My Bag

Japanese designer Masanori Morikawa on Lady Gaga donning his clothes

Morikawa, the founder of Christian Dada, admits that was the turning point in his career

His clothes have been worn by the likes of American singer-songwriter Lady Gaga and Korean pop star G-Dragon, but Japanese fashion designer Masanori Morikawa thinks that is "nothing special".

While the reticent founder of Japanese label Christian Dada respectfully acknowledges that Lady Gaga donning his outfits was a "turning point" in his career that exposed him to a wider audience, he becomes only visibly more enthused when speaking about contemporary Japanese artist Takashi Murakami.

The 54-year-old artist - clad in customised clothing from Christian Dada, including a long grungy jacket splattered with paint - appeared on the cover of the April-June edition of Time Out Tokyo magazine this year.

Morikawa, 32, says: "I've always been a fan of his and it was really exciting to work with him. It was an honour."

The designer was in town last month for the official opening of the label's first store here at 268 Orchard Road. The flagship store is the first outpost outside of Japan.

Morikawa tells The Straits Times that opening in Singapore was a natural choice considering that the brand is backed by Singapore-based investment group D'League.


Masanori Morikawa is known for his deconstructed designs and detailed embroidery. PHOTOS: DIOS
VINCOY JR FOR THE
STRAITS TIMES

Known for his deconstructed designs and detailed embroidery, Morikawa's love of art is also reflected in his Fall/Winter 2016 collection, a collaboration with Japanese contemporary artist and photographer Nobuyoshi Araki.

In 2013, Araki lost vision in his right eye due to a retinal artery obstruction and shot photographs for a series titled Love On The Left Eye. He used black marker to colour the right side of the film before the prints were developed.

The photographs reflected Araki's vision - the left side shows a clear image, while the right side is clouded.

Inspired by the collection, Morikawa incorporated the shots into his clothes.

He says: "His art reflects life and death, black and white, and I was inspired by the contrast and duality. He also battled cancer before losing sight in his right eye. I was inspired by his attitude, that he used his low points to create art."

Morikawa started Christian Dada in 2010. He says cryptically, that "Christian" is from his grandfather's name and also takes a swipe at prominent maisons such as Christian Dior and Christian Louboutin.

He explains: "While I respect the big labels, I didn't want to be in the system of fashion. I don't want to follow the major brands but to create my own positioning."

As for Dada, it is derived from dadaism - an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century whose anarchy Morikawa loves.

The bachelor's interest in fashion was sparked by his grandparents' embroidery business. He attended a fashion school in Japan before working for a while as a designer at a Japanese fashion label he declines to disclose.

  • ON HIS BAG

  • It is a simple bag that is big enough to carry all my things and can match different outfits.

From 2005 to 2007, he worked under fashion designer Charles Anastase in London. In the years that followed, he started another fashion label with a friend before differing creative visions led to Morikawa breaking away to start his own label.

Christian Dada has since been on the runway at Tokyo Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week.

Asked about future plans for the label, Morikawa says: "I don't want to set goals because I feel that they restrict me. As a brand, I want to grow organically. Fashion changes so fast now - it's important to see, feel and respond to what is happening in the environment rather than have fixed goals."


Things in his bag

LA TULIPE FROM BYREDO

I think a recognisable scent is important and adds to your personality and people’s impression of you. This perfume smells like tulips and I’ve been using it for three years.

GLASSES FROM JAPAN

I find it difficult to find sunglasses that suit my face, but I think that this shape fits my style. I have six or seven pairs that are in this similar round shape. I’ll wear the ones with transparent lenses at night and the other pair during the day.

FORTUNE AMULET

I got this from a friend earlier this year. He got it from a temple. It is for protection and luck and I keep it in my wallet.

CHEWING GUM FROM JAPAN

I like the mint taste. I’m always travelling, which can be tiring, so this wakes me up.

WALLET FROM JAPANESE LABEL GORO’S

This label is famous in Japan for its Native American jewellery. I like the size of this wallet because it fits in my pocket and is easy to carry around.

KEYS

These are for my Porsche 911, apartment and office. The key chain is from a friend.  It’s from Prada and I think it is very useful.

BEANIE FROM CHRISTIAN DADA

This is a sample piece that I got sometime ago. I wear it when I’m feeling more casual and don’t feel like styling my hair.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2016, with the headline 'Lady Gaga donning his clothes - it's no big deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe