Japanese designer Yukari Suda is so inspired by Pas-de-Calais that when she founded her fashion house 18 years ago, she named it after the northern French region on the English Channel.
It is perhaps unusual for a Japanese designer who speaks only Japanese to be so drawn to that particular corner of France, which is most famous abroad today for its worsening migrant crisis.
Inspired by the famous "Dentelle de Calais" lace, the landscape, cliffs and light of the area, Suda has found success in Japan. In 2013, she opened a store in New York, then another last year in Paris. This week, she unveiled her fall/winter 2016 collection in a former workshop in New York's Soho -- called "decay" and adhering to the spirit of the label with soft palettes in beige, brown and grey.
"There is a relationship," Suda told AFP about Pas-de-Calais. "My clothes are not bright colors, it's always grey. It's very similar to the colors of the ocean in Pas-de-Calais," she said through a translator. During a visit to the area in 2014, Suda went to renowned lace makers, Cosetex and Noyon. Although she did not use Calais lace in her latest collection, she has in the past and would love to do so again.
Suda has been head womenswear designer since 1998. She balances Japanese simplicity with French elegance, fashioning cotton, linen and silk into a collection of effortless and wearable pieces. In her latest collection, prints on dresses were made to look like a decaying wall. She said she was drawn to explore the decline in manufacturing, in Japan as elsewhere.
Her style is timeless so that a woman buying from her collection 20 years ago could pair items from the latest collection. "I want to make real clothes," she told AFP. (AFP)