Interview by Marie-Pauline Cesari
photos by Alexandre Bangoura

CFCL, an acronym for Clothing For Contemporary Life, stands as the inaugural creation of Japanese designer Yusuke Takahashi, former artistic director of Issey Miyake. After his debut runway show during Paris Fashion Week, we had the opportunity to interview him, delving into his insights and unveiling the inspiration, artistic choices, and narrative behind his latest collection.

Congratulations on the debut runway show in Paris for your brand! How do you feel after taking this significant step?

Thank you! After ten years of creating in my previous role, presenting new works in Paris feels like coming full circle. Paris is where I grew as a designer, and I couldn’t imagine unveiling a new collection anywhere else. I’m thrilled to be back here with my brand, committed to showcasing my creations and contributing to the cultural scene for the long haul.

Could you share the inspiration behind your new collection? What themes or elements influenced your design process, and how did you bring them to life on the runway?

Certainly! My inspiration draws from the rich history and culture of the West, particularly France. Recently, I had the unique opportunity to design costumes for Mozart’s The Magic Flute opera in Tokyo, sparking a deep interest in Western performing arts. Over the past six months, I delved into the history of ballet, opera, and music, exploring the fascinating interplay between Western religion, noble society, and the arts. Additionally, the Exhibition of Mode et sport at the Museum of Arts Decorative left a lasting impact on me. Examining the origins and attire of fencing, horseback riding, and tennis, I discovered a compelling history of balancing elegance and practicality.

What message or narrative were you aiming to communicate through your latest collection, and how does it align with the ethos of your brand?

Our theme for this season is “Knit-ware: Cadence.” We focused on practical clothing, embracing modesty by eliminating unnecessary extravagance. Stripping away excess, our goal was to create a rhythm in clothing that enriches our daily lives. From morning to night, Monday to Sunday, life follows a continuous cycle of tension and relaxation, and clothing plays a crucial role in supporting both. I aspire to provide garments that facilitate this seamless transition.

The decision to feature a live violin concert during the runway show was both beautiful and intriguing. Could you explain the artistic direction behind this choice and how it complemented the collection?

We collaborated with the talented Serbian composer, Hristina Šušak, whose music I discovered at a concert in Japan a year ago. I’ve always been passionate about classical and contemporary music, attending concerts regularly. The tension, repeating rhythms, and simple structure in her music perfectly aligned with the theme of this collection. The Western sound of the string quartet also resonated with my current creative mood.

As you continue to establish your brand, what are your future aspirations or directions for your work? Are there any particular themes or collaborations on the horizon that you’re excited about?

I see strong potential in the influence that fashion can have on people. There are many problems in our society and on our planet, and I hope to overcome them with the power of fashion. That is why I am doing this job.
I also believe in the future of knitwear technology. We bought a computerized knitting machine for our Tokyo office this past February. With our own hands, we hope to facilitate the development of knitwear, which may not always be suitable for commercial use, but has so much unique potential.