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A CONVERSATION WITH NATTO FRANCO

THE FINE PRINT: Tell us a little bit about your background. Do you recall a specific moment growing up that was a breaking point for you as a future designer?

NOÉMIE SEBAYASHI: I grew up in the suburbs of Paris. I studied for two years in a Parisian fashion school. I remember the breaking point was when I saw the work of Walter van Beirendonck: the print, the colors, the styling, that was it! When you are practice a sport and you make progress, that specific moment when you understand the game and how it works, it felt the same way.

THE FINE PRINT: Being half French/half Japanese clearly influences you in your work. How would you describe your design aesthetic in general?

NOÉMIE SEBAYASHI: Humour, cosy, no gender.

THE FINE PRINT: Do you have a specific research process when you start a new collection? How does that inspiration become reality?

NOÉMIE SEBAYASHI: I like to collect images, old magazines from the 70s, 80s, 90s. When I visit Japan I thrift any visuals, newspapers, objects in second hands shops. A lot of towns are inhabited by old people, they have the best stories and images.

Sometimes I bring back to Paris books from the archives of my father, he keeps literally everything in our house.

The idea can come from a portrait of a girl, a street, or a packaging of industrial ramen. Anything really.

THE FINE PRINT: In terms of prints, you usually use Asian portraits and scripts. Can you please explain the meaning behind this? Do you create them yourself?

NOÉMIE SEBAYASHI: I love old-style Japanese beauty, there is something quiet and kind of mystic, with the natural make-up and wavy hair, they remind of my parents’ photos when they used to travel with their friends in Japan, I wish I was living these moments with them.

Unfortunately nowadays Asian beauty is focused on white skin, straight hair, white teeth, big eyes etc.

THE FINE PRINT: Can you tell us about your Fall/Winter 2016 menswear collection out on your Instagram page and the artistic direction you went for?

NOÉMIE SEBAYASHI: GO (5 in Japanese) Collection, banders with little everyday symbols.

From public toilets (Otearai in Japanese), to ramen packaging. Offbeat graphic logos stick out.

It is a clothing poem where teenage silhouettes glide.

The 90s kid, all dressed in velvet and cotton, draws an enigmatic frown.

He eats Natto for breakfast and never leaves the Island of the Lost Boys.

THE FINE PRINT: Nowadays, thousands of young people dream of becoming a successful fashion designer without knowing what’s at stake. As a young creative designer yourself, how do you balance creativity with commerce?

NOÉMIE SEBAYASHI: I learn a lot every day and every season. I find it very interesting as you need to work with this “fashion and social” sensitivity at the same time.

THE FINE PRINT: What is next for you professionally?

NOÉMIE SEBAYASHI: I am currently collaborating on a French movie that’s going to come out in 2017.

Text by Kevin Meunier