Speaking of Bijin-Hakumei, perhaps none fits the bill better than this one.
She was phenomenal. Kanebo’s ad campaign in 1977 turned Masako Natusme (夏目雅子) into an instant household name in Japan, and many of us realized that a torso of a Japanese woman could be sexy and beautiful (most models in Japanese ads were Caucasians). She was possessed of a healthy charm. Her beauty was a blend of traditional and new. If the human being is a creature of age, Masako Natsume was the perfect icon of Japanese women during the height of the nation’s economic growth. So it came as a huge shock to most Japanese when she suddenly passed away in 1985 due to acute leukemia at the age of 27.
The image on the left was probably taken more than two decades ago. The one on the right was taken a few years ago.
Who is she?
- Her name is Sayoko Yamaguchi (山口小夜子).
- Sayoko was the first and maybe the only supermodel from Japan. Newsweek magazine named her one of the world’s top six fashion models in 1977.
- Sayoko Mannequin manufactured in ’77 by a British company was displayed all over the world through the ’80s. Fashion designer Anna Sui still owns two of these vintage mannequins and uses them in her shop.
- According to Yoshiharu Fukuhara, Shiseido’s Honorary Chairman and the grandson of the company’s founder, Sayoko was Shiseido’s liaison with Serge Lutens who often had done makeup for Sayoko.
- Sayoko was the face of Shiseido for many years. She had a very Japanese-looking face, but her physique was not (ie. tall height, long legs). She didn’t really make a great model for a kimono because of her not-so-Japanese-looking body, but here is Sayoko in a kimono in one of Shiseido’s commercials.
The word “bi-jin” literally means a beautiful person and mostly used for women. “Haku-mei” denotes ‘thin life’ which translates to short life. It illustrates the Japanese worldview of beautiful things being frail and grieving such frailness. Sayoko Yamaguchi died two months ago at age of 57. Sayoko’s life was almost 30 years short of reaching the average lifespan of Japanese women today. Her life exemplified this idiom.
Her death brought back to me an almost forgotten memory. One fall afternoon, when I was about 17, I was waiting for a local train at Yokohama station to go to Tokyo. When I looked over at the platform for the express trains to Tokyo on the other side of the track, I saw a pair of long legs in yellow boots stretched out below a short skirt moving in elegant strides. They belonged to a very tall young woman with long black hair whom I recognized from glossy fashion magazines. No sooner had I realized it was Sayoko Yamaguchi than I dashed up the stairs of an overpass to get to the other platform where she was. An express train came in before I could get close to her. I kept my eyes on Sayoko Yamaguchi in the distance to remember the car she was getting aboard till I got on the rear car of the train. I walked through the aisles towards Green Cars (the first-class coaches in Japan) as the train headed to Tokyo. When I reached one of the Green Cars I felt so lucky to find her alone, there was nobody else in the car. I probably felt as I was going up to Heaven. I don’t remember how I introduced myself or how I left the car half an hour later. I only remember that I stayed in the car sitting next to her until I got off the train at one of the stops in Tokyo. We chatted about fashion in general, about Issey and Kenzo.
Although she must have been at the height of her modeling career then, the tall, striking woman I met on that cloudy autumn day was extremely gentle and pleasant… far from what we imagine today’s supermodels to be.
I had been skeptical about Dyson. But I ordered one anyway. I thought I made a mistake when I opened the box and saw the design right in front of me. I still don’t appreciate the way my Dyson looks but like the power and the ease of getting rid of the dust inside. What I like most about Dyson (no matter how much I dislike the design) is the fact that I can feel one man’s obsession and ego in a consumer product like a vacuum cleaner. It’s just a vacuum cleaner, for God’s sake, but it is compelling !
Dai Fujiwara, the creative director of Issey Miyake, must have been interested in Dyson’s vacuum cleaners for a similar reason, and thus ended up contacting the creator to collaborate. James Dyson created a whirlwind display for the runway of Issey Miyake’s Spring-Summer 2008 ready to wear collection in Paris last Tuesday. Here is an interview with James Dyson on this esoteric collaboration.
Probably you have seen this already. No photo will be used in an ad without being digitally retouched today. I thought it was kind of whack when a friend of mine first showed me how he retouched a photo with his Macs for the cover of Vogue Italia some 15 years ago. Most of us won’t care anymore if an image we see is truthful or not.
The campaign for real beauty from Dove delivers another critical commercial called Onslaught. You have to see this one, too.
I haven’t been to Colette for a while, and a recent post in 1000fragrances certainly made me want to check out the store. It’s not surprising to hear that this hip store in Paris has done a good job of building its olfactive identity. After all this is the store in Paris run by an innovative trendsetter ‘sarah’.
Olfactive branding is a relatively new area in the fragrance business… but I see two problems here.
The first issue is whether to scent a space or to launch an olfactive campaign, it doesn’t require tons of fragrance oil to achieve these goals. This is not really a good business for the suppliers. To profit from this new trend the suppliers will need to change their old-fashioned billing system which has been spoiling their clients for many years and be prepared for a new business form. Not an easy thing to do.
Solving the second issue could be even more difficult. Today’s big companies are like young people. They want to be cool. However both fragrance business and its market are uncool, and worst of all, this is contagious – an example: Tom Ford used to be cool, and Estee Lauder wanted to borrow some of his leftover aura. In the beginning of Lauder-Ford alliance, some people in the industry made fun of one of the big bosses at Lauder who was trying to dress like Tom Ford. How does the relationship look today? I think Tom blended in with Estee Lauder so nicely that it’s hard to remember that he had been undeniably cool in the ’90s… will it be possible to change this uncool environment into a cool one, and how? That I don’t know yet.
I’m happy to know that one of Made by Blog’s first projects is still moving forward. I just received two mods from Clement for Marina’s Holy Grail (thanks, Clement). Marina, I will hopefully send them to you on Monday. A limited number of Marina’s new mods are available upon request (sorry, samples will be send only to U.S. addresses).