This is awful. I draw the line at over-officious civic line drawing.

Sachiko Kobayashi, New Year’s Eve, 2010. (2009, 2008)

To have put Kobayashi-san “up her own ass” would have been too coarse a metaphor for the NHK visual effects department who, burdened as they are every year with the task of outdoing the previous year’s efforts when it comes to finding some gaudy mechanism for the old lady to appear in, opted instead this year for putting her “in her own hands.”

This year’s gown - we’ll call it a gown - made last year’s look positively casual.

A macaque in Nagano - they’re as plentiful there as squirrels in Canada.

I think he said it was blowfish fins in the sake flavouring it. Then he lit it on fire.

Kawakubo Rei, Comme des Garçons

"I am not conscious of any intellectual approach as such. My approach is simple. It is nothing other than what I am thinking at the time I make each piece of clothing, whether I think it is strong and beautiful. The result is something that other people decide."

Yeah, I admit it - I’ve been a smalltime fashion follower for the last several years, in as much as looking at pictures of runway shows for a few weeks out of the year is following fashion. It may have started from reading New Yorker style issue profiles of Rick Owens, Marc Jacobs, Alber Elbaz, etc, and then been nurtured watching Project Runway, one of the more talent-based and least cold-blooded reality shows out there. Whatever the origin of my interest was, because I know almost nothing about it, fashion holds the same fascination for me that jazz had when I first heard it and had no idea what was going on, what was good or bad, or what the rules were. One thing I know is that my fascination has nothing to do with clothing. It’s got more to do with, as I said, my remoteness from it, which makes it a mysterious and wonderful thing, with seeing imagination and far-flung craftsmanship find their way through the cracks of business (some people might balk at the idea of fashion being an art form, but is it any different from the film industry?), and with seeing how the shows themselves are sometimes like a kind of sullen, decadent theatre.

Comme des Garçons, Spring 2010.

some details

Among the handful of designers that I’ve been watching over the last several seasons is Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. I guess you’d say her designs are way off in the conceptual corner of the industry. I have yet, anyway, to see anyone wearing anything remotely as alien on the street - and I live in Japan. Her Spring 2009 collection had geometric, architectural forms, and white wigs like down feathers bursting out of these black egg-like shapes; Fall 2009 saw cocoon-like wraps tightened around everything, somewhat constricting, but beautiful, like latter-day kimonos (video, part one here and part two here). The Spring 2010 clothes are hard to describe. Would it be an insult to say that some of the dresses look like aleatoric upholstery? The NY Times’ Cathy Horyn, an obvious fan, does a better job talking about them:

"Some of the collaged jackets and tailcoats consisted of more than 20 pieces of different fabrics: gray pinstripes, dotted velvet, brocades, black sequined scraps. And many of the pieces were shaped like a tailored shoulder, as if Ms. Kawakubo had collected the discarded shoulders in her studio. If you’ve ever seen such pieces lying around in a studio, you will know what I mean when I say they seem to possess their own energy."

Comme des Garçons, Fall 2009.

Comme des Garçons, Spring 2009.

Here is a short interview with Kawakubo, from which the quote at the top is taken, in Interview magazine. And here, if you can be bothered reading it in a flickr set, is a 2005 New Yorker article. Equally difficult to read, a big jpeg of a little interview in Vogue from 1987. She has a way of striking a tone at once modest and self-effacing and curtly haughty in interviews - and why shouldn’t she, I guess; a self-made bottom-up success, knows where she started and how she got where she is. A couple more little bits from the interviews:

"It’s not personality. It’s hard work. When Estée Lauder accepted her achievement award at the Fashion Group last fall she said she didn’t get where she got by chance. She worked. It’s the same with me. I worked hard every day. That’s all it is - a lot of hard work."

"It would have more meaning for me to hear what critics have to say if their values and their ways of living were deeper and more serious."

"There is surely worth in making simple things, and there is worth when utility is the concept. But art need not be bourgeois, necessarily. There is nothing bourgeois, for example, about hair artist Julien d’Ys great creation for this collection, where hair, hat, and makeup become one."

"Comme des Garçons has always traveled at its own pace and will continue to do so. In good times and bad times the company is more or less the same."

Japanese TV Tropes (4): self-humiliation

Japanese TV Tropes (3): singer plumage

Japanese TV Tropes (2): studio shades

Japanese TV Tropes (1): transvestites, transexuals


There aren’t too many things that inspire unmitigated product lust in me. But Crocs sandals do. In fact, the only footwear with more allure to me right now is that magisterial anti-product, the Dutch wooden clog itself. If I could get a perfectly fitting wooden clog, I like to imagine, then I would be happy.

I was at a low point months ago when I couldn’t find the “Classic” or “Beach” model Crocs on the Crocs Japan website. Surely they weren’t going to abandon the shoe that made them what they are…? (Although, in Japan the typical business model seems to be the reverse of what it is in western countries - that is, they are constantly replacing items with newer ones rather than looking to build a reliable market over time - so, in a way, ditching the iconic signature shoe seemed at least predictably dumb.) Anyway, it’s available again and one pair wasn’t enough for me this time. Two was the affordable medium between one and a lifetime supply.

Unfortunately - and I’m not sure about this since I can’t remember what my first pair was like when new - there seems to be something different about the sizing now. The fit seems much smaller. I’m in semi-anguish trying to remember what the original fit of my first crocs was like. It’s certainly much wider and looser now, whatever it was like before. Are these going to stretch out and be the perfect plastic shoe like my last pair? I don’t remember having any doubts about the comfort of the fit the first time around. O fickle memory!

Fireworks. June 6. Nishibiwajima, Japan.

Saint Passionate


priceless anecdotes drawn from my real experiences and souvenir jpegs of lost time


art / film / music / books / reviews / lists / artbullshit / titles / quotes / paintings / photography / collage / tv / japan / comparecontrast / myfavoritecharts / artistsinpictures / mybrain'sdesktop / mistakes

Reading Choices

Matthew Collings / If Charlie Parker... / FourFour / Rouge's Foam / Conversation Reading

archive / comment / mixtape