Sunday, December 19, 2010

Jum Nakao

I'm going a little out of my normal mode of doing things by posting on a fashion designer, but it doesn't matter because they are just as inspiring. His name is Jum Nakao, a Japanese-born, Brazilian-based fashion designer.

Seeing as how the ground is blanketed in snow right now, I wanted to feature Nakao's delicately paper-made creations because they remind me of a winter wonderland. Well, a robotic winter wonderland, but one nonetheless. :)

Jum Nakao first began his career in engineering, and then decided fashion could be a more interesting mode for expressing his designs. Being crafted out of paper these "dresses" are certainly not practical, rather otherworldly. The very nature of paper is slim, angular, rigid, and stark; the perfect medium for an alien collection. Notice their lego-inspired headdresses?

The designs were meticulously cut with a laser and then assembled by hand. After completion they were so delicate the models went barefoot so as not to risk catching them. Underneath they wore black to best showcase the intricately cut patterns.

Nakao is an absolute visionary. It's incredible to see how he could make paper look volumized, draped, and lacy, all at once. More amazing than his skill is his concept, incorporating Renaissance and Victorian silhouettes with an unquestionalbe modernity. Fashion is about finding the right balance between timeless elements and innovation, and I think Nakao has achieved something truly inspired here.

Please enjoy an excerpt from Nakao's "paper-couture" runway show entitled, Sewing the Invisible:

Shocking! How could an artist who spent hundreds of consuming hours designing and crafting these masterpieces have them torn to shreds only moments later?

I was half expecting this to happen actually... and I think I like it. It reminds us that it is just paper after all, and fashion isn't everything. Perhaps the tearing reminds us of our need to let go of the material, which is temporal and insignificant.

Or perhaps it represents the fleeting nature of beauty; as an ice crystal forms into a fragile snowflake more unique and beautiful than any other--in mere seconds it can land on the wet pavement and be instantly annihilated; an exquisite creation gone forever and hardly noticed. Such is often the fate of things unique and beautiful in this world...

Along the lines of socially motivated concepts is this other "couture dress" created by Nakao but made entirely of garbage bags.

I think the meaning here is more direct. Is fashion trash? Can trash become fashion? Are our obsessions with trends futile because everything ends up in the landfill? Should we cut back on excessive lifestyles because of the impact they have on our environment? It could mean all these things... or not.

Aside from creating socially provocative pieces, Nakao also creates imaginative, whimsical pieces. In 2005 he collaborated with Luiz Fernando Carvalho in creating a short animation segment for a larger TV mini-series titled, Hoje é Dia de Maria (Today is the Day of Maria).

The plot mixes elements of traditional fairy-tales with Brazilian pop culture, creating a fantastically rich tale about life and emotion as seen through the eyes of a little girl, Maria, who soon becomes a woman.

This particular animation sequence features a dance performed with greater-than-life-size puppets and costumes made of metallic-sprayed paper, crafted by the very talented Nakao, of course. Enjoy.

Lovely. On behalf of aspiring artists everywhere I just want to say, thank you Nakao, for being a fashion designer, engineer, filmmaker, innovator, social commentator, and all around inspirer.


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