Hi Yuta and Erika, I just want to say congratulations on kielo; 's first collection. The collection is amazing and I am amazed by it. So, what made you two want to work together on a collection?
In answering this question, we’d like to talk about our background a little. Erika and I met while studying fashion design at the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. After the 2nd year, we were provided with the opportunity to showcase our work during the fashion week in Zurich (Switzerland), for a show called Kostume, which is intended for young and upcoming designers like ourselves. In participating, we decided to create a capsule collection together that includes both men and women’s wear.
So Kostume is the catalyst that puts you two together and create this capsule collection! Well, how did you come up with “kielo;”? What does the word “kielo;” mean?
Kielo represents the vision and aesthetics of Erika and I, as designers. We both adore and are greatly inspired by the Nordic culture, so we wanted to name our label after something related to the culture. “Kielo” is a Finnish word, which means “lily of the valley”. We liked the way the word “kielo” sounds, and were also attracted to the silent and subtle beauty of the flower. The semi-colon at the end of kielo is intended to indicate the idea that we want to link people with unique style and aesthetics as one through our brand artistically, just like how a semi-colon links related clauses together in a sentence.
Wow, if you didn't tell me that, I would never get the meaning of the ; behind the word. I like when a brand name has a story to tell, just like yours. Now let's get back to the collection, what is the inspiration of it?
At first, we didn’t really have any concrete idea of what the collection was going to be about, but we just had a rather vague idea that we wanted to use products of nature and to celebrate its beauty. We started gathering images of stones, minerals, pearls, stars, glaciers, and colors that were produced by nature in landscapes.
I think it was during this time that we saw two Japanese anime films, “Princess Mononoke” and “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind” by Hayao Miyazaki, and we were greatly inspired by the protagonists in both films who are human beings who strive to coexist with nature and its rules, rather than attempting to conquer it. In both Miyazaki films, human civilization and its advancement in technology creates a conflict between nature and human beings, due to greed. Inspired by the storyline, we imagined a scientist who is obsessed with the idea of controlling nature, but gradually learns to lead a harmonic life with nature by celebrating its beauty. Interpreting science as a means to decode the mystery of nature and to reproduce or to control natural phenomena, we looked to the ancient Greek astronomers and the way they dressed for inspiration, as the Greeks have had a long history in the investigation in the field of natural science.
We eventually broadened garment reference to Greek ethnical costumes, and incorporated shapes, volumes, details, and styling from them. In modernizing the traditional costumes, we used a wide range of color palettes and prints, inspired by products of nature. Especially for the prints, we made them into a kaleidoscopic view to suggest the astronomer’s perspective of nature. Detail wise, the cuts of the garments are liner and sharp, which are details extracted from star signs, and the majority of items have almost no visible fastening, as they are concealed by fly fronts. Skirt-like trousers and voluminous shapes for men’s garments were interesting elements we found in Greek costumes and incorporated.
The collection starts off by a total black look, with little skin exposure, but gradually the color palette lightens up and there is more sheerness in the fabrics toward the end, suggesting the change in the astronomer’s physical and psychological state.
Judging from the inspiration photos, I am fascinated to see how you two have turned those ideas into a great collection. This is truly inspiring! Was there any difficulty when creating this collection?
For one thing, there wasn’t any difficulty working together as a duo designer at all, as we have an amazing chemistry between the two of us. However, there were technical challenges that we had to face. Since our team currently comprises of only the two of us, we really had to do everything from zero to ten, all by ourselves. We not only designed the outfits, but we also made all the patterns, stitched them, designed and ordered prints, created all accessory pieces, and managed communication with various people (e.g. the organizers of the fashion show, photographers, stylists, models etc.) in reaching the final product. So many times during the process of the collection, we wished we had an assistant, at least for the management and communication side of the label! Nonetheless, we learned so much from our experience, which would no doubt be gainful for us as professional in the future.
It's amazing to see how much you two have achieved with this collection and I hope soon you two will have team to work for kielo;. So, which pieces (1 from menswear and 1 from womenswear) can best represent your collection? Why?
As we have explained earlier, the collection forms one whole story with all eight outfits together, so it’s not possible to pick out one particular outfit and speak about its significance. It would be like tearing out a page from a novel and trying to make sense out of it.
Yep, I totally understand that and I think kielo; has 8 very solid and beautiful pieces. They are so dreamy! What is the future plan of kielo;?
We hope to expand our collection and label in terms of size. We are really starting from zero straight out of school, so we find it important to build upon the foundation of our label, both financially and systematically in order to realize our vision as designers. At the moment we are based in Tokyo, Japan, but in the near future we hope to return to Europe again, as there are more opportunities and support for young and aspiring designers. Japan is a bit too bureaucratic and tradition-oriented for young artists to work and express themselves freely.
I really hope kielo; will break into the Europe scene and yes, I can vision that happen since you two have a very European style. Will you two continue to work on new collections for kielo;?
We plan to continue to work together as a team in the future. Though we are a new-born label, we feel that our signature design/style is the fragile, poetic, dreamy, and dark romanticism reflected in our designs.
That's great to hear and I can't wait to see more amazing collections from you two! Last but not least, if you two could dress a celebrity/top model in Kielo Kielo, who would you choose? Why?
Since Erika designs women’s wear and I (Yuta) design men’s wear, we’d both like to answer this question separately.
I don’t like to limit the wearer to a particular type of person, so instead I will say that I would love to see women of diverse nationality in my pieces. I’m interested in seeing the effect and result that can be obtained by dressing people of various skin color, hair color, eye color, religious and cultural background which are all beautiful products of the physical/cultural environment that they have spent their lives in. Of course I may propose certain ways of styling the outfits together in my collection, but I would love to see people combing them in their own way freely.
Though the inspiration for the collection may vary from one to another, I always have a man who at glance may look very withdrawn, fragile, and evanescent on the outside, but is very strong, confident, stable, and free-spirited in the inside in mind. I never find the traditional form of masculinity attractive. I believe that strength comes from within and a truly strong man does not have to show off. I like men who are androgynous and possess a sense of softness.
Encountering people who possess qualities of a young child and a mature grown-up coexisting inside them is so inspiring for me. I am often inspired by musicians, artists, and poets. I would love to collaborate and to dress people with artistic talents in other fields of art, and to exchange and share ideas with them.
This is the end of my introduction of kielo to you readers and I hope you will have Yuta Yajima and Erika Mizuno on your fashion agenda right now. I truly believe in their works and I wish them all the best in the future! All images are courtesy of kielo;.