Tucked away behind an autobody shop facade and amongst galleries in New York's Chelsea neighborhood, you'll find the entrance to the world of Comme des Garçons, where last week designer Kei Ninomiya hosted a presentation of his Spring/Summer 2015 collection. The mohawked designer is the latest of Rei Kawakubo's protegés to launch his own line, noir by kei ninomiya, which after only four seasons was presented for the first time in Paris last Fall. Kei Ninomiya spoke to Document Journal about how he came to know fashion and his approach to garment making.
Kei grew up in southern Japan, where even in a countryside town, there's a Comme des Garçons shop. Small, this shop was Kei's first glimpse into Comme des Garçons. He remembers: "The feeling is completely different than in other fashion shops. The world of Comme des Garçons is so surprising. I was really interested in that world. But I didn't think about fashion. I was and still am really interested in English literature, Japanese literature, and French literature—I studied that in university."
So how did Kei go from reading Éluard and Verlaine in the library to creating collections with the support of Rei Kawakubo? "Near my university in Aoyama, there is a big Comme des Garçons shop," said Kei. He would go visit the store on study breaks, and through these visits learned of fashion and Rei's aesthetic vision.
I don't have any inspiration. My aim is to make new things.
After finishing his studies in Tokyo, Kei decided he wanted to work with Rei and made it happen: He enrolled in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp and one year during summer vacation back in Japan secured an interview with her. He was offered a job as a patternmaker and left school in Antwerp to being under her tutelage. That was 2008, and four years later Rei approached him to started his own line.
Kei says of his collections,"Actually, I don't have any inspiration. My aim is to make new things. And to make new things, I create new techniques.” His Spring/Summer 2015 collection is made completely without sewing—the faux leathers and fabrics are folded, moulded, layered, and attached together with studs. "I start with a small study and I then place it on the body.” For Kei, it's important to create an architecture around the body through his garments; even the final patterns look more akin to schematics than a flat clothing pattern. His methodology for creation maybe be different than most, but seems to fit perfectly well in the Comme des Garçons universe.
The Spring/Summer collection of noir by kei ninomiya is on sale now at Comme des Garçons, 520 W 22nd St, New York, NY 10011, and other stockists worldwide.