Biography

Art Director / Product Designer / Graphic Designer / KIMONO / Fashion stylist  
Passion Yoko
– Biography –
Passion Yoko has been interested in kimono design since early childhood when she was first inspired by her grandmother who was a kimono seamstress. After graduating from art school, she was put in charge of art direction and product design at a major Japanese apparel company. While working there, she got Consultant’s license in kimono history and design, and also trained as a kimono dresser in Ginza. She then started pursuing further studies in fashion styling independently and established her own design firm “Kirameki Girls from Tokyo. ” In 2012, she shifted her base to the United States and is currently living and working in New York. She obtained her Green Card in 2013. Her style incorporates elements not only from kimono design, but also from traditional and contemporary western fashion and design. By realizing the deep historical resonances between fashion and the larger world of art, she is able to build a new and unique vision that incorporates this larger intellectual perspective. She believes it is her mission to bring these new ideas into the world of fashion, both to reinvigorate it and to elevate how it integrates with society as a whole.

– Philosophy –
My point of view about creation – Part 1
I’ve always been focused on how clothes affect human psychology, especially in the intersecting fields of the Japanese traditional kimono and western clothes.  That is to say, I am ultimately interested in “the emotion of clothes,” more so than in their texture or color, per se, or a certain technique surrounding their design.
After leaving Japan, I started to see that people in other cultures had a lot admiration for the kimono, and that it had a certain amount of intrigue and fascination for them.  I asked myself why people living outside of Japan respected it so much. I concluded that, with the kimono, people were seeing and appreciating not external beauty so much, but more an internal beauty of the beholder, such as the spirit of the Japanese, Japanese manners, and an attitude or behavior inherited from their past culture,
For my first project working with Kimonos, I focused on not dressing up a model in a kimono in a traditional or tidy way. It created a lot of controversy. Some said, “this is not a Kimono. It’s brutal to look at!” Or some said, “I’ve never seen something like this before. It’s amazing!” What’s more, many asked me why I chose not to make a Kimono in the traditional style.
I just wanted to express “beauty,” in a way that was out of the box. I wanted people to question whether it was really true that the traditional kimono style was the only or best way to express Japanese “beauty.”  Fundamentally, I wanted to give people a new perspective on beauty.
I also wanted to express “the beauty of passion” through that work.  I wanted to add something of the traditional beauty and aesthetics of Japan called “wabi sabi,” which comes from “quietness” and “modesty” < HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi_sabi“>.
When it comes to “beauty,” people might usually imagine a woman, like an actress in a film who wears a gorgeous and elegant dress and has ample cleavage, a curvy body, long legs, and a sensual nape of the neck.  However, I soon started to question if beauty was only about physical appearance. Wouldn’t ‘beauty’ originally come from the ‘emotion’ which is on the inside of women?” I realized beauty comes from something emotional, something beyond the surface, such as a look in her eyes showing a strong will.
These are all still fundamental elements in my basic philosophy.
At the outset of this project, I just wanted to discover something new about beauty and in the end, I developed a new perspective on the nature of beauty and wanted others to gain new perspectives as well.
In my opinion, what drives one forward in every business is a certain quest for creativity. It’s the quest that’s important and without it, creativity wouldn’t exist. I prioritize a quest towards creativity first, not a quest towards commercialism. I believe that what enables us to create a successful business is creativity, dreams and imagination.
So, what it the current state of the kimono? While we still see the kimono as a national Japanese costume, today’s young Japanese don’t even know how to wear it.  Over time, new technology, skills, and techniques in the design and manufacture of textiles were developed. This is excellent, but no one has put much effort towards further developing the kimono. I think creativity surrounding the kimono has been gradually losing its edge.  The kimono industry has been interested in developing textile and dyeing technology but kimono designers and stylists have stopped thinking about what the kimono is supposed to be from the standpoint of modern clothing. Also, consumers look at the kimono as a style of clothing that is not supposed to change.  It is, in a sense, unable to escape from its elemental function.  I think this viewpoint may have weakened our kimono culture.
I actually don’t intend to spread the kimono worldwide. I’m not attempting such a grandiose idea. I am more interesting in stimulating what people think about beauty.
There are various kinds of beauty and it can be seen from various angles; for example, a beauty that comes from within.  Pure human emotion can only be physically exposed when looking at a person in a certain light. By unmasking aspects of inner beauty and displaying them on the external, have been able to challenge an audience by setting new agendas about archetypes and by challenging existing stereotypes.
When it comes to a “quest for creation,” I see it as a kind of interactive act, rather than an individually self-absorbed one. That is to say, it consists of casting a question to an audience and receiving feedback from them. Such interaction allows us to complete our creation.
It’s just like that famous line from the movie Jerry McGuire: “You complete me”.
My work aims for this kind of interaction by stimulating viewers and by seeing how they respond.
At first sight, some people may be moved or encouraged by my work.  Adversely, some may feel upset or even disgusted. Either is fine! No matter how they feel, if I can evoke an emotional response from an audience, it would convince me there is something that I can do for them and that I’m moving in the right direction.
I will continue seeking out new values in design, styling, and art direction through “creation” for the rest of my life.
My point of view about creation – Part 2
As I am Japanese, my mind unconsciously directs itself to nature when I look for something interesting and beautiful. Yet, what I want to express is “a human feeling.” It’s the reason why I’ve pursued expression not through the arts but  through fashion, probably because I love the idea of “people living in the present.” I think I love fashion but also love focusing on “the modern emotion. “I’m interested in “the change of hearts” as well.
Some artist are obsessed with “human faces.” I’m obsessed with “human hearts.”
I try to capture the human heart in my fashion photography and this, in a sense, makes it timeless. Fashion photographs are generally complete when they capture a beautiful moment. Photographers should ask themselves, “how much beauty can we get at this moment?” This is up to direction, angle, and timing.
My point is, I don’t want to photograph only for the beautifully clothing. No, I want to do it to express a spirit of modern women and the zeitgeist which affects them! Furthermore, I add Japanese art style, which has a temporal expression and implies history and race.
My point of view about creation – Part 3
I think that whatever kind of creative job you have, regardless of whether it’s a so-called “creative” one, if you enthusiastically devote yourself to what you think is worth doing, somewhere in the world, there will be those who will appreciate it, and some who will even pay money for it.  This is the primary reason I came to New York City.
Yet, that doesn’t mean they will appreciate everything you do. Also, you may not always be appreciated by the people close to you, or by those that speak the same language as you. Your creative project may not always be able to resonate with them as well as you would like.
If you can’t find those who appreciate your work, you might have to go explore elsewhere, such as the United States, South East Asia, Europe, or even all the way to the North Pole if you can’t find those who appreciate your work. You just have to believe in your own work and you must believe in yourself.  You must never give up, even if you are ridiculed one hundred or even one thousand times.  If the timing is too early, you may have to engage in other things, and just wait until the time is right. Even so, one thing I can say is that it is definitely possible to build “a bond of understanding” with others, that is unless you lose your passion and stop being creative.
If someone were to ironically criticize or deny what you do, that just proves they can’t broaden their mind and move over the threshold to new experiences any more.  As long as International Law hasn’t changed and people haven’t stopped fighting each other over race and religion, you will always be taking a risk by moving forward and taking action. However, it’s up to you whether you step forward with hope or hesitate and do nothing.
My point of view about creation – Part 4
Just recently, my younger sister living in Japan passed away from a rare disease. She was lovely and only 25 years old.  I couldn’t believe her sudden death and I went back home with little more than the clothes on my back.
Her death gave me sadness, emptiness, and a sense of suffering that I’ve never felt before. My parents’ sorrow must have been tougher than mine.  It was the first time that I saw my father crying aloud.  To be honest with you, her death was shocking enough to have changed my perspective on life. That is to say, it has made me rethink “what is ‘life’”.
Life has its ups and downs for everybody. Sometime I have a good time and I’m happy, other times I get down, angry, or depressed. It’s never the same.
However, if I never forget to see the light that shines in my life and continue my question for creation, then I’m sure that more wonderful times are ahead of me.
It made me think that creation takes patience. Creating, designing, and expressing something—these are absolutely precious pursuits, because we start from nothing and give life to something.
What’s more, we can feel supreme satisfaction from that creation when it’s finally completed and affects others.  I think it is worth it to make someone as happy as possible in this world which can seem abundantly filled with sorrow and pain.
When I do my job and create works, I always try to include the notion of “contrast,” in addition to the main theme and concept. I think things have to have both sides of “light and shadow.”
It’s like life. Behind bright days, there are always dark days with suffering.
I think people should face this shadow of reality and go forward courageously to get over the agony, if they want to discover the silver linings that exist in each of our lives. It’s up to each person what happiness is. Real happiness for me does not mean always staying under the present light. For me, fulfillment in life happens in moments when I’m carried away by passion and seeking a more distant light and then expressing those moments and those quests through my work.
My sister’s name meant “true hope” in Japanese.  Like her name, I’d like to keep doing my best and finding true hope in everything I do for the rest of my life.  I’d like for others to do the same.  In this way, she will live on forever.  I’m quite amazed at the unlimited power humans have. We influence each other over a lifetime and still have a permanent force even after death.
This has further ignited my strong interest in human emotion and mind.

Passion Yoko