Pressure Space: Junya Watanabe’s astro-girls

Tomihiro Kono and Isamaya Ffrench on creating retro-futuristic muses for SS15 and how working with the elusive designer is like solving riddles

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Isamaya Ffrench + Junya Watanabe Pressure Space, Dazed
All clothes and accessories by Junya Watanabe SS15Photography Nicolas Coulomb, styling Agata Belcen

Finding the off-kilter in uniformity, make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench was the mastermind behind the smudged lips and sealed-off mouths at Junya Watanabe’s space-age SS15 show. Collaborating with hair stylist Tomihiro Kono, the duo’s mechanical brides wore vac-packed PVC with dangerous pop-art precision. Taking their show concept one step further for this Dazed shoot, the malfunctioning mannequins have gone into overdrive – a chance, for Kono, to develop the 2D symbolism of his hair-helmets. Part Oskar Schlemmer, part pure imagination, the arresting design was the result of a trial-and-error process. “Junya doesn’t tell me about the concept or clothes, so it’s not so easy to reach the final design,” he says. “He sends us clues,” adds Ffrench. “Like solving riddles.”

What was the inspiration behind the beauty looks for Junya Watanabe SS15?

Isamaya Ffrench: I was inspired by the precision of industrially produced objects and their synthetic material make-up. The idea that something can appear to be mass-produced, but contain technical glitches that can subtly affect the overall appearance of the object, thus giving it a kind of personality.

How does the collaborative process work with Watanabe ? Are make-up and hair the very final things to be considered, or do they co-evolve with the collection? 

Tomihiro Kono: My proposals start about a month before the show, and I have to struggle finding what Junya wants. But as we went forward, we found some common keywords that led me to the flat head pieces.

Isamaya Ffrench: It’s quite a secretive process. Junya sends us clues, each one leading to a little bit more information about the collection. We don’t see anything until a day or two before the show.

“Junya sends us clues, each one leading to a little bit more information about the collection. We don’t see anything until a day or two before the show” – Isamaya Ffrench

How did you further develop the vision that began on the runway for the Dazed shoot?

Isamaya Ffrench: It has been a while since the original show so we decided it would be cool to expand the narrative and work that ageing process onto these plastic mannequin characters. That original precision might have degraded, colour might have rubbed off, features might have broken off, etc.

Tomihiro Kono: Also, I wanted to try what could be done differently within a 2D editorial. In the show, it’s fun to see the head pieces from the different angles, to realise they’re wearing flat head pieces. But in editorial the head pieces looks good from the front. It’s very symbolic, and expresses some hairstyles.

There seems to be a sense of severe restriction in the beauty and overall styling – the way the model’s mouths are taped, for instance.

Isamaya Ffrench: It was influenced by the materials used for the clothes. They are such precise head pieces and garments, we wanted to do something that reflects that uniform but slightly off-kilter stiffness. 

Tomihiro Kono: In my opinion, it might be about humans becoming robots. How people are becoming more digitised and emotionless, getting rid of their true personalities.

All clothes and accessories by Junya Watanabe SS15; photography Nicolas Coulomb; artistic direction Florence Tétier; styling Agata Belcen; production Romain at Cats & Dogs; hair Tomi Kono at Julian Watson Agency; make-up Isamaya Ffrrench at Streeters; nails Philippe Ovak at Marie-France Thavonekham; models Zoe and Dasha at Elite Model Management; styling assistant Gabriel Lahanque; hair assistant Rimi Ura; make-up assistants Josh Wilks, Alisonn Fetouaki; retouching at Artifices; digital operator Carl at Sheriff; casting Noah Shelley

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