SHINY DREAMS

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Beauty -

Shu Ue­mura x Takashi Mu­rakami Six Hearts Princesses Christ­mas Col­lec­tion who are held in high re­gard in both the east and west art worlds. His thought-pro­vok­ing works have been seen in the ven­er­a­ble Halls of Mir­rors of Ver­sailles in France, the Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art, Los An­ge­les, and Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong as well as on sold-out bags and gar­ments via fash­ion col­lab­o­ra­tions with Comme des Garçons and Louis Vuit­ton. art that in­spired the new col­lec­tion Hang­ing on the walls in Kaikai Kiki Stu­dio when I vis­ited was a large in­stal­la­tion of Mu­rakami’s self-por­trait stand­ing on a globe, ac­com­pa­nied by his beloved “in­dige­nous Ja­panese dog” Pom, with the ironic raised brows and pursed lips, re­plete in a riot of colours. There was also the cheer­ful Smi­ley­Face Flow­ers, and the famed illustration of Six Hearts Princess, which is a much more re­cent, an­i­ma­tion-driven foray for Mu­rakami.

“Per­son­ally, I am in­ter­ested in that time when women be­come aware of their sex­u­al­ity,” he says of the an­i­ma­tion that is in­spired by the ma­jokko (mag­i­cal witch girls) cul­ture in anime. “In my past work I have taken as­pects of the otaku cul­ture, which is gen­er­ally favoured by men, but I started to think more about an­i­ma­tion cul­ture from the per­spec­tive of a girl. All Ja­panese girls are crazy for an­i­mated sto­ries about mag­i­cal girls who have spe­cial pow­ers with which they help solve prob­lems.”

BEAU­TI­FUL AVENGERS

When Shu Ue­mura ap­proached Mu­rakami with the idea of a col­lab­o­ra­tion, the artist first said no, flat-out. “I didn’t think I would be do­ing any­thing dif­fer­ent from my fash­ion en­deav­ours,” he says earnestly. “But the Shu Ue­mura team was very per­sis­tent.”

So per­sis­tent that they promised him free reign. It took two years be­fore he fi­nally gave in to their pro­posal. “Shu Ue­mura al­ready had a part­ner­ship with Kaikai Kiki [pre­vi­ous Shu Ue­mura artist col­lab­o­ra­tions fea­tured Kaikai Kiki’s very own artists, Ob and Aya Takano], so nat­u­rally, I de­cided to ac­cept the of­fer. Most im­por­tantly, by then I had com­plete trust in them.”

Al­ways chal­leng­ing the norm, Mu­rakami and the Shu Ue­mura team de­cided that there had to be a theme, and a unique one at that. “I wanted it to be ex­cit­ing; to have a per­son­al­ity. I pro­posed a very dif­fer­ent mo­tif. I fi­nally chose Six Hearts Princess be­cause it is essen­tially a very dark tale. I see it as a form of de­sire for trans­for­ma­tion to which many women can truly re­late.”

TO­TAL MAKEOVER

Mu­rakami fans would have recog­nised the Pink Princess from the orig­i­nal an­i­ma­tion se­ries and waited in sweet an­tic­i­pa­tion of the col­lec­tors’ gems to get a hint of the Black Princess, a new char­ac­ter cre­ated ex­clu­sively for Shu Ue­mura. “They are de­signed to be the yin and yang of a woman. Black and pink il­lus­trates very well the con­trast­ing ideals. The Black Princess is more sen­sual, more mys­te­ri­ous. Her cos­tume is ab­so­lutely gor­geous, and her fea­tures sharper.”

“There is a cer­tain idea out there of what Ja­panese anime cul­ture is like, and more of­ten than not it is a flawed idea. Anime is yet to be in­ter­preted di­rectly into the world of fash­ion in for­eign coun­tries, and I strongly feel I have to go be­yond this line in or­der to get to the next level be­cause it is clear to me that the world has a strong in­cli­na­tion to find out more about the essence of the Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion style and cos­play (cos­tume play).”

What fol­lowed this train of thought was a goal to make the end-prod­uct of this col­lab­o­ra­tion re­ally unique. “Pretty was not enough.” He was not happy with the re­sults the first time he saw the sam­ple pack­ag­ing from Shu Ue­mura, and was frank about it. “It looked beau­ti­ful,” he says, “but or­di­nary.”

About this time came a whirl­wind trip to Bangkok. “I saw Ja­panese-in­spired set­ups ev­ery­where, but it was a mis­con­cep­tion of our cul­ture. I went to a maid café, and ev­ery­thing was pitch per­fect in all its clichés, in­clud­ing the maids’ pro­nun­ci­a­tions. Even though it was still a mis­con­cep­tion, it was beau­ti­ful. I was re­ally in­spired by this pure­ness, this

An illustration from Six Hearts Princess,

Shu Ue­mura in­ter­na­tional artis­tic di­rec­tor Kakuyasu Uchi­ide (left) with Mu­rakami

Cos­tume play­ers at the launch party in Shibuya, Tokyo

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