Beloved street style photographer Bill Cunningham once said that "fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life." With that saying always in my back pocket, I watched Japanese designer Teppei Fujita's latest collection for his brand Sulvam expecting to be shaken up by his looks.
What I didn't expect was that the Nina who sat down for the Sulvam Fall 2017 show would not be the same woman who got up immediately after it. I was changed, exhilarated, inspired and in love.
So how does a fashion brand, or better a designer do that, change the world? By creating an armor, to quote the late Mr. Cunningham, that not only protects against the chaos of humanity at the moment, but also feels like couture -- something precious and unique to the wearer. Even owning the shoe laces that were tied strategically around his models' ankles and hung from their necks -- and which were used as ribbons for the giveaway black scarves we found on our seats before the show -- felt like I was getting a piece of unique, wonderful Sulvam style.
I could not resist having my photo taken with Fujita, who is taller than I expected in real life, and sports a striking tattoo in black ink on his chest. His voice is strong and self assured, and while our conversation may have been lost in translation, I still felt like we communicated via our clothes. Through our personal style, which is how so much non-verbal communication comes across.
Probably the fact that Sulvam is a brand that cuts across barriers, crosses effortlessly borders of language, culture and gender so perfectly didn't hurt. Easily interchangeable between male and female models, most of the looks shown inside the Stazione Leopolda for the presentation at this season's Pitti Uomo in Florence were awe-inspiring but also crave-worthy. And what Fujita himself wore, with that peekaboo of red bandana showing through the elegant black and white, was fashion genius.
And now to a final thought, before leaving you with his Q & A, a short but sweet taste of the wonder that is Teppei Fujita. What if our strongest armor turned out to be the softest lining and the sheer essence of the easiest black suit? Or maybe camouflage reinvented could protect us in the world at large, by creating a cocoon like the one shaped by this coat (pictured above). Whatever the answer, fashion, what you wear, will always change the way you feel and thus, the way you interact with the humanity around you. So choose wisely, dress to suit yourself, before you venture out into the world.
What are some things from your collection for Fall '17 that we can begin to use in our everyday life?
Teppei Fujita: Everything. In particular, the shoelaces and the long belts.
What was your inspiration for this particular collection?
Fujita: I didn't have any particular inspiration but I always make clothes to match whatever comes up in my mind and whatever my mood is.
Do you listen to music while you're creating?
Fujita: Yes. Old music. I like hip hop, rap and also jazz and house music. The older the better.
Do you listen to music while you sketch?
Fujita: I don't sketch! I drape and make patterns but I don't "design".
If you had to describe yourself to someone who doesn't know you, what would you say?
Fujita: I do everything by my mood. Whatever comes up in my mind, I do.
So you'd say you're very impulsive and instinctual?
Fujita: Yes. I like people a lot. (There is a laugh shared between Fujita and his translator and then, as if on cue, he says...) And I like girls too!
Check out the video of the runway show here.
All photos courtesy of Pitti Immagine, used with permission.