Keiko Nishiyama applies her intricate paintings of flora and fauna to her breathtaking contemporary womenswear brand. WGSN had to meet her.
Designer Keiko Nishiyama creates garments that are bursting with detail and colour. She is inspired by the ‘Cabinet of curiosities’ and fascinated with pattern, so it’s no wonder her stunning collection grabbed the attention of the WGSN Print & Graphic Team. We linked up with the talented designer to find out more about her inspiration, process and upcoming projects:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in fashion design?
I started with a BA Fashion and Performance in Tokyo and immediately after, I worked as an assistant designer for a few years in Japan. In 2011, I decided to move to London to study fashion again, in order to build my career internationally. I completed a graduate diploma degree at Central Saint Martins and went on to continue my MA at London College of Fashion in 2013. I luckily had my graduation collection shown at London Fashion Week and a year later, I had the chance to get my new collection supported by Fashion Scout for both London and Paris Fashion Week. With all those great opportunities before me, I saw it as an incredible chance to establish my own brand. At the same time, I worked with several brands on textile collaborations.
Can you describe your work in 3 words?
Curiosity, bizarre, ephemeral.
Who or what are your key influences? And where do you go if you want to be inspired?
I’m influenced by the concept of ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, also known as ‘wonder rooms’ and the very origins of a museum. During my study for my graduation collection, I visited the Natural History museum library and several English gardens for research. Whenever I have time, I find myself looking for new cabinets of curiosities, at all museums, aquariums and gardens.
You’ve studied in both London and Tokyo, how have these two cities and cultures influenced your work?
Yes, these two cities have absolutely influenced me. I’m originally from Tokyo, so the majority of my fashion aesthetic is influenced by Japanese street style. But I am also keen to discover the cabinet of curiosity culture here in Europe and especially in England.
Your work is so detailed and ornate, how long do you spend on one print?
It depends on the size and how intricate the details are. Roughly around 2 to 3 weeks for each prints.
Your prints are full of beautiful drawings with very detailed flora and fauna but what’s your favourite medium to work with?
My favourite medium is gouache because of the richness of colour which translates well in the printing process.
What is your dream project? And do you have any recent/upcoming events or projects you can share with us?
At the end of last April, we had an exclusive collaboration event with a perfume brand, Illuminum London, at Dover Street. We presented the SS16 collection and for each garment, we selected a scent from Illuminum’s fragrances to match each piece. Furthermore, using Illuminum London’s gallery space, we created a special room called ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’ alongside a contemporary artist, Orié Inoué whose work perfectly complimented our collection.
Also, we recently worked on an exclusive handkerchief collaboration with H Tokyo, which is now being sold at Tokyo Ginza and Kitte Marunouchi in central Tokyo.
But my dream project would be to create my very own ‘Cabinet of Curiosity’. In one massive building, covered by intricate wallpapers containing my hand drawn designs, and beautifully furnished interiors specially designed and created to perfectly match the concept of ‘curiosity’. It would not be restricted to fashion, instead it would incorporate other things such as lifestyle products and interior designs.
Like what you just read? Then check out more about Keiko Nishiyama here.
Want more? Check our WGSN’s five expert tips to design a print collection here.
Love prints? Get trend Intel from the WGSN Print and Graphics team.