By Roshannah Bagley
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand:: Taking inspiration from the innocent and sinister undertones found in childhood fairytales, Reiko Fukuda’s acclaimed collection “Mr. Madame” debuted last year at Auckland University of Technology’s annual Rookie show. Here FAULT speaks to Fukuda about her graduate collection as she prepares for her postgraduate studies.
FAULT:: What was your inspiration for your graduate collection Mr. Madame?
Reiko:: My main inspiration came from the films Beetlejuice and Alice in Wonderland – but I wanted to look further into the movies than just the aesthetic inspiration, more to do with the mood of the films. I hadn’t seen Alice in Wonderland since I was a kid and was surprised at how sinister the undertone of the movie actually was, it has a really strong and obvious drug reference, and Beetlejuice has this idea of death. When I was younger I saw Alice as an innocent fairytale-like story but that now seems creepy because it is a children’s cartoon. So my idea of how our perceptions change from childhood into adulthood led me to the idea of innocence smothering darkness. For my collection I approached it from an adult’s perspective – the innocence becomes transparent and we can see the strong darkness underneath, which I tried to portray through the use of sheer fabrics and the strong structured underwear. Because the main outer garments are all taken from traditional menswear pieces I named my collection Mr. Madame, although they are menswear garments the use of fabric makes them the complete opposite and even has a slightly fetish aesthetic. And so I referenced the term madam commonly used for sex workers in French.
FAULT:: Which fashion designers inspire you?
Reiko:: For my collection Mr. Madame I got my main influence from a particular men’s fashion editorial. A lot of different designers influenced me in different ways, but one of the main influences was Rei Kawakubo. I like the way she interprets childlike themes and makes them aesthetically mature. Designers such as Balenciaga, Givenchy and Ann Demeulemeester also had a very strong influence on my collection.
FAULT:: Is there an ideal Reiko Fukuda woman? If so how would you describe her?
Reiko:: For our final collections as a student I feel we were able to create a collection that wasn’t necessary swayed by any commercial aspect, but we were encouraged to have a very clear idea of what out ideal customer would be. My ideal customer would be someone who appreciates the work of people in all creative fields and surrounds her life with beautiful things that she loves. I guess someone who has the same idea as me of what is fashionable and gets excited when she puts on my clothing.
FAULT:: As an up and coming designer in New Zealand, how much difficulty are you having in the industry?
Reiko:: Luckily having my collection being represented by Showroom 22 (New Zealand’s leading fashion PR agency) makes this a little easier in terms of being able to have my collection known by stylists and magazine editors. But I am going to be doing my postgraduate Honours at Massey University in Wellington this year so I have not yet experienced the industry. The fashion industry in New Zealand is very small so you really have to get yourself out there which is difficult, but I also think that New Zealander’s are very supportive of new creative talent.
FAULT:: What are you working on at the moment?
Reiko:: At this point I have been having a break from an intense third year at AUT and preparing for my postgraduate study, but I will be starting my new collection very soon.
FAULT:: Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Reiko:: I hope that I will be designing overseas in a market that is possibly more competitive but rewarding as well. I hope that in five years I can walk down the street and see people wearing my designs. That would be a dream!