The Created Myth by Masataka Ohta

Based in Nagoya, this Hyeres participant is inspired by ancient Japanese arts and creates clothes that are both simple and intricate in execution.

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I first had the pleasure of meeting Masataka Ohta in Berlin, where he was showing his SS 08 collection at the Ideal Showroom. It took me a while to notice the collection, as it wasn’t the type of thing that immediately jumps out at you at a trade show. However, quite like a precious flower growing in a vast field of bolder green, once you stop to take notice you are immediately intoxicated by its subtler beauty and difference. The oversized shapes in his collection are generally simple and perfect: lightweight and extremely comfortable to wear. Combined with original prints, which are often hand-rendered and vastly imaginative, Ohta’s clothing suggests a nostalgic and idealized childlike state, where dreams are the texture of reality and the poetry of the soul is the only reassurance we need.

Dazed Digital: Can you tell me a bit about your background? Where did you go to school? Have you always worked for your own label?
Masataka Ohta: I started making clothing as a hobby when I was a high school student. Adjusting the length of the trousers opened the door to the fashion. I went to small fashion school in Nagoya. Because of fight with teachers, I left the school. I always worked for my own label. My daily work is designing something new and producing my collection.

DD: What is the inspiration for your latest SS09 collection? What is the idea behind it?
MO: This season's inspiration is the creation myth. I created it from many real myths and my dreams. The brief story is of a solitary god who had harmony with nature. However, the acts of human folly made the god angry, so the god destroyed the whole world and re-created it.
I think a human grows up like the story.  And, as the story is shared with others, the story gets coloured beautifully through the translations.
I would like to create collections like this: that are colored and shaped by the many stories they tell.

DD: Are you inspired by other art or other fashion?
MO: I like Japanese old arts. Especially I like pictures, castles, and armours from 1500s-1800s that embody the Samurai spirit. Worker and military style fashion was the door to fashion for me. Those styles still influence my clothing today.

DD: What is your approach to fashion? I know that you have done many installations and art collaborations, as well as a clothing collection. Can you explain some of these other projects? Do they relate to your brand/clothing? If so, how?
MO: I think fashion is an important point for me creatively, and it creates a concern for others who might wear my clothing. Therefore, I study human interactions through fashion: beliefs and habits.
For instance, the theme (of my collection) at the Hyeres fashion festival 2007 was "Silent Man". That was the fictitious person created by me. And the theme of the installation there was the person's religious affiliation. The installation: masks, hats, and fabric patterns for the collection is belonged to the history of that fictitious world. Everything, including my collection, is part of the story of the silent man's world. And the silent man is me.
I am also directing an experimental video work with some friends now.  This project is proposed to express my next collection. Now that we can enjoy video almost anywhere and anytime, I think video is suitable medium to express my imaginary world.

DD: What drives you creatively?
MO: I would like to be free on spirit always. I think the creating something is the only way to be free for me. So I have to create.

DD: What sort of person do you design for?
MO: On a superficial level, I design for my joy. Therefore, I design for the person who can enjoy it.  I would like to make clothes that make people feel happier when they wear it.

DD: Do you have any fashion idols: people from the industry (past or present) who you admire?
MO: Not especially now. I'm happy when I am able to make things with my own natural stance. However I still have a lot to study to obtain it.

DD: You are based in Nagoya, where you have your own boutique.  What are the benefits/difficulties of being located outside of a major fashion capital? What is your favorite thing about Nagoya, and why do you choose to stay there?
MO: I have lived in Nagoya in 20 years. Here, I can enjoy my lifestyle without trivial rumors. And I can have perspectives on fashion capitals in other areas without being too immersed in one. That is also the point.  However, I hardly see people who stimulate my creativity or give me chances.
Nagoya is not too capital, not too countryside. I like the food here.  These days, I have noticed this city is beautiful!  I may say I would enjoy living anywhere in the world, however still I'm here. This means there might be something I should do here.  And if I need to be in another place, the chance may come to me someday.
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