While I was under the impression that most fashion shows would start fashionably late, that wasn’t the case for Yumi Katsura, who started her show promptly at 9 pm. Yumi Katsura, whom I refer to as the ‘fairy godmother of bridal fashion’, would probably agree with me that time and tide wait for no man. Time is certainly precious and once the clock strikes twelve, Cinderella needs to make a mad dash for home.
Katsura must have a magical wand to instantly transform pieces of fabric into beautiful-looking, romantic wedding gowns that could turn any bride into a Disney princess. Her ‘magical powers’ all began with the quest to find the most glitteringly beautiful bride.
I would be the luckiest woman on Earth if I could wear one of Yumi Katsura’s bridal gowns as I walked down the aisle with rose petals and glitter showering upon me. It might all sound too surreal, but not in Yumi Katsura’s world, where dreams are regularly made into reality. That’s exactly what I experienced and witnessed at her fashion show that night.
Yumi Katsura is one of the world’s most prolific couturiers, whose wedding dresses are considered modern masterpieces. Her journey to the fashion industry started with her pursuit to study fashion at the prestigious Kyoritsu Women’s University. After graduating with a degree from the Department of Apparel Science Studies, she moved to Paris and studied the techniques of haute couture at Les Ecoles de la Chambre Syndicale de La Couture Parisienne. Her exhaustive list of accolades couldn’t be summarized in just a single page. The numerous awards she’s garnered have made her a designing icon in the global fashion industry.
The immense passion and drive behind her wedding dress designs inspired Katsura to establish her very own bridal museum called the Yumi Katsura Bridal museum in Kobe (since 1988). Her museum exhibits traditional bridal gowns from all over the world! It was only later on, when she finally opened the Yumi Katsura Bridal House on Madison Avenue in New York City, that her greatness was truly recognized.
But her success didn’t stop there! Striving to make breakthroughs in the bridal fashion industry, she cleverly turned Japanese traditional wedding kimonos into sensational dresses made more convenient for women to put on. She not only works on bridal gowns, but also bridal accessories, men’s formal wear and haute couture dresses.
Yumi Katsura’s take on Japanese traditional wedding dresses, incorporating elaborate designs that look like watercolor paintings emblazoned on the specially-innovated light fabric that flutterin the wind like butterfly wings, left the audience in awe of her genius. Coating the fabric is a layer of sparkly silver dust that glitters under the light. She’s made Japanese traditional wedding dresses look so desirable and stunning that several women in the crowd couldn’t help themselves – they stood and exclaimed: “I want that one!”
It wasn’t just the dresses that appealed to me, but also the little surprises and entertaining acts which Yumi Katsura wove so creatively and seamlessly into her fashion show. First, shedonned her models in traditional Japanese wedding costumes, complete with Japanese wooden clogs. That’s right – the models had to put their heels aside and parade down the runway in clogs, taking small, poised baby steps.
The audience could not have been more entertained watching the model’scouture blue western dress transform into a white and flawless long wedding gown in the blink of an eye. As soon as the applause settled – another surprise. The lights went out and the gowns on the three models started glowing in the dark courtesy of attached LED lights.
Finally, the fashion show ended with a model wearing one of Yumi Katsura’s most expensive gowns to date, worth millions of dollars. And to end on a nationalistic note, Yumi Katsura paid tribute to Singapore by playing the national anthem and having her models wave mini-Singaporean flags as they walked the runway one last time. This well-respected fashion designer received a standing ovation from the crowd. Even I felt the urge to do a Japanese bow. (If only I hadn’t been sitting right in front of a throng of photographers!)
All in all, it was an extraordinary event – one you almost have to see in order to believe. It’s refreshing to see innovation in an industry so often taken for granted, and the lost art of showmanship in the good old fashioned fashion show. Yumi Katsura engaged her audience in a way few artists, musicians, or politicians ever have.
“How?” you ask. By really focusing on building a near-tangible relationship with the audience. By caring about people. By loving how her art makes other people feel.
If only politicians cared that much about their people. Perhaps the world would be a happier place.
Report prepared by Deenise Glitz