself. Around that period, Dior’s new look had been well received in the fashion world. Her simple masculine style tweed jacket was the complete opposite of Dior’s new look. This modern tweed jacket was a sensation and created a new tradition in the fashion world.
« in principle, I always invent. I don’t create anything which already exists. I devote myself to originality.»Gabrielle Chanel
‘Black’ is one of her iconic colours since her lover Boy Capel’s death 1919. Around that period of time, lots of women wore in black after the death of their boyfriends or husbands who died in the world war.
Les Colliers_My Chanel Collection
70x71 cm, Embroidery on fabric paper with hand-made recycled sequins. (75hours work)
Until around 1920 long pearl necklaces were reserved for the upper class society in England. In 1921, Coco Chanel was offered the long pearl necklace from Duke of Westminster. It was 2m of fine pearls. She loved this pearl necklace, saying that my bohemian skin became much whiter (with pearls).
She quickly transformed the fashion world with her pearl necklaces.
Le 2.55_My Chanel Collection
61x45 cm, Embroidery on fabric paper with hand-made recycled sequins. (80 hours work)
Gabrielle Chanel launched her new style of bag in 1929, to carry over the shoulder. She was inspired by military bags. This style replaced the traditional woman’s bags at that time with handles or purses under the arm.
When she released the new bag collection after her return to rue Cambon, she named the bag ‘2.55’ after the release date, February 1955. The numbering style complemented her perfume No.5 or No.22. The newly released bag was what we now see as ‘new classic Chanel’ bag-style; quilted and with chains.
The quilt was perhaps inspired either by the horse trainer’s jacket or by the suede sofa in her apartment. The double chains were inspired the key chains worn by the sisters around their hips in Gabriel’s orphanage (in order to carry the keys).
La chaussure bi-couleur_My Chanel Collection
36 x 51 cm, Embroidery on fabric paper with hand-made recycled package sequins. (30 hours work)
The bi-colour shoes were created in 1957, the same year as the Tweed jacket was produced. At that time, women’s shoes were in mono colours. When she launched these comfortable shoes in beige and black, she said «We leave home in beige and black in the morning, we take lunch in beige and black, we go to cocktails in beige and black. This way, we are well dressed from morning to evening. »Black on the toe makes women’s feet smaller and also protects them from unfavourable weather and from people’s critics. The 5cm comfortable heel helps active women through a day. Like Chanel’s tweed jacket, Mademoiselle wore the bi-colour shoes at work everyday.
« I hide in beige because it’s natural.»GabrielleChanel
La mode selon Coco_My Chanel Collection
50x91 cm, Embroidery on fabric paper with hand-made recycled sequins. (40 hours work)
La mode selon Karl_ My Chanel Collection
'Fashion is neither moral nor amoral, but it is to improve morale.'
52 x 100cm, Embroidery on fabric paper with hand-made recycled sequins. (40hours work)
My Chanel Collection
Fashion fades, but style never (La mode se démode, le style jamais) according to Coco Chanel “the high priestess of twentieth-century fashion”.*
In this hand-made work, I reference the qualities of ‘innovation’ and ‘forever’ that mark a signature style to painstakingly recreate Chanel icons in my own style. The classic Chanel jacket and handbag are dream items, and symbols of success.
I have a personal association with this high-end brand as I was an illustrator for Chanel in Paris for almost a decade.
When I left Paris to come to Melbourne, I decided to make a farewell gift for Karl Lagerfeld, the Artistic Director of Chanel. I gave him an embroidered portrait made from hand-made recycled sequins. "Yes!" Karl took off his sunglasses, saying "C’est joli!" (This is beautiful!) He took several photos with his iphone, repeating "C’est joli!" and smiled at me. And he doesn’t smile very often!
I studied Fashion Design at Studio Berçot in Paris, but my particular way of working has its foundation in my home village of Kitagata, Japan - a village in the mountains that is covered with snow for five months every year. Farmers cannot work so they make traditional art and crafts at home to survive the harsh winters. During winter in Melbourne, I have punched and hand-stitched thousands and thousands of plastic sequins from local packaging, whilst thinking of Chanel and my family and neighbours in Japan.
This recycling aspect of my work does not sit easily with the consumption culture associated with the world of high fashion.
My mother was born into a modest family during the Second World War. She survived hunger and poverty after the war. She always said "Take care of what you use" and "Live with what we have". She grew all our vegetables and made everything we needed for our family. In winter, she sewed and knitted our clothes. I certainly did not learn ‘to buy‘ from her.
Until the early ’90’s, Japan enjoyed a booming economy. I moved to Tokyo during this time and quickly discovered a completely different world from my village. People valued spending. I enjoyed it too, and quickly adapted myself to spending and producing waste... I also felt ashamed that I was not following my mother’s teaching. Later, while living in Europe, I realised this culture of mass consumption came from the USA, and that Japan had followed it during the bubble era. During this ‘lost’ decade, I came to appreciate my mother’s words.
In this work, I have created 'luxury' art with everyday materials using what I have and what is around me. This is my ‘style‘.