IKEMEN (ē´k´mɛn): Japanese Slang
"REALLY, REALLY, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD LOOKING PEOPLE"
NORITAKA TATEHANA EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Who believes that Samurai still exists in Japan nowadays? A man with high aspirations and adhere unwaveringly to his principles. The forerunners of the Samurai were men who served the nobility as guards, roughly a thousand year ago in Japan. NORITAKA TATEHANA is like a Samurai without either an armor or sword. The samurai values continue to be the soul of him. NORITAKA TATEHANA is a shoe designer based in Tokyo. LADY GAGA is attracted to his typical collection “heelless shoes”, his fame worldwide after LADY GAGA wore his shoes. “Everything is timing.” He said. “Nobody can plot to be famous. It was chemistry that LADY GAGA and I worked together at the time.” He graduated in TOKYO UNIVERSTIY OF ARTS, he sent an email to LADY GAGA’s stylist directly, NICOLA FORMICHETTI, to show his art project which was done in place of a graduation thesis at the university. The stylist asked him to make shoes for LADY GAGA shortly, because the time was just before she would visit Japan. After that, he made several shoes for LADY GAGA and spread his name “NORITAKA TATEHANA” to all over the world. His shoes have been stored up in lots of museums and many celebrities ask him to make shoes for themselves. A pair of shoes is custommade about $20,000 right now.
Not many people can get such an expensive pair of shoes, but some people visit Japan only the purpose to get his shoes. As you imagine, he is able to earn even more money that making popular shoes with a low price than only custommade. In fact, a lot of people suggested making for general, but he kept refusing. “It is a part of Japanese culture.” He explained. “I could not help but wonder, how people discriminate the good from the bad. There are a lot of good shoe designers, “good” does not mean popular in this case. I would like to settle worth each my work and covey to many people. What I want is originating force to get people known Japanese culture and tradition.”
Getting started being interested in making shoes and clothes since he was 15 years old. He studied Japanese pictures, sculptures, dying and waving in the university. Especially he focusing on making Kimono and Geta with Yuzendying. Yuzendyed fabrics are traditional craft in Kyoto and technique devised by painter YUZENSAI MIYAZAKI in Edo period. “Heelless shoe” is designed by mixed modern shoes and Geta, is Japanese courtesans used to wear a thousand year ago. “Each industrial art object has story. We can see Japanese culture and generation through the industrial art object.” Although it should not change dramatically with the times in principle, it is undeniable that some of them may undergo a change with the times. Things are called industrial art objects would be daily necessities in the past. Craftsmen are getting decrease with the time. And even if they work well, they need to make mass production such as souvenir. He feels apprehensive for the Japanese noble. “We can not beyond people in the past, because objects and craftsmen were demanded at the generation and people attempted to improve for their life, but these are not necessary in this generation. What we need is not only leaving their skill and our culture to posterity, but also to cherish the ties of history, evolved into a new style of contemporary.” That is the reason why his art is highly regarded worldwide. His works show Japanese genealogy and represent the forefront of the Japanese genealogy, as like a thing condenses genealogy and express it momentary. “We need to gather to get bigger originating force as a school in old Japanese pictures.”
Unfortunately not many Japanese people try to leave Japanese culture for the future, they tend to focus on others globally. However, it is never striking without basis. “My works have been exhibited in other countries more than in Japan. This is a good opportunity to show Japanese culture for Japanese people and what our identity is.” Now his works are exhibited in Tokyo at 21_21 DESIGN SIGHT. From September 10th, at SHOW STUDIO in London and BROOKLYN MUSEUM in New York will exhibit his work. “Not have to share everything, but I would like to convey to many people.” Now he is such a worldfamous shoe designer, but never be arrogant, is very modesty and down to earth. Just like Samurai would guard their master, he is attempting making his works loyally and spiritedly. You can feel his personality and passion through his works, which are avantgarde and faithfully following the basis. People believe he marks a new chapter in the history. The new chapter is still right in the middle of new history. We bet he will show us new future traditions from now on.
WRITTEN BY: ELIE INOUE
EDIT BY: MAY MUNEOKA
PHOTO CREDIT: NORITAKA TATEHANA