Maison Kitsuné is a multidisciplinary creative studio that over the years has come to encapsulate Parisian cool in the worlds of fashion and music. We caught up with Kitsuné’s co-founder and creative director Gildas Loaëc to talk about building the brand, visual signatures and the importance of collaboration.
The Kitsuné fox is one of the brand’s most recognisable signatures. How did you first develop this as a visual concept and how important is it to the brand today?
We thought that if people could love a crocodile so much they could love a fox as well.
The tricolor fox is our emblematic signature: a fox, because Kitsuné means fox in Japanese; the blue, white and red colours as a nod to our French roots. The tricolor fox patch is featured from season to season on all our basics, from t-shirts to shirts, passing by polos and hoodies. We’re playing around a lot with it as we now have different styles of foxes featured on our clothes as patches, embroideries, patterns or prints. We don’t want to stick with one style of fox only.
Aside from the fox, are there any other brand signatures that you continually carry through the collection?
Since our debut, Maison Kitsuné ready- to-wear collections are offering chic and laid-back styles with a Parisian, effortless French essence. Of course, the collections have evolved over the years: more fashionable, elaborated and sophisticated clothes, with a richer range of colours, using the noblest materials. Aside from the fox, our classics are continually carried through the collections: Prints in timeless colour ways (white, grey melange, navy, black) such as Je suis allé au Collège Kitsuné, Maison Kitsuné Palais Royal, Parisien and Parisienne.
Our iconic canvas sneakers made in Japan, simple and chic at the same time. Our footwear line of black leather classic shoes for men and women: penny loafers, lace-up boots, ankle boots, evening pumps... and some shapes of course, that we’re carrying from season to season, by always reinterpreting them with different fabrics, patterns, seasonal colours.
Can you tell us a little bit about the feeling you try to create with the interiors of your retail stores?
All of our retail stores worldwide (Paris, New York, Tokyo, Hong Kong) have a unique identity. In terms of architecture and designs, they have in common this strong Haussmannian feel and the use of pure furniture and finest materials. They all are cutting-edge places that offer a unique experience that aligns fashion, music, design and lifestyle. Aside from that, we try to give each of our stores their own atmosphere, and identity. For example, in Paris, our historical shop located on rue de Richelieu in the first arrondissement of Paris has a very Parisian architecture. The second one, on the left bank of rue Madame, has a gentle, very intimate ambiance, generated by the use of beige and powder pink tones, whereas at rue Condorcet the atmosphere of the boutique is much more masculine. Our flagship store, inaugurated last June on the boulevard des Filles du Calvaire, was designed to evoke a Californian villa. Maison Kitsuné Tokyo boutiques have been designed with some nods to Japanese culture with the use of traditional Japanese materials. Our latest outpost in Daikanyama, Tokyo for example has been conceived to evoke a traditional yet modern Japanese house and pays tribute to Tokyo’s iconic 1960s Hotel Okura, a symbol of Japanese modernist design.
Teaming up with talented architecture and design studios such as Numéro111, Dimore Studio, HAau, Nicolas Dorval-Bory Agency, Dzek and Max Lam allows us to give birth to all of our desires and to give each of our addresses around the world a unique feel.
Maison Kitsuné Paris at Rue Madame
Maison Kitsuné and Café Kitsune Paris at Filles du Calvaire
Maison Kitsuné Tokyo at Daikanyama
Maison Kitsuné Paris at Condorcet
The first Cafe Kitsuné opened in Tokyo in 2013, how did you go about creating the interior concept for this space? Did it reference your store fit outs or was it designed with a unique aesthetic in mind?
The Café Kitsuné Tokyo is of course true to Maison Kitsuné’s refined and elegant aesthetic. The cafe was designed for coffee-lovers who want to spend time in a quiet and charming place. However, as with our shops, none of our Café Kitsuné’s have the same interior design. Imagined by Masaya Kuroki, my partner, co-founder and creative director, with the support of the architecture office FHC, Café Kitsuné Tokyo unveils a Haussmanian style with a strong Japanese feel. The path to the Café is lined with bamboo, the interior is furnished with antiques and Japanese materials. The space was created in the traditional scale; low ceilings convey nearness and conviviality.
We always look forward to the latest look books from Kitsuné. Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process involved in these shoots?
Generally, there is a discussion between the Image Director, Masaya and myself, about the directions to take in line with the theme of the collection; what we want to push forward and what we want to avoid... It’s all about defining a general mood. Then, the Image Director takes over and starts talking with the photographer about moodboard and ideas, sending references and inspirations, so the set design can be prepared. When we collaborate with a photographer, it is because we like his work and trust him or her, so we give them a lot of freedom and always remain open to suggestions. What we like is interaction, not direction. At Maison Kitsuné, there are not really any limits to ideas and creativity, we’re doing what we love. We do like to surprise people, to innovate, to introduce humour and poetry in all our imagery.
In particular, we loved the SS16 look- book which had somewhat of a surreal feel to it. Can you tell us about the visual ideas behind the shoot and how it was produced?
We have been working on our last lookbook and campaign with Italian photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, from Toilet Paper. We’re very happy about this collaboration. We love his work, he is super talented, humble and has the same playful, funny vision of art that we do. The shoot always occurs in Milan, where Pierpaolo is based and has his team. The Spring-Summer 2016 collection ‘Paris Désert’ was conceived from a spirit of adventure and from the idea that when summer comes, Parisians either escape the urban bustle to seek a calm oasis or remain in the capital, which becomes a newly deserted terrain that invites exploration. The images had to be playful, filled with romance, lightness and optimism, with a modern touch.
Kitsuné has a long history of collaboration with other brands. Can you talk to us about some of your more recent collaborations and how you go about fusing another brand’s DNA into the Kitsuné aesthetic?
We learn a lot from the brands we collaborate with. Teaming up with prestigious labels has helped us to develop our brand recognition all over the world. The most interesting thing about those collaborations is the way we succeed in fusing both universes and savoir-faire to create something unique. We’re particularly proud of our collaboration with shu uemura for their last holiday collection, as it was our very first step in the world of beauty. The packaging features iconic motifs from East and West: a dress and a kimono, a beret and a straw hat,a cup of tea and a cup of Café Kitsuné... Last May, we launched our first exclusive collaboration with Mr Porter, a playful capsule collection called ‘Voyage’ which was conceived from the idea of being a tourist who is travelling the world and collecting precious, kitschy souvenirs from each city he’s been to. Lastly, we unveiled in July an exclusive limited edition of the Pump Fury in collaboration with Reebok Classic Japan... a great success!
Can you tell us about some of the inspiration and visual references behind the upcoming Fall 16 collection?
Our upcoming Fall-Winter 2016 collection is called ‘Love Rises’. It pays homage to our Japanese heritage and is inspired by the aesthetic and dreamscape created by Hayao Miyazaki in the animated film ‘The Wind Rises’. Both men’s and women’s collections unveil silhouettes from the 1930’s with a hint of military influence. One of the key prints of the season is the Landscape Camo print - it represents a camouflage print reinterpreted in a poetic, playful way as we incorporated icons of Mount Fuji and elements of zen Japanese landscape.
Finally, what’s planned for the rest of the year? Anything exciting you can share with us?
Our Fall-Winter 2016 collections from ‘Love Rises’ are about to drop into stores and online. We’re also working on a holiday capsule collection for November and an exclusive collaboration to drop early December... stay tuned! From the music side, we’re working with great artists like Tkay Maidza, a fantastic young hip hop artist – she is Australian by the way. Her debut album is planned for September and Parcels, our latest signing, 5 young guys from Byron Bay! Australia, again... I’m really impressed by these 19 years old boys. They have the best groove.
Masaya Kuroki and Gildas Loaëc
Maison Kitsuné Menswear is available Online, from our Sydney City, Paddington, Melbourne QV, Flinders Lane and Pacific Fair stores.