SOMARTA focuses on the beauty of the female body, and is a brand that pursues feminine beauty and further enhances one’s beauty through clothing. The clothes, which are body-conscious while also giving an air of artistic beauty rather than sexiness, attract women. Ms. Hirokawa, whose ideal female image is “feminine and strong, yet also kind; in between a girl and a woman” talked to us about her latest collection and her passion towards fashion.
The theme of your 2011 Spring / Summer collection, “MICROCOSMOGRAPHIA” is quite unique. How did you end up choosing this as your theme?
Hirokawa：The theme of my previous season（2010-11 Fall / Winter）was “Chamber of Curiosity,” but this was based on the “MICROCOSMOGRAPHIA Mark Dion’s ‘Chamber of Curiosities’” exhibit, which was an exhibit conducted jointly by the American modern artist Mark Dion and Tokyo University. Afterwards, I read the book “MICROCOSMOGRAPHIA Mark Dion’s ‘Chamber of Curiosities’” by Yoshiaki Nishino of Tokyo University, who supervised the exhibit, and decided to borrow the term MICROCOSMOGRAPHIA and use it as my theme.
Both extract a certain part, like a “portion of a room” and feature this portion. Last season’s collection portrayed the pure sensations of thrill and excitement, such as organisms and minerals that could actually be seen by people. However, this time, I imagined a micro-world such as a microcosm, in which your field of vision could be broadened by changing your viewpoint. If you look closely, you can see a lot of details in the textiles, such as shiny prints with 3D textures. I wanted to convey new emotions that arise from the curiosity of looking at something, rather than the passive emotion of being able to see.
SOMARTA originally introduced the “skin series” that featured non-sewn knitwear, and it has the image of focusing on details such as skin and cells.
Hirokawa：I think that my taste hasn’t changed（laughs）. I always loved anthropology and biology, and this has influenced my designs.
Your 2011 Spring / Summer show was also a spectacular show befitting the finale. How was the public reaction after the show?
Hirokawa：Many people said that they were “touched,” which made me happy. In particular, the skin series with full embroidery and blue beads in the second half of the show［photo left］and the two light-feathery pieces towards the end of the show［photo middle・right］were popular.
What made you want to become a designer?
Hirokawa：I always liked art, and had vague dreams of wanting a job making things in the future. When it was time to decide on a future career path in high school, I debated whether to go to an art school since I wanted to become a specialist, but I decided to become a fashion designer and chose to attend a professional training college.
I was in the art club. I’d always loved people since I was small, and drew lots of picture of people. I also often looked at fashion magazines and was attracted to the image of beautiful women, and dreamed about being able to have a job where I could depict such beautiful female images.
After graduating from school, you joined Issey Miyake, and then established SOMA DESIGN. What do you think looking back?
Hirokawa：I worked at Issey Miyake for about eight years. I worked in both the ladies’ and men’s collections, and was in charge of knitwear. The company was very broad-minded about creations, so I was able to learn a lot. I started off managing the men’s collection and then moved on to the ladies’ collection, but I got to know the entire cycle of the（apparel）work, and decided to take the next step and set up my own business. I was thirty at the time, and since I’d worked at a company during my 20s, I decided that I wanted to spend my 30s doing something that I liked.
When I launched SOMA DESIGN, it was just me, but now we have members specializing in music and graphic arts. I wanted to work in designs in the broad sense that wasn’t just limited to fashion, so SOMA DESIGN is really a design company rather than an apparel company. I was always interested in art, architecture, and product design, so I feel that it would be interesting to work in fields other than fashion while also taking advantage of my fashion skills.
In fact, SOMA DESIGN has produced everything from the brand image to graphics, music, and video images of the SOMATA collection.
The men’s and ladies’ brand “MOLFIC”（designer: Takashi Mori）which held its first show in 2011 Spring / Summer is also affiliated with SOMA DESIGN, but I felt that it was a brand with a different directionality from SOMARTA. Are there plans for men’s clothing for SOMARTA?
Hirokawa：The designer Takashi Mori is also affiliated with SOMA DESIGN, but SOMARTA and MOLFIC have completely different qualities. MOLFIC’s approach to clothing is similar to product design and is a brand that uses different methods and is focused on different areas from SOMARTA, using industrial machines for production, etc.
As for whether we will develop men’s clothing for SOMARTA… in fact, we have many requests for men’s clothing and we have a lot of your male fans, so we would like to develop men’s clothing eventually. However, I feel that we have to develop clothes with a different perspective（from the women’s line）.