The Mystical Genius of Noir Kei Ninomiya

Interviews, Inspirations, Focus

By Paul McLauchlan

The mystical genius of Noir Kei Ninomiya transports us to universes seldom explored. Never one to be bound by the confines of a specific inspiration to spell the mood of the season, the Japanese designer started with the loose concept of ‘Iridescence’ for Fall-Winter 2024. Through an ongoing exploration of silhouette, colour, and texture, the Japanese designer zeroed in on the reflection of light to push the needle forward in his collection. Shimmering blossoms were carefully constructed to resemble a polychromatic sheath of armour; iridescent flowers encase models’ frames; and gem-like cubes are draped over a quilted olive green coat like a harness.  

While technically marvellous and mature with plenty of protective layers, there is nonetheless a lighthearted whimsy to his work. It’s best seen in the childlike wonder that he applies to his playful use of colour. A swirl of wires bounces with every strut. Synthetic fur jackets are stiffened with resin. A bolero thick with black blooms is overlaid against an ultra-feminine skirt bursting with layers of pink tulle and satin. All of this is juxtaposed against a rebellious streak: plaid coats and jackets styled with shrunken waistcoats as well as leather ties. Meanwhile, a green velvet jacket inset with a tulle bustle suggests something grander. Ditto the painstaking macramé construction punctuated throughout the collection that attests to the excellent craftsmanship.

Do you seek inspiration from the physical world or do you feel more connected to 
philosophical concepts? 

My inspiration doesn’t come specifically from the physical world, nor from philosophical concepts. It comes from my will to create something new, that people have never experienced before. In order to achieve this, I try to create using different techniques other than the traditional sewing techniques. These new techniques give shape to my creations.

What colours, fabrics, and silhouettes are you exploring? 

This season is very colourful. You will find some khaki, white, yellow, orange, and many other colours in addition to black, which remains the DNA of the brand. We worked with different textures and techniques such as macrame, tulle, iridescent materials, fake fur and resin.

Hair, makeup, and accessories are always crucial to your shows. Can you explain the direction this season?

The hair was made by Ryoji Imaizumi and the accessories by the ceramic artist, Takuro Kuwata. The makeup is by Kakuyasu Uchiide. I gave them some key words regarding my direction, and they created from there. It is the result of the collaboration between these three creative artists.

What is one reason to be optimistic about the state of fashion going forward?  

Recently, we’re seeing more and more diversity; some limits that existed in creation and in what people can wear are disappearing, and I think that this is very positive.

Can you suggest a fashion mantra for '24? 

I wish for people to be able to wear what makes them happy.

This interview has been lightly edited.