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“Love On The Right Side” Nobuyoshi Araki
From Love On The Right SidePhotography Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki makes a surprise fashion week appearance

This season, Christian Dada collaborated with the photographer to incorporate a series of his work into a collection adorned with buckles, belts and ties

Nobuyoshi Araki is the provocative Japanese photographer whose career has spanned more than three decades. From powerful images of women suspended in mid-air and bound by ropes to intimate portraits of his wife in the throes of climax, Araki’s portraits incite emotion and, unsurprisingly, have gone on to be frequently cited as a point of reference in the fashion world. His work is not restricted to the art world – he shot actress and model Rila Fukushima for the Winter 2015 issue of Dazed and, more recently collaborated with Christian Dada on its AW16 collection. The brand’s creative director Masanori Morikawa sought out Araki after being inspired by his work – specifically, by a series of work entitled “Love On The Left Eye”.

Originally shown at Tokyo’s Taka Ishii gallery back in 2014, the series is the result of a retinal artery obstruction which rendered Araki blind in his right eye the year before. Shot on slide film, each photograph was taken and subsequently filled in on the right side with a magic marker, creating an artistic approximation of life through Araki’s eyes. Morikawa was inspired by the message of “life and death” which ran through the exhibition. “I came across works of Araki, which often employ the theme in his own very unique way, and that was what sort of gave me the idea for the collection,” he said.

In fact, the designer was so inspired by Araki’s photographs that he found ways to literally incorporate them into the clothing, using a technique of digital jacquard, printing and embroidery. Throughout a collection which featured frayed denim flares and knits screen-printed with Japanese calligraphy, a number of sartorial nods to Araki were noticeable. The inclusion of hanging buckles, ties and braided rope detailing were a clear nod towards the bondage imagery that is a recurring trope in Araki’s work. 

The photographer may now be 75 years old, but he insists that sartorial tributes like Morikawa’s stiill thrill him now as much as ever. “It is so fun to see my work transformed into other forms,” he said, “It’s like adding a new story to my work. I like to see that it keeps spreading like that through people so the spirit will be inherited to younger generations.” The spirit that Araki refers to is still very much alive and well despite referring to his fear that “death is always coming – I don’t want to approach it myself – but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s coming, you just have to laugh it off!”