>> Natto. That beloved fermented soy bean monster food described by Anthony Bourdain as thus: “Viscous long strands of mucuslike material followed, leaving numerous ugly and unmanageable strands running from my lips to the bowl.” I’ve tried several times to get down with this Japanese brekkie/snack staple but I just can’t.
Nattofranco however is a new label I can fully get onboard with. Designed by half-Japanese, half-French Parisian Noemie Aiko Sebayashi, the name represents two identities coming together – “France is what I live by, Japan is a Muse,” is Nattofranco’s tag line and so it is that ostensibly speaking, it’s Sebayashi’s Japanese side that you see in the visual aesthetic of Nattofranco. It’s certainly hard to find anything recognisably French in Nattofranco but something by way of a youth-driven wave is beginning to make itself known in Paris, with the likes of Jacquemus and Julien David leading the way and so it is that Sebayashi’s label comes as another much needed breath of fresh air in a city dominated by a lot of bon chic bon ton.
Sebayashi assisted Diane Pernet of A Shaded View on Fashion as well as working within fashion design so has an all-seeing overview of press, production and the design facets of the industry. Rediscovering old drawings from art school, she then ventured forth and set up Nattofranco, launching two complimenting collections for S/S 15, – “Ichi” and “Ni” (meaning one and two in Japanese). She’s testing the graphic waters with the first as she’s inspired by simplified graphics and cartoons, stemming from the likes of Tadanori Yokoo (see how this Japanese graphic god pops up again). Pared back psychedelia and bold typography mix to create the “Humano” and “Koala” t-shirt and sweatshirt, currently on Nattofranco’s e-store.
“Ni” is a fuller offering from Nattofranco. This time round the collection is based on an aesthetic of a fantasy power femme, cultivated by the retro futuristic imaginations of the space age by Japanese artists like Peter Sato and Shusei Nagaoka. It’s not necessarily that late 70s/80s graphic treatment that Sebayashi has utilised but the essence of these fictitious female characters depicted in these surreal space-scales. “I wanted to express the recurring fantasy of the female body, the cult of the athletic chair,” says Sebayashi. “I gave the suggestion of sensual body parts by connecting the dots on the prints.” Nattofranco’s sportswear/streetwear remit is expanded with material choices taken from rugby jerseys and motocross attire (yesssss… another score on the motocross front!). I’m starting to get a feeling of overkill when it comes to sportswear inflected fashion but Nattofranco does manage to put a distinct spin on those familiar spongey silhouettes with her nuanced and well-researched graphic treatment. And like I said, in the context of unforgiving Paris, Nattofranco demonstrates a growing fashion underbelly that is now finally coming forth.
Shusei Nagaoka, 1979, Humanoid poster
Shigeo Okamoto, calendar, ca. 1981