Masanori Morikawa Was Told He's Never Good Enough

You'd never guess who said that to the Christian Dada founder and designer

In the six years since it was established, Christian Dada — founded by designer Masanori Morikawa — has achieved a level of success most labels would kill to have. The label has become one of the most recognisable Japanese exports, with its showy, loud pieces that often sport an anarchist, rebellious streak. Christian Dada has also scored coveted show spots at Paris Fashion Week and gained a celebrity following that includes Lady Gaga.

So how did Masanori Morikawa make it from the small Kagawa prefecture in Japan to the world’s largest fashion stage? As Christian Dada opened its first global flagship store right here in Singapore last month, we spoke to the designer for a look at the inner workings of his mind and brand.

1. You've said that your grandfather is a great influence on your brand, influencing both the 'Christian' in Christian Dada and the label's signature embroidery. How else has he inspired you?

His attitude towards work and his work ethic had a huge impact on me. I still remember him saying, “you should always stay hungry”, even when he was working late hours. He also gave me the best advice ever, telling me, to always remember that my work and myself are "never good enough".

2. Where do you find inspiration for your designs every season?

I’m constantly inspired by the people and everything around me. Inspiration can be found everywhere if you take time to observe the surroundings.

3. Describe Christian Dada in three words.

Dadaism, individuality, bold.

4. Describe the Christian Dada woman.

Christian Dada is designed for the bold individual who is not afraid to stand out. She is someone with individuality, someone who has a strong will and equally strong opinions. 

5. What was the inspiration for your Fall/Winter 2016 collection?

I encountered a series of works of Nobuyoshi Araki at a time when I was contemplating about life and death after witnessing consecutive catastrophes such as earthquakes, tsunami, terror attacks, wars, etc. I was impressed by the way Araki — who was suffering from a serious illness — deals with his illness. He took control of his situation, and translated his thoughts and emotions into his work. His attitude towards his work inspired me greatly. Then, by employing techniques like digital jacquard and yokoburi embroidery, I was able to reconstruct his work on my collection. Hence, the Fall/Winter 2016 collection is a reflection of Araki’s iconic bondage theme.

6. Describe your work studio. What do you keep around you?

I have English artist Jamie Reid’s “God Save The Queen” flag framed and hung on the wall right behind my desk, and lots of Western books around. I had plants too but they all died.

7. Why did you pick Singapore to set up your first flagship store outside of Tokyo?

Singapore is very cosmopolitan and everyone is so well-travelled, so we feel it’s an ideal place for us to open a flagship store. Also, given that our parent company D’League is based in Singapore, it was the natural choice too in terms of business opportunities.

8. What can shoppers expect when they visit your Singapore store? 

Something they’ve never experienced before. I believe that exceeding the expectations of customers is key. I like to create new and never-seen-before spaces that will provide customers with an interesting experience. In our Singapore flagship boutique, we have pockets of differentiated spaces from the main store area that customers can discover as they explore the boutique. For example, we have a sound core room where customers can enjoy a dramatic audiovisual experience in an intimate space complete with ambient music and mood lightings. The walls of the fitting rooms are also fully outfitted with mirrors to provide a 360°view of your outfit, which is perfect when you are shopping alone. 

9. Japanese and Singaporean style is very different  do you think your designs will translate here?

Well, the climate is very different and I am planning to have some more lightweight pieces like shirts to match the needs here while retaining my core collection concept each season. 

10. You’ve achieved tremendous success since your label was established in 2010, what do you think is the reason behind your rise?

Everything happened really organically. We are lucky to have the support of a strong parent company and good team members, which makes it even more possible. Also, I think we are doing something different compared to other brands, and that is getting the attention of consumers, so we've gained a good following.

11. What is the moment you were most proud of so far in your career?

Probably the time when I was privileged enough to have worked under French designer Charles Anastase, and now, being where I am. 

12. Where do you see Christian Dada in 5 years?

I am not trying to set a specific goal at the moment since the fashion industry moves and changes so rapidly and you need to be very attentive and yet unaffected at the same time. For now though, since we are just entering into Paris I would like to position Christian Dada in the fashion industry worldwide. 

Shop Christian Dada at #01-02 268 Orchard Road, for enquiries call 6585-1313.

For more on Fashion, head here. Or check out 7 New Zealand Fashion Labels To Look Out For or Monse Designer Duo Returns To Oscar De La Renta

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