Style Icons Vol.2 – Nao

8 years ago by in Fashion Tagged:


Nao is a 24 years old Chief Designer at Avantgarde Harajuku; the most influential legwear boutique in Tokyos street fashion scene. When I first met her, she was strolling down the street in a white super mini dress with originally designed converse. She had an air about her that was very original and unique. Intrigued by her, one sunny Saturday afternoon, I decided to catch up with Nao to get to know her more over coffee to chat up about what the current state of style world as she sees it, her work as a designer and her dreams. After having this conversation with her, I realized that she is such an inspirational woman! My hope is that many young women can learn to follow the examples of someone like Nao, to be more independent, secure with themselves and not be afraid to follow their passion!

ナオさん(24歳)は、東京ストリートファッションの中心的存在であるレッグウエア ショップ『アバンギャルド』のチーフデザイナーです。街角で撮影をしているときに彼女を見かけたのが出会いのきっかけです。その時の彼女の ファッションは、マイクロミニの白いドレスにオリジナルデザインのコンバースを履いていました出逢った瞬間から何か光る個性を持つ女性だと気がつき、わたしの興味 に火をつけたので、土曜の昼下がりに彼女と会うことにしました。コーヒーを飲みながら、彼女のもつ世界観、今の東京ファッション界をどう思っているのか、デザイ ナーとしての仕事、将来の夢などについて語り合いました。話を聞けば聞くほど、稀にみるとても魅力的な女性だと確信が深まり、ナオさんの生 き方や考え方は多くの若い女性の模範となると思いました。彼女のよう に自信溢れる女性を参考にして、自分を信じて怖れずに夢を追いかけ、勇敢に立ち向かって欲しいと思います!



When did you decide to become a designer?

Since my childhood I liked drawing and crafting. My grand mother and mother, they both were really talented fine artists, but no one made a living out of it. As a child, I strongly felt I will be the one who is going to make this change and made the decision to pursue a career as a professional artist. Since I already knew what I wanted to do with my life, I chose to go to a high school with strong arts program.

After high school, I entered into a two year professional design school to further my studies in graphic design. I thought of going to art university but quickly realized I will be wasting my time and efforts to study for college entrance exam, since I’m not really an academic.

After all I already knew I wanted to become a designer, I thought I’ll be able to become successful quicker than those people who went on to universities. I was ambitious.

What was your first job after finishing your studies?

I was the graphic designer for a surf apparel line, I was designing for prints on their T shirts. Designing for that company has taught me well. It really allowed me to grow as a designer and as a person.

What made you switch to a tattoo stocking designer?

I quit that job because I wanted to grow as a designer. When I was looking for a new job, I was invited to a party where I was introduced to the president of the Avantgarde Harajuku. She asked me to come in for an interview the following week, and at the end of the interview, she offered me the job as a chief designer.

What do love and enjoy the most about your job?

At my previous job, I was designing for much older generation than me. It was a bit of a stretch, but Avantgarde is designing for the girls of my generation. It feels like I can be more true to myself and keeping the integrity as a designer. I love the fact that we are allowed to design by hand as well as using computers. Since we also do collaborations with companies like Disney and Sanrio, I get to learn new skills and be exposed to new ideas other than my own which can be very exciting! I feel very fortunate to be working for a company like this, because it is allowing me to keep growing as a designer! I’m just exactly where I want to be!


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I truly enjoy drawing! I like creating my own illustrated work by hand. When I have the time, I like to participate at the “Design Festa”to exhibit my original illustrated postcards and illustration printed Eco bags.

I also enjoy photography and love creating my own original accessories. My favorite subjects are landscapes and lights. Capturing interesting shapes and colors is also something that inspires me and something I sometimes use in my designs.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I love listening to sweet voices. American pop stars Justin Bieber and Katy Perry are among my favorites. Right now I am hooked on listening to Katy Perry’s “California Girl” and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”.

Do you have any favorite movies?

Recently, I saw a movie called “Part of Me”. It is a documentary that chronicles Katy Perry’s life on and off-stage. She seems like just another pretty-faced manufactured pop star, but after watching the documentary, I realized she is not. She is actually a hard working, down to earth person and very considerate towards to all of her staff. It suddenly dawned on me that there’s always a reason behind people who make it to the top. That’s why she is a very successful star! The movie gave me lots of inspiration and I left the movie theater feeling enthusiastic and very happy!

Disney movies can never go wrong! my favorites are fairly-tale-happy-ending stories like “Cinderella” and “Rapunzel”.

If it is a Japanese movie, I love “Ping Pong”. The cinematography is gorgeous! Every single scene is like a beautiful picturesque post card!

Do you have any favorite fashion designer?

I am not into brand names, so I don’t have favorites. I am not following a particular designer because I think it’s impossible for even famous designers to create fabulous outfits every single season. I like to walk around and browse stores to search for items that I can fall in love with. If I find anything that catches my attention, I’ll buy it even if it’s expensive! I don’t really care about the price.

What is your favorite fashion? Is there anything you are particular about?

I love anything that has unique original design and I’m always drawn to offbeat and different clothes. I also put an importance in wearing clothes that makes me feel good and happy. That’s the most important aspect I care about when choosing clothes.

I don’t care about what men think about my fashion. I don’t believe my taste in clothes is liked by many men. If I happen to meet a guy who will like me exactly the way I am, I’ll be a very lucky girl. But if  not, that’s fine with me. I don’t really care about what other people think. I only choose to wear clothes that makes me feel good and happy. It’s that simple.

Is there any person or a magazine you look for fashion inspiration?

I don’t read Japanese fashion magazines but I sometimes look through foreign fashion magazines in a book store. I enjoy flipping through magazines that features US and Europe street fashion snap shots and a magazine called “Form”. I am inspired by looking at American and European fashionistas because I think they have this effortless sexiness. If it is Japanese person, I like the fashion style of R&B singer Thelma Aoyama. I check her blog time to time to look for inspiration!

What do you think about current fashion scene in Japan?

Not all brands but I think a lot of companies are only chasing after trends and they only care about making money. I see so many stores are selling similar clothes now! When that happens, I can’t blame for consumers who go for the cheapest! Then all companies starts to lower their prices. To me, that is not a real competition and it feels very disappointing as a designer. I believe brands should only compete with their one and only originality! You can’t really worry too much by looking to the left and the right about what the competition is doing or what other people in your field are doing.

Is there any trend in Tokyo that you like?

I love girls wearing red lipstick. I think it’s a powerful form of self expression and I Love it!

Is there any trend you would never try for yourself?

I don’t like that cat item trend. Cat ear hats, cat ear head accessories and cat printed clothes. I will never wear them and I don’t like it at all. I feel annoyed just looking at them, it just rubs me the wrong way.

Is there any particular city you would like to visit one day?

I would love to visit New York! I imagine NYC to have many crazy shops and I get the impression that the city is a like a toy box upside down. I just want to walk around and search for my favorite items. It seems very exciting and it feels like I can get tons of inspirations by meeting people from all walks of life. It must be a city where there’s always somewhere or someone new to discover!

What are your dreams and aspirations?

I want to be a designer for the rest of my life! If I can live my whole life as an artist, I will be happy as a clam! It can be any form of designing. I currently love fashion but it doesn’t have to be limited to that. I don’t really care about getting married like most girls, it can happen but I am not concerned. Whatever it is, my foremost desire is to be able to live my whole life as a designer and to keep on working and evolving! That will be my dream life style come true!


Interview & Text by Lola Rose

Today’s Fashion


Sweater Dress:NUDE TRUMP

Shoes:Bought in HAWAII



Tatoo Stocking:AVANTGRADE HARAJUKU Designed by Nao

tokyo street style


幼 い頃から絵を描いたり、工作をしたりするのが好きでした。祖母や母も絵がとても上手でしたが、誰も仕事として絵を描いていませんでした。じゃあ、わたしが 絵を描くことを仕事として成り立たせてみる!と思いました。昔からそういう思いでいたので、高校を選ぶときも美術に力を入れている学校を選びました。







以 前のサーフ系のアパレル会社は、自分よりずっと年齢層の高い人たちを対象としていたので、少し無理をしていた部分がありました。でも今の会社では、同年代 の女の子を対象にデザインをしているので、自分らしく仕事が出来ています。コンピューターを使ってデザインするだけではなく、手描きでデザインも描けるが 嬉しいです。ディズニーやサンリオとのコラボもやっているので、自分のオリジナルデザイン以外の発想や違う技法が学べるのがとても新鮮です。それが自分の スキルアップにも繋がってると思います。デザイナーとして一生向上し続けていたいので、今のような環境で仕事が出来ていること自体が幸せで、充実感を感じてい ます。





ジャスティンビーバーやケイティ ペリーのような甘い声が好きです。基本的に洋楽が好きですね。今は特にケイティ ペリーの『カリフォルニア ガール』とカリー レイ ジャスペン の『コール ミー メイビー』にハマってます!


最 近観た映画では、ケイティー ペリーの自伝映画がすごく良かったです!彼女はポッと出てきたアイドルのように思えますが、まわりの人にもちゃんと気を遣えるすごい努力家なのが映画を観 てわかりました。彼女の人となりがちゃんとしっかりあるから、周りのスタッフからも、ファンからも応援され、沢山の人たちに支えられているんだと感じまし た。やっぱり、売れている人の裏には必ず売れる理由があるんだ!と確信をしました。彼女の頑張りを見て、わたしももっと頑張ろう!と思い、ハッピーな気持 ちにさせてくれました。


邦画では『ピンポン』という映画が気に 入って ます。この映画はワンシーン、ワンシーンが絵になる映画なんです。どこを切り取っても絵になって、画の構成がすごく素敵なんです!


ブラ ンドに興味がないので、特にいません。デザイナー自身も毎回素敵な洋服が作れるとは限らないので、ブランド名やデザイナー名では買いません。その時の気分 で色々なお店に行って、自分の好きなモノを探し出すのが好きです。自分が気に入れば、値段はあまり関係ありません。安くても高くても買っちゃいます!



男 性目線は気にしません。第一、正直言って好きな格好は男性ウケは良くないです(笑)。自分の好きな服を着て、等身大の自分を男性が好きになってくれたら 「ラッキー!」って感じくらいですね。人がどう思うというより、自分が着ていて幸せを感じれる洋服というのを一番大切にしています。


日 本のファッション雑誌は読まないのですが、海外の雑誌はたまに本屋さんで見たりします。海外のストリートファッションスナップや『FORM』という雑誌を 見たりします。海外のオシャレさんは、かっこ良くてナチュラルでセクシーな人が多いので、見ていて参考になります。日本人で唯一好きなのは、青山テルマの センスが好きなので、彼女のブログはたまにチェックします。


す べてのブランドというわけではありませんが、オリジナリティーを大切にしないで、流行ばかりを追ってる感じがします。お金儲けだけに走ってるブランドが多 いように見受けられ、どのお店も同じような洋服ばかり売ってます、そうなると、その中で一番安い洋服を消費者が選ぼうとする構図になり、その結果、どうし ても値下げ合戦となってしまう。それはリアルな勝負では無いので、デザイナーとしてはすごく残念です。そのブランドにしかない個性やオリジナリティーで競 い合って欲しいですね。




ネコ関係すべて!ネコミミ帽子、ネコミミ カチューシャ、ネコ の絵柄の洋服!絶対につけたくないし、着たくない。猫が嫌いな訳じゃないんですけど、この流行は見かけるだけで、正直ちょっと不快な気持ちになってしまいます(笑)


NY に一度は行ってみたいです。なんかぶっ飛んでる感じのショップとかありそう!街全体がガチャガチャしている印象があるので、ぶらぶら歩いて自分の好きなモ ノを見つけ出したい。すごく楽しそうだし、自分と考え方や文化の違う人たちに出逢って、自分を成長させてくれそうな予感がします。毎回違う発見があった り、新しい出会いが常にあるワクワクを感じれる街って印象ですね。


ずっとデザイナーをしていたいです!クリエイターとして一生過ごせれば幸せなので、結婚はしてもしなくても良いと思ってます。デザイナーならどんな媒体でも良いです。今は ファッシ ョンに興味があるので、ファッションデザインをしていますが、それに固執はしていません。とにかく生涯クリエイターとして、成長して、進化し続けるのがわたしの理想の人生です。それは私の目標でもあり、夢ですね!


Interview & Text by ローラ



セータードレス:NUDE TRUMP

靴:Bought in HAWAII





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